De­sign Notes

Creative Spa­ces

Westcoast Families - - Families - By Stephanie Mac­Don­ald

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 (­ful­learn­ 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

at hand.

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