Rain, rain and rain…
It can sometimes be so gloomy outside in the Netherlands. Grey, overcast weather. Not nice weather to go outside. Now I generally don't mind that, I'm really a homebody. But my 3-year-old toddler son prefers to be outside all day and can then wait theatrically in front of the window until the weather clears up. But it didn't happen…
Because my son Stan is very active and likes to play outside, I can't wait to see such a long rainy day. But luckily he (just like me) is always up for a creative activity.
I hardly ever work with planned crafts. Firstly, because I often think last minute that it is nice to do something creative together and then I no longer get the chance to look for a craft project in a few minutes. Sir always wants to start right away, recognizable? ;) Secondly, because crafts usually don't have much to do with creativity, but more with learning a skill, think of learning to cut, paste, write, etc. Not that that's less valuable for your child, but it's not my approach with a creative activity.
If we are going to do a creative activity together, we choose certain materials together and I set that up. I take the personalized painting board by Grennn† Whether we're going to clay, stick or paint, it's great to have a firm and defined base to get started creatively.
Being creative is a very challenging skill. It is super exciting to draw the first line on an empty sheet. It often feels like the first line is everything that determines what you will make and how successful it will be. People always strive for perfection and that has been in us from an early age and therefore also in our children. A surface can help create safety. A table or large surface can feel like infinity and that can feel very overwhelming. A demarcated surface then feels much safer.
In addition, it is of course also very nice to have a solid surface and it is nice that the shelf is very easy to clean. Both things contribute enormously to the joy of creating.
I have classified our creative materials by 'type'. I find it helps Stan. Having many types of material at your disposal may seem like a luxury, but it will lead to overstimulation rather than creativity. The same goes for having a lot of toys.
We have a bowl of all kinds paint, a glass jar in brushes, a tray with markers, pencils and glitter pens, a tray with stickers, foam figures and glue, a tray with iron-on beads, a tray with clay, knives and accessories, etc. For each activity we choose a maximum of 2 trays and we get to work.
What do you do when your child is tinkering and you are sitting at the same table? Are you going to make something yourself or will you help your child with his artwork? It is very important for children's creativity that they feel free to make what they want to make.
For example, I can show Stan how I make or draw something, but it's better for Stan's creativity if I teach him how to work with the material and what you can do with the material. Then he can decide for himself what to do with it. I can also teach Stan to color neatly within the lines and make sure that no paint gets on the table, but it is better for Stan's creativity if I teach him how to handle the material carefully and how to tidy his workspace again can leave behind. In this way I teach him how the material works and how he enjoys it as long as possible, but he learns himself, by doing, what he can make with the material and I think that is a creative activity.
Would you like to stimulate your child's creativity even more? Then I have some nice tips for you:
- Try to look 'open' at the material you have at home. You can use many materials in many other ways than you might be used to. Pinterest is going to help you enormously with that, if you find it difficult to see that. Try making a chain of iron-on beads and use sticky eyes when claying, etc. It only needs to be a small change from how you would normally use it, it helps your brain to become more creative and so does your child.
Don't forget to take a look at the shop of Grennn† It is full of creative materials that are very stimulating for creativity because they can be used in so many ways.
- Never make your art on your child's artwork. It will always compare your creation to its own creation and your creation will always be better in the eyes of your child. Rather help your child by showing how you can use the material, possibly demonstrate something, but let your child make it. This is also very important for your child's self-confidence.
- If you make something yourself while tinkering. Then experiment with the material. It will be contagious for your child. If you make something your child could never make, it could be demotivating. If your child often asks if you want to make something in his or her place, then your child has seen that you can do better and therefore may no longer rely on your own abilities. Try to make as little as possible instead of your child, but support them during the making.
- Start with small steps. If you don't dare to say that you are creative, it can feel like a big step to stimulate this skill in your child. Start with a material that feels very familiar and that causes little mess. I think most parents can handle pencils. Experiment with your child about what you can do with pencils besides drawing or coloring things.
A fun activity with pencils is: Hold a pencil on the paper for half a minute and move your hand in all kinds of random directions. When you're done, try to see as many recognizable things as possible in your drawing (you can outline them with a marker if you want). Maybe you see a car, a letter, an animal.
- Dare to make a mess. Teach your child how to make his or her workplace sparkling clean again and how to handle the material carefully (eg don't throw a brush). Then your child can make a mess. When Stan is painting, it's not just paint on the paper. But also on the table, are apron, his hands, his face and the chair he sits on. If you make things and your focus is on making things, it is very annoying to be taken out all the time, because you have to wash your hands right away. That disrupts the creative process. So if it's not dangerous or damaging, wait until the activity is finished to clean up. And even better: do it together, make it part of the activity.
Make it a very beautiful creative day, when the weather is so gloomy and overcast.