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Fostering Creative Thinking Skills In Children

Updated on June 14, 2013

Imagination and Creative Thinking

Possibility. I love the way this word sounds. When I say it, I think of bubbles rising and popping as it is pronounced. Pop, pop, pop: possibility! Can you imagine this in your mind? Possibility is what could be, what if, it is creative thinking and imagination. Without this, our thinking tends to become robotic, or cloned to what others believe.

Without practicing creative thinking and imagination, we are easily led on how to think about important life issues. I would go so far as to say that this is how a government easily captures the minds of many, leading to a life of dependency and acceptance of dictatorship and totalitarianism.

Creativity, which has its roots in creative thinking, is the innovation that drives leadership and management. It leads to new products, company growth and revenue. Sharna Olfman, Professor of Psychology at Pitt Point Park, states, "Many of our great thinkers locate their capacity for original and profound thought in their imaginative abilities, first developed through creative play in early childhood."

Creative Thinking Practice

What is this?  What are possible uses for it?
What is this? What are possible uses for it? | Source

Fostering Creative Thinking In Children

When my son was in high school, I was asked to lead the Odyssey Of The Mind Club, which he had joined. And of course, his involvement was a big factor in my accepting the position. The program helps students in creative problem solving through a series of mental exercises, riddles, and projects. For instance, the object above is a candle ornament and when placed around the base of a candle it enhances the reflection of the light. However, beyond the true purpose of this item, what could you use it for? I am sure you can come up with some very interesting options. This is a practice in creative thinking: using your imagination to think of the possibilities. Mental exercise such as this stimulates creative problem solving in children.

There are two parts to creative problem solving: Analysis and Synthesis.

  • Analysis: ability to break a problem into sub-parts to examine how they fit together.
  • Synthesis: how to put the parts back together to make sense of the original problem.

In helping a child to develop creative thinking, a parent should present a problem or project for discussion. Guiding the child through the possibilities of what could happen or how it could possibly be solved should only highlight the potentials. Parents must be careful not to solve the problem for the child.

Breaking the problem down into small parts so that the child can analyze the situation helps the mental thinking process. I would compare this to writing the steps to a recipe: a step by step instruction guide. Children who experience difficulty in creative thinking most likely are unable to break a problem into parts, instead they look at the wide view and become frustrated.

In the candle ornament exercise above, you were 1) presented the problem (Analysis): What could this be?; 2) Asked to break it into parts (named different uses); and then 3) put it back together into the original form/object (Synthesis, Steps 2 and 3). As Einstein once said, "You can't solve a problem with the same thinking that created the problem." One must consider all the possibilities first.


Creative Problem Solving Process

Creative thinking: How to design a stable for a Zebra: Named stripes, stripes on the floor, and horizontal walls to pull it all together.
Creative thinking: How to design a stable for a Zebra: Named stripes, stripes on the floor, and horizontal walls to pull it all together. | Source

Creative Thinking: The Horse Farm Project

My granddaughter and I visited a horse farm earlier this month. We enjoyed watching them in the field, feeding them carrots and apples, and petting each of them. When we returned home, my granddaughter was so motivated to make a stable for the toy horses in our toybox. She was very familiar with the store bought types which came with many accessories, but we had limited amounts of these at home. We talked about how we could create similar barns and fencing for them with the material we had in the house. Armed with cardboard boxes, paper plates, scraps of material, plastic and paper sheets, tape, glue and markers, she set out to design a farm on her own.

The process took some thinking, trial and error on best fit for parts and material, but she finally completed her design after a full day's worth of creative play. Using creative thinking and problem solving she had produced a farm and small zoo for her toy animals. The video posted is the result of her efforts.

Fostering creative thinking in children helps them to analyze problems and present workable solutions. These same children, when mature adults, are those that create solutions for community problems such as designing new park systems, animal protection leagues, and workable tax laws. So, parents make sure you allow your child to enjoy creative thinking through play activities. It will help them to become successful leaders who make a positive difference in society.

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    • Janine Huldie profile image

      Janine Huldie 4 years ago from New York, New York

      Very much enjoyed reading this Dianna. And everything you spoke of here can apply to teaching Math and problem solving. So the math teacher in me couldn't help, but smile reading this article. Have of course voted up and shared too!

    • teacherjoe52 profile image

      teacherjoe52 4 years ago

      Hi teaches.

      Great article.

      I like to sit down and disect the problem a little bit at a time and ask the children how they would solve it. If their solution does not work, I tell them they didn't fail but just found out a way it doesn't work.

      With young children it helps to make it into a story or game. They love it and learn.

      Yes it stays with them the rest of their lives and makes their lives much less complicated.

