Creativity is the root of genius inventions, great ideas, and awesome innovations. However, we often hear about a lack of creativity in kids today. As parents, we have the ability to nurture our children's creative endeavors that will lead them to be the future leaders of the world.
Art classes and music lessons are often the go-to, but with science and technology being extremely influential in our everyday lives and the increasing emphasis on STEM education, it's time to try something new. Resourcefulness and risk-taking in science has given us the technological leaps and innovations that we enjoy today. So now more than ever, our children should start developing creativity skills in those STEM areas.
To drive that creative process, it is important to emphasize open-ended play and unstructured opportunities to create and experiment. Here are a few activities that will inspire your kids to think both creatively and scientifically.
1. 3D Building Activities
Whether it's playing with Legos, modeling with Play-Doh, or designing an egg drop project, there are no bounds when it comes to creativity in building.
When competing in an egg drop contest, for example, will challenge kids to think creatively about how to cushion the egg (the cradle), how to slow the fall or how to minimize the weight. I’ve seen effective solutions from giant popcorn pillows to more minimalist designs made of coffee stick holders, with and without hand-sewn plastic bag parachutes. Not only is this an opportunity for kids to brainstorm analytically and critically from an engineering and scientific perspective, they get to test their ideas and improve upon them. It’s an invaluable opportunity to experiment creatively, and they’ll achieve immense satisfaction when they can be successful as a result of ideas that were theirs.
2. Experiment in the Kitchen
With a little bit of science, you won't be scolding your kids for playing with their food anymore. Plus, what could be more fun than food? Experimenting in the kitchen is great way for kids to learn about science, creatively explore, and have fun.
Beyond mixing ingredients (the “chemistry” of cooking), there are ways to use everyday kitchen ingredients to see science in action, and encourage kids to not be afraid to "try and see".
A popular and easy activity among kids is making naked eggs using vinegar, which involves an acid-base chemical reaction. By submerging an egg in a bowl of vinegar for a day, the shell will dissolve. The result is a naked egg!
Another educational activity is testing pH levels using a red cabbage. As a natural pH indicator, the cabbage juice will change colors depending on the acid and base levels of a liquid substance. By testing in various liquids, kids will have a rainbow array of colors. Even if your child is too young to understand chemistry, they will still have a fun time exploring and experimenting.
The only thing required for this fun activity is paper. While most people may think of origami purely as an arts and crafts activity, the process of transforming a 2D piece of paper into a 3D object involves visualization, logic, and lots of mathematical themes—the basics being geometry, angles, and fractions.
Kids can also learn about mathematical and scientific concepts from origami. For example, by folding a paper airplane, they can visualize fractions, proportion and geometry, and observe the interactions between an object's design, gravity and aerodynamic properties.
To many people, computer programming may seem boring and full of nonsensical syntax. But as we know today, with apps that infiltrate every aspect of our lives, coding is extremely versatile and can lead to many creative opportunities. It allows people to bring their imaginations to life and to turn ideas into reality.
Educational interactive resources have made coding easy and fun for today’s kids. They can learn fundamental programming concepts while exercising their creativity through storytelling, animations, game development, and more. (Every December Code.org hosts an Hour of Code – a great opportunity for you to get your kids started! www.code.org)
5. 20 Questions—Backwards!
Rather than guessing an object, play the game of 20 Questions backwards with your kids. Pick or show them an object and tell them to ask questions about it. Some questions may be more specific while others may be more open-ended.
By coming up with questions, kids will be encouraged to observe and analyze from all angles. Challenging your child to creatively brainstorm these questions will eventually lead your kids to start asking the bigger ones—the "what ifs" and the "hows".
There are so many ways that kids can explore their creativity, and it’s not limited to only art and music. As STEM education becomes more and more important, encourage your kids to delve into math and science. Building, food, origami, coding, and 20 Questions are just a few ideas to get them started.