What if…..Your Child’s Imagination Could Soar!

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Reading a story with your child, watching a movie together or listening to music with them all have the potential to take your child’s creative thinking skills to a new level.

Then by encouraging your child to respond thoughtfully to what they have read, heard or seen – you can also nurture the development of their imagination.

Asking your child, “What did you think about a book or movie?” often evokes a response such as, “It was good,” or “I didn’t really like it.”

When your kids are ready – my colleague Matthew Worwood suggests that you encourage your kids to take the next step: ask them how they would improve upon “the model” – in this case, what they have read (books), seen (movies) or heard (music).

http://dadsforcreativity.com/parent-participation-and-bag-of-legos/

If they are unsure of how they might improve upon someone else’s creation – try to engage them in a discussion that will prompt some responses.

My daughter recently finished a book that she didn’t like. When I asked what she didn’t like about it she said, “The ending.” This provided a great opportunity to go to the next level of analysis in an imaginative and playful mode.

I asked her, “If you could change the ending – what would you do?”

Sir Ken Robinson points out an important distinction between creativity and imagination in his groundbreaking book, “The Element.” If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it. Essentially it is about using creativity to find your true purpose – or element:

http://sirkenrobinson.com/finding-your-element/

According to Robinson, imagination deals with thinking of something that is not there. So after Natalie finished reading the book, h20 the two of us tried to imagine a different and better ending. (Creativity, by the way, then involves doing something meaningful with your imagination.)

A great way to jumpstart the imaginative juices in your kids is to play a game of “What if….”

For example:

-What if at the end of the movie, E.T. – Elliot decides to leave on the spaceship with E.T.!

The possibilities are endless. As my colleague and school librarian Cara McConnell points out:

-What if at the end of The Giving Tree – he plants a new tree.

-What if at the end of Cinderella – the shoe doesn’t fit.

-What if at the end of Green Eggs and Ham – he doesn’t like them.

Be attentive to your child’s responses to books and movies and songs – and take the time to help them go beyond their initial responses.

This activity can provide wonderful opportunities for the two of you to engage in explorations that will broaden their imagination and further develop their creative thinking skills.

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Best moment of my vacation? Surrendering myself to my boy’s imagination (Play and Imagination)

This weekend I had the opportunity to sort through the massive amount of photos that we took during our recent trip to Europe. Each image gave me an opportunity to reflect on the many wonderful moments that we shared as a family – and perhaps even identify the best moment of it all. Was it the amazing fish restaurant that we found on our last evening at the coast in Southern Italy? How about the delighted faces of three little cousins who found out they’ll be sleeping together in the same room? Taking a paddleboat out to a hidden beach and snorkeling with the fishes was a pretty cool moment as well – but then I found this one random picture that my wife took. It was of my eldest and me in the ocean, with our fingers stretched out towards each other. A giant Tsunami had just ripped him away from our boat, and as he was carried away by the giant wave he shouted back – ‘friends forever’. Obviously we were just playing, and the Tsunami was actually pronounced SirMarmi, but as I looked upon the image I remembered how immersed I had become in his fantasy world. As I slowly surrendered myself to join in with his play and imagination, the other people on the beach began to disappear and at moments I felt a genuine sense of loss for time and reality. I felt a true companion on my son’s adventure and it was by far the best moment of our trip (that and watching my soccer team win!).

Moments after the giant wave ripped us apart.
Moments after the giant wave ripped us apart. As this point I was oblivious to the world around me.

See Also: Play and Creativity: 3 Question Interview with Jeff Smithson

This experience reminded me of the film ‘Hook’ where Robin Williams, who is the grownup Peter Pan, has returned to Never Land and forgotten how to play. The Lost Boys try desperately to engage his imagination, which will help unlock his happy thought and allow him to fly again, but sadly it’s impossible because he’s too serious and unable to take the time off from reality.

There is no reason why fantasy play should be exclusive to young children, and we as parents should take the opportunity to join in the fun and take some brief moments away from our busy lives. Granted we don’t have the time to play ‘everyday’ but we certainly can participate occasionally, and when we do we should surrender ourselves completely to our child’s imagination and just go with whatever they throw our way – adding only elements that compliment their worlds and challenge their imagination further. This is a creative act, it was probably our first creative act as children, and evidence suggests that the more opportunities you have as a young child to be creative, the more likely you are to seek out creative opportunities in life. So next time you’re alone with the kids for a day or weekend and you’re stuck for an activity – just play.


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You can also view the entire film for free by simply commenting on one of our articles. Anyone who shares or contributes content via the comments below* will receive a FREE download to Creativity in Education: Exploring the Imbalance.

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My Magic Garden: What were your imaginary worlds?

In the house where I grew up, you can sit at the kitchen table and look out at a reasonably sized garden for a London suburb. There’s a patio, followed by a flowerbed (that was once a pond), and then you go up into the lawn, which is surrounded by English bushes, and plays host to an impressive Apple Tree. For the not too serious gardening family, its something to be proud about, and certainly solicits the occasional compliment from its visitors – but for children – it’s more than your average garden, it’s a portal into an infinite number of imaginary worlds.

