creativity tool # 3: Books *
Have you ever wondered how great children’s books manage to transport our kids into worlds of rabbit holes and neverlands? One thing is certain: books are magical tools for nurturing kids’ fantasy.
And books are the easiest ones “to use” to inspire creativity: parent’s don’t need to do anything to make them work their magic. Sometimes, parents don’t even need to read them to their children because illustrations do the job instead. Have your child, who is not reading yet, ever offered to read you a book? He can, of course. He will created his own version. He might not know it, but at the moment, when he tells you a story relying on pictures, he is practicing his storytelling skills as well as his imagination.
Reenacting and Making up Stories
There are many ways to encourage storytelling and creativity in young kids. Especially, if they are not exhibit their own desire to tell a story. Here are some ideas.
- Puppet shows are great for retelling stories, practicing speaking in front of the audience, coming up with the story on a fly, and, of course, stimulating imagination. Homemade puppets are easy to make if you don’t have them or want some new ones. Just print out and cut out some characters or use the stickers of your favorite characters and attach them to wooden craft sticks (or pencils.) Also, your child might want to make her own puppets by drawing or making them with materials found around the house. If that the case, let the puppets look satisfactory for you kid and don’t worry if it doesn’t appear “beautiful” to you. Both of you can reenact a story from a book (practicing retelling the story) or create your own story while putting on a show.
- Make a story game. After you read or retell a story to your kid, invite her to create simple “scenes” from the story. Use construction paper for grass, forest, ocean, etc. Cut out mountains, trees, or anything else your scene requires. Use blocks for simple buildings. Involve your child in creation of the scene.
Once landscape is done, she can use toy characters or make her own characters to play. Use “story game” to retell the plot or allow your child to “play with a story”. While she is playing pretend with her “story game”, encourage her to narrate it .
To make your own characters, you can find images for the characters online, print them, cut out (alternatively, your child might do the cutting and coloring if needed). The last part is to make your characters “stand”. First of all, you can make them sturdy by gluing them to the card board and then cutting out again. My students and I made standees by cutting rings (about 3 inches tall) from paper towel tube, making two vertical cuts on both sides of each ring, and inserting the tree and the characters into the cuts. If this construction feels flimsy, feel free to make it sturdier by using scotch tape and small playdough containers underneath standees. Or better yet, brainstorm with your kid how to make your own standee!
Books and Crafts
Some kids like to draw and make crafts based on the books they read. Nowadays, one can find online zillion activities based on children’s books. But what if your child is not into arts and crafts? Should you even bother motivating him to draw pictures or make crafts based on what he reads? I say it’s worth trying, and here is why.
Making crafts promotes fine motor skills and helps children to work with shapes, colors, and textures. But best of all, while making art projects kids get to experiment with different materials in playful and creative ways. Here are some of the crafts my students made for The Princess and The Pea fairytale. Notice different ability levels, and variety of materials used. Some of them, like modeling clay, is used in unusual way (spread on the cardboard). My favorite of the crafts, is the one where a child decided to put entire royal family to sleep on a pea and even made one child fall of the bad. For me, this is a great example of creativity: changing the plot as a result of making a craft.
There are number of different things you can do in general to motivate your child to try craft making. Here are some of my ideas that encourage interest in art projects based specifically on books.
- Choose a favorite book or story
- Prepare variety of materials and use them in unusual ways.
- Work side-by-side with your kid
- Emphasize creative and fun aspects of your child’s work (your ….. looks so different from mine, your ….. is so colorful, you are using ….. in such an unusual way, etc.)
Make Connections With Fine Art and Classical Music
There are so many great books about fine art and artists, and many of them come with the projects. Here are some of my favorite ones. Click on each picture to get a link to Amazon. But before buying, check them in your local library.
And here are my favorite books that either have discs with classical music included or could be pared with separate discs. Children can read the story, listen to the music, and reenact some parts of the story. Encourage diversion from the plot, let their fantasy soar.
- Tubby the Tuba
- The Story Orchestra: The Sleeping Beauty
- The Story Orchestra: Swan Lake
- Sergei Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf
- The Sorcerer’s Apprentice (just a story, but could be pared with the Dukas’ CD)
Check out Outschool for art and music classes as well as summer camps. All classes include stories and crafts.