      God bless you.

    • teaches12345 profile image
      Author

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      Janine, I so appreciate your comments; coming from another teaching professional it means much to me. Glad you enjoyed the hub and thanks for sharing and voting. Be well and strong.

      TeacherJoe, I love your reflection on the "just found a way it doesn't work".. I believe another great man, Thomas Edison, said a similar thing. Thanks for the add to the hub. Blessings to you!

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      It should come as no surprise that I favor the fostering of creative thinking....love the video...and the message. Oh, if we could only spread the word throughout the schools of America.

      Have a great weekend Dianna and wonderful hub!

    • KathyH profile image

      KathyH 4 years ago from Las Vegas, Nevada

      Fantastic hub, Dianna! :) Your grand-daughter is VERY creative! Nice job! :) It IS good for them to play like this. I used to get things out all the time for our boys when they were young, empty toilet paper rolls, buttons, anything that looked like it could be used to make something! Voted up and across! :)

    • Mhatter99 profile image

      Martin Kloess 4 years ago from San Francisco

      I don't think I ever stopped to think about this. Me and the kids were close. If they had an idea as long as it was safe) ... let's try it.If it didn't work,We messed up. If it was successful, You did a good job!

    • teaches12345 profile image
      Author

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      Bill, creative thinking prevents us from being led -- important in today's world which faces so much conformity. Thanks for your thoughts here.

      Kathy, you did a great job with those boys in giving them common household items to use creatively. What fun they must have had!

      Mhatter, it must have been fun around your home as a kid.. what a great inspiration to just let them think outside the box! Thanks for your visit and support.

    • missolive profile image

      Marisa Hammond Olivares 4 years ago from Texas

      An excellent approach to teaching and learning. Open ended questioning develops wonderful awareness and creative skills in all learners. Bloom's Taxonomy at its best. Thank you so much for sharing these examples and ideas with us.

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 4 years ago from southern USA

      teaches, this is very creative thinking on your part!!! You are a motivator for sure. I am passing this on to my son and pray that he uses these techniques with his children, my grandchildren, or I will too. Brilliant! God bless. In His Love, Faith Reaper

    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 4 years ago from Dubai

      Great hub. Creative thinking and approaches to problem solving helps a child to think more, analyze, come to conclusions and take the right decision. The Mind Club activity and the Horse Farm project are great activities for creative thinking. You are a wonderful grandmother!!! Enjoyed reading. Voted up.

    • Sturgeonl profile image

      Sturgeonl 4 years ago

      Wonderful topic and great ideas for developing creativity. I am still trying to figure out uses for the object pictured above! Voted up and interesting.

    • michiganman567 profile image

      michiganman567 4 years ago from Michigan

      My mom teaches preschool and she had to go to some meeting for training or something. They are trying to get them to teach all of their kids on IPODS. No blocks, no imagination, just computer games. What is your opinion on that? Oh they got a $30,000 grant from the government to buy these ipods. I guess that apple bought off a politician.

    • Hyphenbird profile image

      Brenda Barnes 4 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful

      This idea and Hub is a return to days when children used available items to create toys. Even Halloween costumes were made from scraps and whatever we could find. Thank you for the reminder that a child's mind hold unlimited potential and possibilities. Your granddaughter is beautiful and creative and the horse barn fabulous.

    • teaches12345 profile image
      Author

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      Hello Missolive! Yes, open ended questions tend to lead children into better creative thinking. Thanks for the compliment and reference to Bloom's -- it's nice of you, but just trying to help others. Have a great weekend.

    • teaches12345 profile image
      Author

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      Faith, thanks for your support and blessings. I hope your son finds it useful. May your day's journey be complete in all good things.

    • teaches12345 profile image
      Author

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      Thanks for your add to the content, Vellur. I love to guide kids on creative thinking skills. It is a fun process. Glad you enjoyed the hub and I thank you for your visit and support. Take care, dear friend.

    • teaches12345 profile image
      Author

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      I would love to hear what you come up with in the obect, it's a difficult one! I often use much simpler objects, but ones like this really makes you think creatively. I appreciate your visit and votes, Sturgeonl. Be well and safe always.

    • teaches12345 profile image
      Author

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      Michiganman, I think that since the workworld is technologically geared - giving kids and early start is helpful. However, it must be balanced with activities to allow for movement and expression such as outdoor play, art, music, indoor play (yes, blocks!), and other quiet time play settings. You can get some ideas on this from a hub I wrote on boys and movement and the creative based play of girls ( two different hubs), which help explain how the brain must be stimulated by varied play activities. It's nice to have the support of Apple, but the AMA will tell you that kids should be limited to two hours of tech a day total which includes video games, TV, Ipods, etc. Thanks for your visit and support. Have a blessed day.

