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10 Ways to Encourage Creativity in Children

Updated on September 26, 2013

What does it mean to be open-ended?

I use the term "open-ended" in this article when referring to several projects and ideas. Basically, it means that the activity has no limits on where it can go. The child can take the project to whatever "end" they can imagine, and there is no final goal defined in advance.You provide the materials and, essentially, what process they should use (such as gluing, painting, etc.) and leave the rest up to them.

Have fun!

Encouraging Creativity

"Creativity is contagious-- pass it on." -Albert Einstein

Parents are one of the most influential people in a child's life when it comes to inspiring and encouraging a child's creativity. As a general rule, children are usually pretty inventive as it is, but, throughout their childhood, they slowly lose that sense of adventure and curiosity.

Helping to develop a child's imagination has the obvious benefits, such as enabling him or her to cope with challenges he or she will face in all school subjects. It also has some surprising perks:

  • By participating in the activities, you form a closer bond with your child
  • Enables children to find relief from boredom much more easily
  • Promotes self-esteem and self-efficacy
  • Can help increase IQ scores
  • Can provide a healthy outlet for pent-up feelings

Here are some excellent ways to help your child grow and improve their creativity skills.

#1: Painting or Drawing

This can be a wonderful way to learn how your child see the world around them. They can show you the creatures that live under their bed, or they can display their classroom and friends.

It is important to try to avoid things like coloring books or pre-made images. You want the activity to be as open-ended as possible so that you don't put limits on the creative process.

Pro-tip: Let your kids use something besides a paint brush. For example, during the fall, use a dried corn cob to create texture, or use feathers to create a fun effect.


#2: Building Blocks

This is a great way to engage in an activity with your child. Don't be afraid to get down on the floor and be silly.

Some activities you can try include:

  • build a tower or city (then knock it down!)
  • practice counting
  • group blocks by size, then by color, etc.
  • include other toys in the game (for example, build a garage for toy cars)
  • teach them how to spell their name or other words with letter blocks
  • add velcro to the blocks to make more complex buildings


How often to you participate in creative activities with your child?

See results

#3: Clay

This activity can get a little messy, but, in my opinion, all of the best moms have messy houses sometimes. It's all a part of the creative process.

Clay gives children a different medium than they are used to working with, and it allows them to create fun projects in three dimensions. While you are molding, try asking your child these questions to inspire creativtiy:

  • What are you planning to make?
  • If it is an animal or person: What is it like to do? What does it eat? Does it have a family?
  • If it is a thing: What is it used for?

Keep the conversation running while you work. This shows your child that you are interested in what they think and what they like. And don't be afraid to get silly. If your kid starts making a pink panda bear that only eats cake, roll with it! The sillier, the better!

Pro-tip: Create settings for the creations using old shoe boxes and construction paper.


#4: Getting Dressed for the Day

Getting ready for the day can be a boring, or even stressful, task. However, you can turn this daily chore into a fun activity to be enjoyed!

  • Give them choices! Even at the age of 2, a child already has many likes and dislikes, and they know how to tell you. You don't have to necessarily let them go crazy in their closets. Simply holding up two shirts for them to choose from lets them know that they have some control over their lives.
  • Have a themed day on the weekends! Instead of nagging at them because they are trying to spend the whole day in pajamas, give them a challenge. For example, tell them to dress for a cheerful day, or dress in a way that makes you feel excited. Then leave the interpretation to them. Be careful, though. Avoid phrases such as "are you sure you want to wear that?" That can make them feel doubt or awkwardness.

Pro-tip: If you are staying in for the day, allow your child to choose an outfit for you out of your closet that represents the theme.

#5: Instruments

Many parents find the idea of buying loud instruments insane. One way to keep your sanity, though, is to keep them stored away for special occasions. You can even make your own instruments by filling cups or tubes with sand or beads to make shakers. Your pots and pans with a few big spoons make an excellent set of drums as well.

