Activities that Promote Creative Thinking in Kids and Youngsters

The time off from school during the summer months is a great opportunity for family activities and for bonding with your child. During the school months, it is often hard to spend quality time with family since everyone is on a strict schedule.  Summertime is ideal for parents to take time off from work as well to create family time and enjoy family vacations.

As much as you want summertime to be a time of freedom and fun for your child, you still want his or her mind to stay active by engaging him or her in activities that aren’t just fun but educational as well. But wait! Don’t say “educational”. The focus of summer is freedom and fun. Don’t ever forget it, or you will likely encounter protests!

Don’t just take a random list of summer activities and then do them. Take the time to learn your child’s interests and talents and tailor activities to these. If your child likes to paint, then let him. Who knows? This could be something that he can really be good at. Your child looks upon you as a role model, so feel free to share your own talents. He might just want to grow up and be like you!

The most important thing to remember is that this is family time, so learn about each other and learn together. With the right activities, learning might even prove to be a lot of fun!

Parties and entertaining

1. Make family dinners into themed dinners. This is a great way for kids to learn about other cultures. They can learn about different cuisines, customs, geography, music, and more.

If it is Italian night, put together a traditional Italian dish. Learn about the flavors in this cuisine, the herbs used and the ingredients used. The children will learn very quickly that people eat what is widely grown in a certain area because of its geographical location. They will learn about cool weather crops and warm weather crops.

Download some traditional music from that culture and listen to it at dinner.

2. Host a kid’s party where the children can learn to make a craft from a faraway land.

3. Put a movie on to watch as a family, or during a sleep-over party, then talk about alternate endings; ask them about their favorite scene; ask them to rate the movie and explain their rating. This activity will appeal to future movie-makers and script writers.

4. Have kids plan a party where they can create the theme, decorations and menu. Even better is to let them make the food, with help and supervision of course! This is a fun activity for kids who aspire to be Martha Stewart or Bobby Flay.

5. If you have a child who likes to perform and be in the limelight, hold a movie awards red carpet party where kids can dress up like their favorite celebrities or movie characters. Take some pictures; have one or two hosts or hostesses to ask questions pertinent to every personality or character. Examples of questions are: “What can a celebrity do to be a positive role model for children?” “Why do you think that movies about vampires and witchcraft are popular with youngsters?” Coming up with well constructed questions and answers will help kids think on their feet. It’s good practice for dealing with stage-fright.

Another activity is to hold a pretend press conference, where there is an interviewee and a number of reporters asking questions. The interviewee can be a celebrity, a politician, an athlete, a mom, a school principal, or whatever they want to be.

One more idea is to hold a mock election campaign where kids deliver campaign speeches that they wrote.

If you are not holding a party, but you have a child who thinks he wants to be a reporter one day or a talk show host, then set up a pretend interview with just the two of you. You can be whoever you want and he can ask relevant questions. If your child thinks he wants to be a governor one day, ask him to write a campaign speech and then deliver it.

Outdoor fun and hobbies

This is easy. All you have to do is to take your child outside, and you will see that creative inspirations abound everywhere.

1.Take a camera and go for a nature walk. Encourage your child to take pictures of what he thinks is cool. This might be a picture of a bright colored leaf, a paw print in the dirt, the sun’s rays penetrating through a canopy of leaves. Your child might want to take pictures of everything that looks interesting to him; or maybe he simply wants to enjoy walking and seeing the different wildflowers, trees, animal wildlife and then learning about them. Maybe your child wants to be a park ranger one day, or a botanist, a zoologist, or an entomologist. Kids love bugs. If he is fascinated by the different appearances and textures of dirt and rocks, maybe he wants to be a geologist. Learning about these sciences in a classroom is one thing, but going outside, and seeing and feeling, will get the imagination going and pique the interest even more.

2. Now what to do with those pictures? Pictures and images are powerful. They often inspire art, design, and even poetry. Your child can do some photo editing; applying different effects, textures, and colors to images. A wide-angle picture might not look anything special, but try pulling it up close and you will see all the fascinating details. If he likes doing this, who knows? There might be a future in graphic design for him. Images can be applied to everything. If your child says, “This bold print of a hibiscus flower will look good on a throw pillow,” this could indicate an interest in interior design. If your child doesn’t see the possibility, you can ask something like, “What do you think we can do with a picture like this?” You don’t have to be doing a specific activity to ask thought-provoking questions. You can be making a sandwich, riding in a car or at a grocery store and still engage your child in a useful discussion.

3. Other outdoor activities are taking a road trip, visiting a state park or national park, going to the beach, visiting a farmer’s market, going to art shows, or seeing a sporting event. The more varied things children are exposed to, the more they learn about themselves and what inspires them.

Serious learning fun

The following are about places and activities that are actually setup for learning, but can be or are made fun.

1. Visit an art museum. Look at art and try to understand it. What is it telling you? Ask your child to do the same. Look at two pieces of art and then compare them. Learn about a few of the artists and the techniques that they employ. Ask your child, “Whose work do you prefer and why?” Share with your child what you think.

2. Visit a science museum, a wax museum, etc.

3. Go to the zoo.

4. Visit our nation’s capital in Washington D.C. and learn about government, history and foreign affairs.

5. Visit a historic battlefield.

6. Walk the downtown of a historic old town.

7. If you are not going anywhere, watch educational videos about travel, history, cultures, sciences, and arts.

8. Read anything and everything (well everything for kids).

Hopefully this article serves as a good starting point for parents and children to create activities that aren’t just fun, but at the same time relevant to the interests of children; to help them grow, explore, and dream big.

Have a fun summer!