Creative people are sometimes born with a specific natural ability, but most kids need some help from their parents and teachers to tap into those skills. We’ve put together a list of 12 activities that promote creativity as well as some tips to help adults work with children and set them up for success in their life. You might even learn how to be more creative in your own life with these ideas.
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Tips to Help Promote Creativity
Innovative thinking is something that comes naturally to many people, but it needs to be cultivated if you want it to be a strong trait in your children. We’ll start with a few tips to help you foster creativity, encouraging young people to flex their imaginations often.
1. Practice the skill of creativity.
Creative thinking is a skill that can be practiced. The more you do it, the better you get, just like anything else. So, when you are thinking about ways to promote creativity with your children, it’s important to continue to provide opportunities for them to practice.
You also don’t want to have to battle to get them to practice, so if there’s one activity that they don’t really enjoy, consider cutting back on that one and switching to something that they like better. If they don’t like painting or playing music, but they love coloring and building legos, give them more opportunities to do those tasks so they get the practice.
2. Encourage risk taking.
Empower your kids to take a few risks. Each time you attempt something that is a little scary or intimidating, you’re pushing yourself to grow. So maybe they incorporate something new with their creative time each week.
For adults, we often get self-conscious when anything sticks out a bit, but kids aren’t wired that way when they are young – it’s a learned behavior. Encourage them to do things differently and discover what they like. Give a lot of praise and positive feedback anytime they try something new and unique to them. Help them learn when they don’t succeed, they are just growing and will be closer to making it happen the next time.
Think about how scary it is the first time you ride your bike without the training wheels, but after a few cruises down the street with a couple of minor accidents and tipping off the bike, it becomes so much easier. Taking creative risks is similar and each time, you will keep learning each time something doesn’t go as planned and get better the next time.
3. Introduce new activities.
Creative skills cover a wide range of activities. When kids are young, it’s good to introduce them to so many creative outlets and hobbies. The more things they try, the more likely they are to find the best fit for them as they grow up and they can work to improve their skills.
If you’ve tried coloring, drawing, and painting and they don’t seem to be doing the trick, you can switch to other art mediums like pottery, photography, or sculpting. Some activities are harder than others to do at home without a collection of supplies, but libraries, community centers, and after-school programs can help make them more accessible.
For music lovers, there are so many ways to express yourself. Try instrument lessons, choir, musical theater, and dance. Creativity is so much more than just art. Write stories, take photos, decorate rooms in the home, and arrange flowers—there are so many creative outlets, so it’s important to keep introducing children to these options so they can find things that they love and want to keep doing.
4. Change the scenery.
To create a healthy and encouraging learning environment, keep things fresh. This can be as simple as changing the toys that are out on the shelves every few weeks to rearranging play spaces. Changing the scenery and layouts can help jumpstart the creative process. Kids might utilize the items in their playroom totally differently and come up with fresh ideas for their favorite toys if they see them displayed in a new way.
It works the same way with places you visit. Visiting the same playground over and over can be comforting, but try switching it up and see how the usual games and activities change. It helps teach children to be adaptable, which is crucial as they grow up. It’s OK to have favorites, but trying new things and being open to the idea will help keep engagement high and keep those creative juices flowing.
5. Focus on confidence and optimism.
Reaching your full creative potential requires a positive attitude and a feeling of confidence in yourself. Those are important qualities of development for a multitude of reasons, but when it comes to creativity, you need to feel confident in your abilities. Creative outlets often feel a little vulnerable, so you need to be comfortable in those moments.
Talk to your child about positive attitudes and all the benefits of working through those self-criticisms. It’s important that they learn to see those as roadblocks that they are capable of getting through. Celebrate each time they have a success and it will help them build up their confidence. Eventually, they will be able to work through those moments on their own.
6. Try multiple solutions to problems.
Creative ideas are extremely important throughout life when it comes to problem-solving. Whether you work in a creative field, like filmmaking, or you find yourself sitting on a board of a large corporation, you’re going to face tough situations that will require some creative solutions to solve.
Help your kids start practicing and honing this skill while they are young. Practice brainstorming and all the ways you can map out your ideas. Use real-life problems they are having at school or in their lives. Talk them through all the possible outcomes and get creative with all the solutions. Challenge them to think through the pros and cons of various solutions and pick the best outcome.
Problem-solving is a skill that you will use thousands of times in your life. By giving kids a head start in understanding the best ways to do it and some strategies behind it, you will be setting them up for success. It won’t just boost their creativity, but also help them understand the importance of weighing the options and using critical thinking to determine the best route forward.
Give creativity a high level of importance.
Valuing creativity is necessary if you want anyone to put any focus on it in their daily routines. Kids need to see you practicing creativity. Talk to them about your favorite creative outlets. You’d be surprised how interested your kids are in the fun things you are trying. Have you tried a new recipe lately? Did you have a big breakthrough at work? Celebrate your own creative wins with your family to let your kids see how important it is.