Pro-Tip: Make a game of coming up with lyrics for the music you create!

Making Your Own Instruments

#7: Puzzles

Jigsaw puzzles come in all shapes, sizes, and difficulty levels. It is usually best to allow children to work on these on their own, but be a part of the conversation. Let them develop their own strategy, but maybe offer a hint (such as the straight edges go around the outside).

#6: Balls

Balls are one of the most versatile toys on the market, and kids will always love them. There are millions of different ways to play and create games that incorporate tossing, rolling, kicking, bouncing, and sitting on these amazing toys. Have your child invent a game or goal for you both to play.


#8: Costumes

When many adults think of dress-up, they imagine young girls putting on extravagant dresses to have a tea party. However, this is myth! Boys and girls enjoy putting on different outfits and pretending to go on an adventure. And they don't need fancy costumes. Simply allowing them access to your closet can spark the imagination

Benefits of playing dress-up:

  • allows children to explore roles in society they are interested in
  • encourages taking turns and social interaction
  • provides practice for appropriate behavior in given situations
  • encourages problem-solving
  • allows them to work through feelings about frustrating or confusing situations
  • gives you a window into how they see the world

#9: Pretend Food

Food is a part of everyday life, so it can become monotonous. Fake food allows children to experiment and explore the concepts of eating and food preparation.

  • Try to avoid fake desserts. They may be prettier than the fake vegetables, but they may encourage unhealthy eating habits.
  • Eat what they make! If a child comes to you with a strange concoction of plastic food, pretend to eat it! Talk about how yummy it is, and praise them for their creativity.
  • You don't even need the toys. You can simply have imaginary food that is completely invisible. This practice is extremely open-ended because they can choose from any food or substance they can think of!
  • Let them use some things from the kitchen. Obviously knives and sharp tools are out of the question. Let them use a mixing bowl and a large spoon. Or even suggest that they need to wash their dishes! It can make the activity much more fun if they are allowed access to things they normally are not.

Pro-tip: Let them use real food once in awhile. Bake cookies together, or have them do simple tasks to help with dinner, such as stirring or sorting.

#10: Figurines

Products such as Polly Pocket, Playmobil figures, and The Little People all have many products featuring people, fictional and realistic, for children to help explore and expand their creativity. These are a little less open-ended because the setting and characters are usually provided. However, these toys can allow your child to create story lines, and it gives your child a sense of control. They live in a world where they really don't have control over anyone besides themselves, so this can be a healthy outlet for those frustrations. Be wary of age limits on the products, though. Some toys may be too small for young children, which would be a choking hazard.

© 2013 Stephanie Constantino


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    • techygran profile image

      Cynthia 3 years ago from Vancouver Island, Canada

      I'm so happy to have come across these wonderful suggestions for amping up creativity in one's relationships with kids. This is a classic 'evergreen' hub, and I thank you for your creativity in putting it together! I'm pinning this to my Parenting Help board an voting you up! ~Cynthia

    • Lady_E profile image

      Elena 4 years ago from London, UK

      Lovely. I think it encourages their learning skills too.

    • LongTimeMother profile image

      LongTimeMother 4 years ago from Australia

      It obviously worked for Einstein! Voted up. :)

    • Stephanie7889 profile image

      Stephanie Constantino 4 years ago from Fountain, CO

      Thanks so much. I'm glad you enjoyed it!

    • CampbellLena2013 profile image

      Lena Campbell 4 years ago from Maryland

      I love your hub.. Kids are super creative at least I know mine are but adding to their creativity is a wonderful idea

    • VVanNess profile image

      Victoria Van Ness 4 years ago from Fountain, CO

      This article is so much fun! Kudos for encouraging creative play and not just sitting your children in front of the television. I love it. If you have a backyard or pets, the imagination games and creative possibilities get even wider!

    • Stephanie7889 profile image

      Stephanie Constantino 4 years ago from Fountain, CO

      So glad you enjoyed this. Thanks for reading! And enjoy those grandbabies!

