An inspired child is a joy to watch. How often have you caught yourself being mesmerized by how inventive and creative your kids can be when they play? Dressing up as princesses or super heroes and saving the day; painting whimsical pictures you would pay to own; the pretend tea parties and picnics; the forts built from a cardboard box and a sheet; and the stories they can construct around three action figures, a marble, and a stick they found outside. Kids are like the MacGyvers of creative play – making fantastic things from virtually nothing.
As hard as it is to believe, you too probably had all of that creativity in you at one time or another. Unfortunately however, that awesome part of our brain tends to go into siesta mode as we get older (along with our belief that unicorns and Santa just have to be real). But like clockwork, that’s exactly when our kids come to us for some creative interaction (and you thought they were having so much fun playing by themselves).
Time for a little creative awakening. These three project gems are different, interesting and not particularly messy – which is an added bonus. They incorporate imagination, creativity, left and right brain engagement, and best of all … you.
Personalized Lego Instruction Booklet: Have your child build their own, fairly uncomplicated creation out of Legos with different sized, shaped, and colored bricks. Take a photo of the building process after each step and of the final product (the photos will serve as instructions so don’t forget to number the steps). Upload the photos onto the computer and print the “instructions” page by page. Bind the instructions in order using a hole punch and colored pipe cleaners. Later, break down the creation and have your child, their sibling, a friend, or loved one try and recreate it using the personalized instruction booklet!
Photo Collage: Pictures are used to capture a memory or moment in time. When they are “collaged” or assembled tightly together in a somewhat random and overlapping pattern, they create a larger story. Using cut and cropped photos and other paper elements that represent their adventures from this past summer (e.g. notes, ticket stubs, postcards, etc.) have your child assemble a “Summer Story Collage” by gluing or taping the elements onto colored cardstock or poster board. Have your child tell their story to friends and family when they are done. Later, you can hang the poster-size collage in your child’s room or if you made a smaller one, it can be framed as art or included as a page in their scrapbook.
Homemade Comic Books: Do an online search for free printable blank comic strip pages. Try Printable Paper’s comic pages (www.printablepaper.net). Choose a comic page template, print, and create your very own comic strip or book. Comic strips can include words or just pictures and onomatopoeias. Colored pencils work best for sketches as they allow your child to include detailed colored images in the strips that won’t bleed through the paper like ink. You can bind multiple pages with a hole punch and pipe cleaners, staples, or page binders from an office store.