If you haven’t done anything creative in recent months, try something new. Watch some YouTube videos and learn how to draw your favorite cartoon character. Pick up your old guitar and see how much you remember. Grab a coloring book and enjoy the soothing practice of filling in the lines.
Celebrate creativity in as many ways as possible as a family and your kids will learn to make it second nature. Participate in things together, and encourage one another. Display works of art, and attend shows and concerts. Cheer each other on in this endeavor, just as you would if you were watching a sports event.
12 Activities That Promote Creativity in Kids
To help you get started celebrating creativity as a family, here are a few types of activities that you can start putting some effort into. Read through these suggestions and pick a few to get started on right away. You’ll probably be pleasantly surprised to find out that you already do many of these, but get inspired to add a few more to your routine.
1. Play with building blocks.
Legos and other toys that are used for building are great for promoting creativity in children in addition to helping with creative problem solving and coming up with innovative solutions. Whether you purchase a set that has instructions on how to build a specific structure or you just get a collection for them to free play, they will inevitably run into some challenges. Being able to adjust and figure out a way to use the pieces or rearrange some of them will help exercise that crucial problem-solving part of their brain.
Another popular building block toy is a marble track. This is a set of tubes and obstacles that snap together to make a long track for marbles. If you don’t build it correctly, they will get stuck or fly off the side. It challenges kids to put it together like a puzzle and then watch as the marbles pass through.
2. Set up an art station.
Do your children have an art workspace somewhere in the house right? There should be a dedicated location they know about where they can start a new project when the creative bug bites.
This does not need to be a giant art table, you can make it possible in any space. It should just be reasonably accessible to your child with some basic supplies. Keep some blank paper (or scratch paper) for coloring and drawing and include markers or crayons. You can even include some playdough for sculpting. This should be a surface that can be easily wiped off and cleaned if there are some rogue marks.
Making supplies for crafts easy to reach can help make it a go-to activity when they are working to entertain themselves. You can also use the same spot for some of the more involved art activities like painting, but those don’t need to be as easy because they involve a little more supervision. You can also decorate this area with a frame wall featuring some of their creations to show appreciation and support.
3. Create homemade gifts.
Some of the best creative projects are homemade gifts for holidays. Instead of heading to the store to pick out a gift that the recipient may or may not need or want, sit down with your kids and have some brainstorming sessions. What kind of homemade gifts could you make for your family, friends, and neighbors?
Homemade gifts are extra special because they are one of a kind. Kids can draw pictures, create frames, make their own baked goods, or create works of art with ceramics. Make small planters, make some origami flowers, or have the kids add a little creative touch to something you purchase.
Children love being included in the decision-making process whenever possible, so by sitting down and letting them come up with some ideas, you might be surprised at how observant they are of the people in their lives. They might come up with a gift idea that is better than anything you were considering.
4. Include kids in the kitchen.
Create opportunities to involve kids in daily tasks around the house. Not only does this start to teach them some of the skills they will need as they grow up, but it gives you additional time together as a family and helps them flex some of their creative muscles.
The kitchen is the best place to start with. When you’re preparing a meal and following a recipe, there are always some of the prep steps that can be done by a younger child (when supervised.) Have them mix ingredients together or measure out certain items. Once dinner is made, they will get so excited sharing with the family that they helped to cook.
Baking is another fun way to incorporate kids in the kitchen. Give them their own apron and let them get messy mixing flour and sugar together. Make cookies or cakes that they can decorate. This can be a fun activity for birthdays or special occasions. Just be prepared for a giant mess afterward (although you can include the children in the clean-up process as well if you have any remaining patience.)
5. Sign up for music lessons.
Some families don’t start thinking about music lessons until junior high or high school band opportunities come up, but there are so many instruments and musical outlets before your child reaches that age. Piano is an extremely popular instrument to learn. All the music knowledge you gain can help you learn additional instruments later in life as well.
Other popular choices for younger children include guitar, drums, dance, and choir. By introducing music in various ways, you’re encouraging your child to connect with their creative side and they will need to practice and stick with the instrument or class in order to see the results. Celebrating with recitals or concerts is so rewarding and kids will feel a sense of pride and accomplishment when they get to show off on a big stage for their friends and family.
The earlier you start lessons like this, the easier it is for your child to pick it up and make it second nature. Their brains are clean slates when they are that young and can really hang on to the skills they learn.
6. Take advantage of technology.
So many articles are screaming scary headlines about the impact of too much screen time, but there’s definitely a balance. It’s hard to completely avoid screens with the technology that is part of our mainstream society today. Use that screen time to benefit your child by being intentional about it.
There are some innovative ideas and apps that developers have created to help kids be creative on phones, ipads, and computers. It’s important for them to learn how to use the computers, just like it’s important to learn how to read. Harness the technology resources and take advantage of the benefits instead of just turning on TV show after TV show.
Another great use of technology involves using social media to find resources related to kids craft projects and activities. There are hundreds of Pinterest boards and entire Instagram accounts dedicated to parenting advice. If you are struggling with ideas on how to help encourage creativity for your children, turn to the internet.