    • Stephanie7889 profile image

      Stephanie Constantino 4 years ago from Fountain, CO

      I agree. These kinds of activities can get parents and kids away from the TV and computer, and they can spend more quality time together. Thanks for reading!

    • Stephanie7889 profile image

      Stephanie Constantino 4 years ago from Fountain, CO

      Thanks so much for reading!

    • Stephanie7889 profile image

      Stephanie Constantino 4 years ago from Fountain, CO

      Thanks so much. I agree that it is important. So many kids lose their imaginations so early in life, which is such a shame.

    • DreamerMeg profile image

      DreamerMeg 4 years ago from Northern Ireland

      Great ideas for a granny to help keep her grandchildren entertained! Thanks.

    • rebeccamealey profile image

      Rebecca Mealey 4 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      This is good! I hope it helps parents to give kids something to do in addition to all those video games. Congratulations!

    • sybol profile image

      sybol 4 years ago

      Great quote. Great article. Good information.

    • mperrottet profile image

      Margaret Perrottet 4 years ago from Pennsauken, NJ

      This is a wonderful article! I feel that creativity is so important to foster in children, and that our society doesn't value it as much as it should. Voted up, interesting, useful and awesome - and sharing. Congratulations on Hub of the Day - you deserve it!

    • StephanieBCrosby profile image

      Stephanie Bradberry 4 years ago from New Jersey

      There is so much discussion these days in academia about the importance of creativity. I wish the focus remains on fostering creativity and not always turning to "how do we access this." Trying to pin creativity down to nice need rubric boxes undermines the whole point. Thanks for showing ways to be creative!

    • Stephanie7889 profile image

      Stephanie Constantino 4 years ago from Fountain, CO

      I absolutely agree. My little girl always favors the toys that make noise, so I thought it would be good to include that. Have a great day!

    • Stephanie7889 profile image

      Stephanie Constantino 4 years ago from Fountain, CO

      Thanks so much for reading! I'm glad you enjoyed it :)

    • Stephanie7889 profile image

      Stephanie Constantino 4 years ago from Fountain, CO

      Thanks so much for sharing my hub! I'm glad you enjoyed the article!

    • KoraleeP profile image

      Koralee Phillips 4 years ago from Penticton British Columbia Canada

      There are a lot of great ideas here. I really like the section on making your own instruments. Children love music and that one sounds like a lot of fun. Voting up and Tweeting.

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 4 years ago from New Delhi, India

      These are great ideas and so creative!

      Children are by nature creative. It is the parents and teachers, who have an important role in giving the right direction to their imagination.

      Congratulations for a well deserved HOTD!

      Voted up and Pinned!

    • Dolores Monet profile image

      Dolores Monet 4 years ago from East Coast, United States

      Shared and tweeted. Not only are these creative outlets great for the kids, and a wonderful way to bond with your child, but you wind up having a lot of fun. We grownups need creative play too! I used to love playing with a mixed batch of figurines, blocks, sticks, household objects and making up a story as we went. The kids liked it too, haha!

    • Stephanie7889 profile image

      Stephanie Constantino 4 years ago from Fountain, CO

      I'm glad you enjoyed this... I have an 8 month old daughter, so finding ways to encourage her and help her grow is of great interest to me. It always makes me happy to see people so involved with their kids. I hope you and your son have lots of fun :)

    • Richawriter profile image

      Richard J ONeill 4 years ago from Bangkok, Thailand

      Hey Stephanie,

      This is great for me because I have a one and a half year-old son so he'll soon be ready for a few of these. We already use lots of balls, figurines and attempt to do puzzles but he's still a little impatient for them right now.

      Some great ideas and I see you put a lot of love into the design of this hub too. It's a great hub with great information.

      Thanks for sharing!


    • Pinkchic18 profile image

      Sarah Carlsley 4 years ago from Minnesota

      Great, great, great ideas!! It's always important to grow that imagination.