    • teaches12345 profile image
      Author

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      Thank you, Hyphenbird. We are blessed with great grandchildren. I agree that the tech world has a lot to give us, but we must allow for the simple, basic creativity of a child's play within it and around it. May your day's journey be blessed richly.

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 4 years ago from United States

      Dianne, This is an awesome hub. I think teaching creative thinking is so important, maybe more important than some of the other things they are taught. It is sad to see older children that cannot figure out how to think through and solve simple problems. I love you video. You are obviously a great teacher.

    • teaches12345 profile image
      Author

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      With all the subjects that must be taught in order to acheive high test scores, creativity is an area that is being left out in the school curriculum. Sadly, as you say, children are not able to think through and solve simple problems. Pamela, thank you for visitng, your wise comments and support. I so appreciate your stopping in here. Blessings!

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 4 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Your granddaughter probably had much more fun in creating her own barns, fences, etc. for her little project then had you gone out and purchased items representing those same items in a store. Not only did it keep her engaged and thinking, but it showed her creativity. Nice job with this hub. Up and useful votes!

    • teaches12345 profile image
      Author

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      Peggy, she did enjoy herself and I agree that it was probably a longer play than if she had those cute little store bought items. Thanks for the visit and votes. Always good to see you on a hub!

    • jellygator profile image

      jellygator 4 years ago from USA

      I recently read that by adulthood, less than 2% of all people still have the ability to be creative, though nearly every child can be. I think this is such a valuable skill to cultivate, but it's one that normal school methods tend to squash. Voted well and shared.

    • teaches12345 profile image
      Author

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      Jelleygator, it's a shame creativity is put on the back burner in school when it is what helps keep life interesting as an adult. Thanks for the stats on this fact. Good to know!

    • rebeccamealey profile image

      Rebecca Mealey 4 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      It is so good to know that there are creative teachers like you. This is such a cool Hub, full of spark and imagination!

    • teaches12345 profile image
      Author

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      Thanks, Rebecca, for your warm visit and compliment. Glad you enjoyed the hub topic. It's good to see you here.

    • unknown spy profile image

      IAmForbidden 4 years ago from Neverland - where children never grow up.

      dianna, this is superb amazing hub and can teach other what to do too; you are one great teacher.

    • Jools99 profile image

      Jools99 4 years ago from North-East UK

      Dianna, great video and an interesting article. I used to try these ideas with my daughter when she was small and I think she got a lot out of having to work things out for herself and make things herself. The sense of satisfaction when it was something she had made herself was always there for all to see - she wanted to show everybody :o)

    • teaches12345 profile image
      Author

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      Unknown, thanks for your view on the post, always good to have your feedback.

      Jools, good job letting your child have fun figuring out problems on her own. I'm sure she will demonstrate leadership as she matures into a career.

    • yvetteboggs profile image

      Yvette Boggs 4 years ago

      Wow Dianna, this is awesome material. I will certainly pass it along to all of my homeschooling friends :) Also, very beautifully done... Love the video!

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      This is an excellent hub, teaches, and a very useful one. I love your description of the value of creative thinking for children and of how it helps them as adults. Your grandddaughter is certainly creative!

    • teaches12345 profile image
      Author

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      Hey, Yvette! Your visit and support mean lots to me. I appreciate your sharing with those who may find it useful. Blessings.

      Alicia, thank you for the kind words. My granddaughter has a talent for creativity. Your feedback is encouraging.

    • MoniqueRM profile image

      MoniqueRM 4 years ago from Alpharetta, GA

      Teaches12345, this is a refreshing hub. This principle of breaking things down to smaller elements for better problem solving can be used with so many things including goal setting for kids. I must admit, I often get tempted to "solve" the problem when the creative wheels move a bit slow, but I have learned to restrain myself in order to allow the kids to gain the full benefit of this exercise. I think that incorporating more hands-on projects in the existing curriculum will help re-integrate the creativity in our kids. Great, inspiring hub!

    • teaches12345 profile image
      Author

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      Monique, it is tempting to jump in and give kids the solution. You are not alone on that thought. Sounds like you are a living example of creative thinking! Thanks for your add to the hub. Be well and safe.

    • profile image

      IntegrityYes 4 years ago

      I voted up for sure. That is so useful.

    • teaches12345 profile image
      Author

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      Integrity, thanks! Appreciate your vote of support. Have a great Monday!

    • profile image

      IntegrityYes 4 years ago

      You are very welcome, Teaches.

