A Full Drawer of Imagination
Fostering creativity in my kids is a big deal to me as a mom. God Himself is infinitely creative (see Genesis 1), so I think that ingenuity is a way of reflecting His image. It also can be a response to His command to subdue creation — creating technology and other forms of mastering this world He’s given us. And I love the chance for His workmanship in my kids to continue to express itself, particularly in ways I haven’t thought of. In fact, the Greek word for workmanship in Ephesians 2:10, poiema, is where we get our English word poem. In a sense, we’re God’s poem — His creative reflection of Himself!
I spoke with a teacher of talented and gifted students recently who gave me a great suggestion along these lines. I now designate a drawer in our house as the “Imagination Drawer”: It’s got some masking tape, cardboard tubes from things like paper towels, empty juice mix canisters, empty ribbon spools, collapsed cardboard boxes, different sized lids, paper brads — whatever. My boys like to dig through it and make rocket ships, cars, and creations of their own invention. If your kids need a problem to solve, they can make a marble run or figure out what best cushions a falling egg.
This further step probably sounds risky to a lot of you, but I also started to keep art supplies and “school” supplies of the not-too-messy category at a level where they can reach it. Now, my boys are more builders than color-ers, so I don’t deal with the consequences too often, but the idea is that creativity is accessible to them. (Tip from a friend: Make sure to write your child’s name and the date on the back of each picture. These make great homemade thank-you notes to relatives, too, writing a message on the front.)
As for other ideas — we also have a box solely for musical instruments on a shelf they use a lot. My mom was always great about having a bunch of ideas in her head for role-playing: library, office, grocery store, post office, zoo (stick animals under laundry baskets with bowls, ribbons to act as leashes, etc.), hospital, camping, theater. Envision the various identities and scenarios kids can place themselves in with games like these!
You probably already have building blocks, books, and role playing/dress-up boxes within a reachable height. And I’m sure you’ve got your own suggestions to foster creativity, so let us hear them! (Surely there are some inner art teachers and preschool/elementary teachers out there with this kind of knowledge burning in your brains.) The comments section is open!