we all know that we should make sure our kids get enough physical activity in their day, and school forces them to exercise their intellectual capabilities, but what about your child’s creative side? Clearly, there are many benefits to encouraging your children to exercise their creative and artistic instincts, but apart from popping a beret on their little heads and sitting them down in front of an easel, how can we encourage them by creating surroundings that inspire them to use their imaginations? So many toys these days are already pre-formed, with a predetermined outcome, so how can we show our kids that the possibilities for fun are endless, and don’t necessarily come out of a toy store? Being creative doesn’t mean just drawing pictures or putting stickers in a book. Playing dress up or grocery store, putting on a play or a puppet show, or knights and dragons, or building a diorama or solar system mobile… all of these thing require your kids to use their imaginations, and though part of the beauty of these activities is that they can be done anywhere, there are things you can do in your home that can inspire creativity spontaneously, just because of the set up. An example we love is the idea of building a small stage in a corner of a bedroom or rec room, where the space under the stage can be used to store costumes and simple props, but there are a lot of other potions to explore. We asked some experts about their thoughts on the matter, and they shared some great pointers with us. Julia Smith, an interior designer at Baker Hill Homes, has three busy and creative children and a good idea of how to make inviting play spaces that still appeal to adults too. “Paulina and her friends really enjoy playing school/office/teacher: and our school desks can also be used for crafts, trains, constructing with blocks and the like. I also think it’s really important to have tables at an appropriate size for the kids. Sebastian, my oldest, is more likely to work at the kitchen table, but Hugo, who is two, loves having a table just his size.” Another expert in designing creative spaces for kids is Bridgette Alomes of Natural Pod, a manufacturer of innovative and natural solutions for children’s play spaces. “It’s all about creating invitations to play,” she explains, “it’s not about us as adults entertaining the child. Children are capable beings who can and will create and discover on their own, given the invitation.” A few of Bridgette’s suggestions for creating these invitations include being good role models, “if kids see their parents using found objects to create things, they realize that they can do that too. They begin to see creating their own toys as a process that is fun.” Another key point is to take things out of toyboxes. “The invitation to play includes visual clues, and having materials accessible and visible is important.” Mariah Bruehl of the Playful Learning Ecademy ( www.playfullearning.net) has a checklist of things to ask yourself while creating your own oasis of imagination and creativity in your home.
1. Are materials presented attractively?
2. materials Can your independently? children access the 3. family’s Do the values? materials reflect your 4. Do you have enough different materials that you can rotate them to keep them fresh and exciting to your kids? 5. Is there anything too loud or distracting right nearby? 6. How does everything look from a child’s perspective? Get down to their level to see what they see. 7. Does this space inspire you? If it does, there’s a good chance it will be inspiring to them, too. So get your creative design juices flowing and see what kind of inspiring space you can bring to life for your little ones. It might just be as fun for you as it ends up being for them!
Thinking outside the box with furniture staples
can result in fun and unique spaces
A well used easel with art supplies can inspire on a whim!
An organized and labelled art cart
can keep inspiration easily