When I was young I remember how the Apple Tree (which had a companion at this time), transformed my garden into Sherwood Forest. I being Robin Hood, would sit up on that Apple tree, and with my Bow shoot arrows down to alert my Merry Men when strangers would come near. Other times, the garden would be a battlefield from World War II, and I would crawl through the bushes and bramble under the cover at night. Crushed blackberries would be used as blooded war wounds, and my Mom would pass my sandwiches through a gap in the Rose bush. My garden was a place where time seemed to pass seamlessly by, as I engaged my creative thinking skills to manifest a wide array of wondrous worlds.

SEE ALSO: Bike ride turns into an adventure with a Gruffalo, Fairies, a Magical Wood, and Dinosaur Bones

Fast forward twenty years, and my current trip back home has allowed me to revisit some of this magic with my eldest best pal – who’s named it Daddy’s Park. I’m so happy that he appears able to engage in the same type of imaginative play that kept me happy as a child. Today we built a boat and sailed across a chocolate ocean that lay under great green fluffy clouds. Some of us might take this type of play for granted – I certainly did in my first year as a Grade One teacher almost ten years ago. I remember an incident with nine, six-year old boys in my class, who would just fight every playtime (or recess). One day, after one of them got hurt, I inquired as to why they didn’t play something else – something just as fun, but less aggressive, they replied by saying this was the only game they knew how to play. I remember being a little astonished at this response, and suggested one of my favorite playtime games as a kid – Knights of the Roundtable. One of them looked particularly baffled, and asked how they can play this without horses or swords. Sadly I had to literally teach them how to ride an imaginary horse, and conduct and imaginary sword fight – upon reflection this might turn out to be greatest gift I gave as a teacher. I remember thinking at the time, that I would make it a point to teach my kids how to engage in imaginative play, and use this magic to produce wondrous worlds where anything was possible.

I'm not quite sure what world Lucas had created, but I know I was an unwanted visitor, as whenever I came near he would run in his little box and say 'it's a human'.
I’m not quite sure what world Lucas had created, but I know I was an unwanted visitor, as whenever I came near he would run in his little box and say ‘it’s a human’.

I’m not sure if Lucas really needs the support on this front, or even if it’s something that can actually be taught, but it’s certainly been fun revisiting this experience with my boy, and taking the time to reflect on some of my own creative thinking as a kid. I think it’s important as parents we provide these opportunities by allocating time for the technology to be put away, and for the kids to get outside and just play. I can’t wait to see what adventures my guys will embark upon, and hopefully on occasion they might invite me along for the ride.


FREE FILM for parents and educators

You can also view the entire film for free by simply commenting on one of our articles. Anyone who shares or contributes content via the comments below* will receive a FREE download to Creativity in Education: Exploring the Imbalance.

If you choose to comment via social media be sure to sure to include reference to @dads4creativityor share from our Facebook page. We’ll follow up with details via a private message.

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Don’t throw away that box! Take it home and see what fun can be had (fun games with boxes)

I’ve been extremely busy at work this summer, with one project involving the delivery of some rather expensive items, which came with reasonably big boxes. There were so many of them scattered around the room it seemed unethical to throw them out – though we did, apart from one, which made it home to my little boy. I had originally planned to produce an unboxing video for YouTube, but sadly my wishes have taken a backseat to eldest’s ‘needs’ and in just over seven days, my box has served as a magicians table, frozen palace, volcano, part of a continent, and as you would expect, a house. It has literally become his favorite toy, and I doubt Mommy will be able to throw it out anytime soon. In fact, only today I was asked if I have anymore to bring home, so if anything we might be adding to the collection, and perhaps I still might be able to produce my unboxing video.

I’ve shared some pictures that clearly support the saying that kids love boxes (and all the fun games with boxes), and it’s been great to see or the characters and costumes that have manifested over the past week. Even little brother has got involved, though bog brother was not happy with his new squatter who would quickly occupy his home whenever he vacated for a few minutes.

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A window was one of the first things to be added to the box.

 

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Here is an example when little brother took advantage of the vacant box and iPad that has been used as the TV.

Such a fun, and extremely simple way to challenge your little one to produce and consider as many alternatives as possible – how many ways can we play with a box? So next time a big deliver comes your way, keep the box, throw it in the middle of the room, and grab your camera – because fun, play, and creative thinking will quickly follow.

If you liked this article you might want to check out It Doesn’t Go Here.


FREE FILM for parents and educators

We believe the first stage in counteracting the imbalance of creativity verses content, starts at home. Help us share the word on Facebook and Twitter.

Anyone who shares or contributes content via the comments below* will receive a FREE download to Creativity in Education: Exploring the Imbalance.

If you choose to comment via social media be sure to sure to include reference to @dads4creativityor share from our Facebook page. We’ll follow up with details via a private message.

 

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