    • Natashalh profile image

      Natasha 4 years ago from Hawaii

      I saw this when it was new, but didn't have time to check it out then. Creativity is so difficult to quantify (ok, kind of impossible!), so it gets left out in favor of things that have definitive answers and bubbles to fill it. I've heard/read that the rate of invention is far slower now than in the past. We think we're so technologically advanced and making new stuff all the time, but people create less new things now than more than 100 years ago. Based on patent records and stuch, the rate of invention peaked in 1873. On its current path, it will equal the invention rate of teh Dark Ages in less than a decade and a half. Seems impossible-sounding, in some ways, but very plausible in others.

    • teaches12345 profile image
      Author

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      Natashalh, I think you should write a hub on the interesting facts you mentioned here. I would enjoy learning about this angle on creativity. It is true that our schools do not have the time to foster this art within our children. Parents can compensate by helping children to develop this through home play activities. It will help their child to develop positive problem solving and leadership skills valuable to their future. Thanks for your visit here, you made me think!

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 4 years ago from the short journey

      Any and every thing we can do to encourage creativity in children is invaluable to their thinking skills. Thanks for this good look at the importance of doing so with helpful details on how to motivate them to think outside the box. It would have been easy to go to the store and buy horse barn toys, but a wonderful opportunity would have been missed.

    • teaches12345 profile image
      Author

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      Rtalloni, parents capturing teachable moments is so valuable in helping kids to think creatively and critically. Great insight to the topic! Thanks for you add to this. Always good to see you!

    • BJC profile image

      BJC 4 years ago from Florida

      I love this hub!!! Very invigorating and encouraging to me as a VE teacher.

    • teaches12345 profile image
      Author

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      Bjc, thanks! Good to know it is reaching others in the educational profession. Take care.

    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 4 years ago from USA

      We really do need to foster creative thinking as part of teaching instead of simply giving them rote facts to memorize. It will make them much more capable of applying what they know to new situations we haven't even thought of. You have presented great way to do that. Love the video. Your granddaughter is very creative, and I am sure having you as a Grandma certainly helps.

    • teaches12345 profile image
      Author

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      Creativity is a fun concept to teach and it carries through to adult career challenges. Thanks for your visit and support. My granddaughter is very good at thinking of creating from simple items, but I think her parents have the credit here as well: one is artistic and the other is a teacher. Take care.

    • Docmo profile image

      Mohan Kumar 4 years ago from UK

      As someone who adores creative thinking I'm fully sold on this concept, Dianna. As you so eloquently display here we need more creative generalists who connect and problem solve and make inspired leaps of imagination.. as you so eloquently and creatively display here. voted up and shared!

    • teaches12345 profile image
      Author

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      It's amazing how creativity leads to problem solving and better decision making. It starts early in life. Docmo, I value your opinion here.

    • profile image

      AudraLeigh 4 years ago

      I wish I had a camara when I was a child to help me problem solve. I really like what you have written here!

    • profile image

      AudraLeigh 4 years ago

      I want the book "Thinkertoys"

    • teaches12345 profile image
      Author

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      Audra, that book does look interesting. In our hands it would be dangerous! You are a great photographer -- guess you are just naturally talented. Take care and have a great weekend.

    • remaniki profile image

      Rema T V 4 years ago from Chennai, India

      Hi Dianna,

      You have spoken about children's creativity as well as the recycling activity that is just the need of the hour. Lovely hub. I wish I were a child once again now! Sharing it all over. Cheers, Rema.

    • teaches12345 profile image
      Author

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      Remaniki, I love your child's heart -- I too wish I could play again as a child. It is such an innocent time of life and so pure. Thanks for your add to the flow of thoughts. You have a most wonderful day, friend.

    • Harishprasad profile image

      Harish Mamgain 3 years ago from India

      You have beautifully stressed on creativity that is very crucial in shaping the lives of children. Without it, an individual is like a robot, driven by a set mechanism. Creativity is so fulfilling and enchanting that just owning it makes one a phenomenal person. All development and growth is the result of creativity. teacher 12345 , you are really a great teacher and I envy your students.

    • teaches12345 profile image
      Author

      Dianna Mendez 3 years ago

      Harishprasad, your words ring so true. Creativity is the essence of beauty in learning. Thank you for visiting and leaving such a positive comment. Blessings!

    • grand old lady profile image

      Mona Sabalones Gonzalez 21 months ago from Philippines

      How I wish there was internet when my child was a baby. Then, I would have been able to read your article and implement it immediately. Why wait for a classroom when you can do it as soon as the child can communicate? Well, there are still the grandkids to come:). Wonderful article.

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