When planning out a homeschool plan, it can be easy to think of creating and making things as nice extra, but creative play is also essential for brain development, as it helps foster problem solving ability as well as a whole host of other great things, like out of the box thinking, adaptability, and flexibility, as well as enhancing the ability to retain ideas. Which for our family, means it is bumped up pretty high on the ‘must-do’ list.
Due to the imaginational OEs often associated with gifted/2e kids, some kids ooze creativity and imagination and everything becomes an elaborate story or creation. Anything in their reach becomes part of their imaginative world. Other kids (particularly those with some types of special needs, like ASD), might also exhibit large amounts of imagination and creativity, but it will come out in more unusual ways that might be easy to dismiss or miss. Having lots of different ways for kids to express their ideas, with materials ready to hand for practical creations can really help with spontaneous creative play.
But an adult’s idea of creative play doesn’t always match up with the way kids like to create and explore. Which can be a challenge for parents and other adults. But letting go of expectations of finished products or following the instructions can have huge benefits for everyone! Creativity can come in many forms and for my family, fostering my kids ideas has been far more useful than trying to bend their ideas to fit preconceived ideas about creative play.
So, how to foster creativity with gifted or twice exceptional kids? Here are some ideas we have used to foster creativity in our home:
The Whole Family Creates
For our family, fostering creativity is not just about giving the kids the tools and time to make and create, but is also about making and creating things ourselves. This is not only fun, but it helps our kids understand that creativity is a valuable adult ability worth developing. And sometimes, our creativity sparks our kids to be creative in new and interesting ways.
Making And Creating Board Games
One of the things my DH loves to do is make board games. With access to the rules online, a large box of old business-card rejects (we get them from a local printer), and large amounts of paper, he will often recreate old out-of-date board games – designing cards and boards. (And if it’s a hit, we’ll then buy the original when we can find a copy).
But it also extends into redesigning the rules or the boards on different games as well – and this practice has spilled over to C, who also likes to design his own games and rules. We will often have fun playing our own board games or variants on traditional board games.
|The Box of Possibilities|
Making Things to Help Their Play
We’ve also found that our own creativity not only can inspire our kids, but it can also facilitate their own imaginative and creative play. When my daughter discovered that dressing up like a fairy could be fun, she also decided that she needed lots of skirts in every colour. This ‘I hate skirts’ to ‘I love skirts’ change meant there was no secret stash of skirts ready-made. So I made her a few simple skirts (This is a good link for learning how to make these simple skirts, which were quick to make (3 hours max), extremely low-fuss as they have no materials that can irritate, the insides have no itchy seams and if they’re rejected at a later date, it’s not days of work wasted. ).
|Handkerchief Skirt, ‘Rainbow’ Skirt, Purple Skirt, Pink Shirt Skirt|
As a result, she is able to do her swirly dances and dressing up with skirts that match the ideas she has in her head. It also helped her to learn that sometimes it can be just as quick and easy to make something rather than buying it. And she also had the fun of choosing the material for each of them as well – going though the fabric stash can be quite fun.
Having Lots of Craft Materials Handy
All this adult creativity has inevitably kicked off a wave of creating as little J explored her way through glue, glitter, paper and tape (and anything else that will hold still for long enough). Though we could and have bought a lot of this from craft stores, we’ve also:
- Kept Christmas and birthday wrapping paper, tissue paper, string and ribbons.
- Put scraps of material and buttons in their own easy to access containers. (You can often get buttons in bulk from second-hand stores).
- Kept the insides rolls of wrapping paper, toilet paper rolls, old cardboard boxes and depending on size, packing material from deliveries.
- Anything that falls apart is checked for any useful craft parts. The plastic covers from old lecture notes has been particularly useful for screen printing.
- Buying supplies (like paint) from bulk craft supply stores that usually supply schools. If you order enough, there is usually not a problem.
- Sorting all of these into their own bags or containers so they are easy to find (and put a away)
- Having large brushes, weights for pencils, and different types of scissors in various sizes available for my kids different motor needs (Stores that supply equipment to OTs have some great equipment for kids with motor problems).
Using Imaginative Play to Get Kids to Do Boring Things
When my daughter needed a new hat, I made her a new hat using a Martha Stewart pattern . (She lost all her sun-hats. Every. Single. One.) But it was rejected until I added the stud clip to pin the side up – then the boring old hat became a pirate hat! Because pirates are awesome (thank you Octonauts). Now she loves wearing the hat – and has a spy-glass handy for all her piratical needs. She has also requested that it has a skull and crossbones, but I haven’t figured out how to do that yet. Or how to make it work with the vibe of the fabric. But she’s wearing a hat, and that’s a huge win in my book.
|The Green Pirate Hat|
Crafting Together, Individually
I was really great when we found a way to combine our kids love of drawing, and my own need to make clothing, with our foray into stamp printing. Getting the kids to design and draw pictures that they could then stamp onto their own clothes was a lot of fun (and not as messy as it sounds). With the purchase of a lino cutting set, a few pieces of old lino and some tracing paper and a pencil, I was able to turn the kids designs into stamps (and if I manage to get some softer lino next time, I plan to let then try carving shapes as well, but it can be a bit dangerous for little ones). They both enjoyed painting their prints and stamping it either onto paper, or onto their own shirts with fabric paint. And the bonus is that they get to wear their creations.
|Lino Print Using the Kids Designs|
With all this familial creativity, it is only in retrospect that I realised how much of mine and my DH’s need to create has fostered it in our kids. Not that they wouldn’t be creating anyway, because I’m not sure they can stop! But because it has opened their minds to what they can do and make themselves. It has given them the confidence to give things a go, even if they’re not sure how it will turn out. And it has allowed them to discover how much fun creating can be. And I’m all for that.
What have you done in your family to foster creativity and making?