How to Create Creative Kids

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Creating Creative Kids

Karen Benke is the creator of Rip the Page! and Leap Write In!

Her Philosophy:
"I see that as kids get older, they stop trusting the dreaming, doodling part of their brain and start looking for the 'right' answer. It takes a lot of courage to look at the world and experience things with our own eyes and ears and tastebuds and fingertips and not just go along with the crowd."

Inspiring Ideas:


Snatched From the Radio:
Turn up the radio volume for a couple of seconds, then down again. Write down the words you hear. Whatever you snatch, that's what you have to work with. "Like skeletons on fire we ..." Write a story from those words. Or if you're in a group, pass the phrase around and everyone can add a sentence or two.

Haiku Hike
Go out in the dark with a headlamp and a notebook and look for haiku in the garden--or on your street, in your backyard. Haiku is simply a moment observed, in three short lines (for this activity, there's no need to count syllables). Look, and listen, for something happening right now and just describe this one moment. An example: "My cat at the window/ watches clouds/move over the roof."

Seven-Line Chain of Time
Cover a table with butcher paper. Think of seven words--any words--and write them on the table, spacing them however you like. Write a story or poem to connect them.

Make Art

Jean Van't Hul is the creator of the book and website The Artful Parent.

Her Philosophy:
"We need outside-the-box thinking. If children are allowed, even encouraged, to experiment (and to fail), they are more likely to grow creatively. If they hear that there is just one right way to do something, they're less likely to try other things."

Her Creative Tips:
1. Don't be afraid to make a mess. You can do really messy projects outside or confine them to the kitchen, garage, or even the bathtub. Jean thinks, "OK, my house is going to be a bit of a mess for the next ten years," and tries not to worry. "I just won't get a white couch!"
2. Have patience for children's slower pace. Give them the chance to appreciate the magical in the everyday: Rocks! Seashells! Ladybugs!
3. Upcycle art. "I frame our kids' art and store some of it in bins, but we really can't keep it all," Jean says. She uses paintings as wrapping paper, or she and her kids cut them up into banners, buntings, cards, and decorations. Repurposing art keeps kids focused on the process of making it, rather than on the idea of keeping it forever.

Inspiring Ideas:

Body Tracing and Painting
This open-ended project allows kids to reimagine their identity. They can embellish their outlines with fanciful clothing, draw imaginary internal-organ systems, or capture their metamorphosis into wild creatures. Simply trace around your child on a big piece of butcher paper you've taped to the floor, then give her oil pastels, paints, and whatever else she needs to re-create herself.

Paint Without a Brush
Make a painting using anything but a brush, such as plastic dinosaur feet, toy tractors, spoons, and pinecones. Or try printing with things like sponges, fruits, and vegetables.

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