7. Visit playgrounds and jungle gyms.
A child’s imagination flourishes when they are encouraged to put it to use as often as possible. Think about how kids play at the playground. They make up adventures like they are on a pirate ship or in a princesses castle. There are countless creative ways to view the playground equipment and structures.
Kids will come up with games like Don’t Touch the Lava and play for hours using simple jungle gyms as their tools. By bringing kids to the playground often, they are also introduced to new children that might have unique ideas and new games. They learn to share and play alongside other humans in a healthy way.
Playgrounds are a hot spot for creativity, so by making that part of your weekly routine, you’re automatically introducing them to an incredible resource.
8. Explore museums.
Learning needs to be fun in order to encourage your children to become lifelong learners. Museums are designed to showcase important artifacts and history. Sure, there are some that are not too exciting, but visit a Children’s Museum or Science Museum and you’ll be inundated with fascinating exhibits and interactive displays. It’s perfect for younger children (and curious adults).
Another great example is the local zoo. Inviting your children to learn about all the animals and plants and understanding how they all work and live together is important to their creative growth. Most zoos cover multiple environments and ecosystems so it’s like traveling without leaving town.
9. Bring kids along on vacations.
It might not feel like a vacation when you bring the whole family along, but it’s so important to introduce children to new places, cultures, and people. Travel can open their eyes to so many new experiences, foods, and scenery.
Think about how you feel after exploring a brand new city or country. You take hundreds of photos and then spend time reflecting on the new things you experienced. Now, imagine that through a small child’s eyes who has seen so much less of the world. Those experiences will help shape them and make them more empathetic and open to new things as they grow.
Traveling also helps build a child’s confidence which is essential in creativity. There will be unique responsibilities and moments where the kids will be tested in a new setting and with each of those opportunities, there is growth.
10. Enjoy regular game nights.
Problem-solving and coming up with creative solutions is a huge benefit of playing board games. Each game presents a unique problem or goal. By playing with the family, your young children are able to witness how adults and other children solve the problems laid out in front of them. It’s inspiring and it’s tons of fun.
Play games like Scrabble and Boggle to work on reading and vocabulary. Strategy games like Battleship and Stratego will help them create a plan to win the game and adapt as things come up throughout the game. Story games like Candyland and Chutes and Ladders are about luck as much as strategy, but they help provide a fun activity that everyone can get involved in.
With older kids, you can bring out trivia-type games, like Cranium, and work all the parts of the brain. Charades, Codenames, and games where you need to act out and describe people, places, or things, can really help flex those creative muscles. If you have family at a distance or can’t get the gang together in one place, consider virtual game nights from Let’s Roam!
11. Get a library card and start reading.
A public library is an amazing tool for people of all ages. Get kids started young with their own library card and bring them weekly to search the shelves for books they want to read. Give them the ability to pick out some of their own. See what draws their attention. Plus, the books are free, so it’s OK if they pick out some things and do not love them. Going to the library can help children learn that there are books out there for everyone and it encourages them to try out as many as they’d like.
Reading is one of the best ways to promote creativity because it transports people into new worlds and lets them experience something from another point of view. You can mix it up between fiction and non-fiction. Set reading goals even in the summer when school might not. Giving them the chance to select books however they want will help them be more excited to pick them up when you get home.
You can also use storytime to have deeper conversations about life. Use examples from a story you’re reading to discuss important topics like friendship, family, trust, respect, and much more. Sometimes it’s easier for a child to hear a story about someone else to help them relate and understand instead of explaining it in general terms.
12. Try new sports and activities.
A range of experiences can help a child’s brain process things in various ways. New sports require new skills, and by taking the time to focus and learn how to kick a soccer ball or aim for a baseball with a bat, they will also be expanding their brain and working it out in new ways.
Each new experience and activity comes with new words, motions, and skills. Anything that is learned just adds to the things a child can draw from in their brain when it’s time to get creative. For example, if you sign up your child for a dance class, they might spend the next few months incorporating new kinds of movement into their playtime. They might request new costumes and ask for songs that they had at dance class to be added to an at-home playlist.
The more exposure to new activities that a child has, the more personal experiences they will be able to use. Plus, the best way to find their talents and natural abilities is to let them try a little bit of everything. Don’t just stick to one sport or class. Take advantage of programs offered by schools, libraries, and community centers to see what really grabs their attention. And make sure to be a cheerleader.
Celebrate your tiny artists today!
Enjoy some family time doing new things together like the options on this list. Sprinkle these in on your family fun days and take advantage of all the benefits while enjoying time together as a family.
Frequently Asked Questions
If you want to promote creativity in your children, introduce them to as many activities and outlets as possible. Sign up for after-school programs, library classes, and events at the community center.
To promote creativity with kids, it’s important to change the scenery and introduce them to new places outside their bubble as much as possible. Museums, libraries, playgrounds, and even vacations are all great adventures.
When you want to promote creativity, trying new things as a family is essential. Adventures from Scratch: Family Edition has 50+ activities for the whole gang! Each one is a surprise until you scratch it off.