Alexa is turning 5 in a few months. Gah, I love this age.
Writing about this little girl hasn’t been the same this year. Previously I soaked up all of her experiences and kept them here for posterity. I was (and still am) terrified of forgetting her as-is, how she was in the moment. The irony is that, as time goes on, I’m starting to feel like her stories are no longer mine to tell.
We are living more in the moment. It’s a blessing and a curse. She is changing so fast, this little kid. We used to have one-sided chats. Now we have philosophical debates about whether it’s going to rain. The things she finds endearing one day are old hat the next. The toys she loved a month ago are boring now. The stick figures she used to draw are now pretty impressive renderings of Mickey Mouse.
She’s constantly keeping me on my toes with her personality and intelligence, but I’m finding my groove here in encouraging creative and imaginative play.
Here are some of my tried-and-true ways to keep her creativity flowing.
5 Ways to Encourage Creative Play with Preschoolers
1. Break out the crafts.
Last week we gathered pinecones that had fallen to the ground, and I suggested that we could decorate them. We brainstormed how we would do it, ultimately deciding on glitter and paste. Sometimes our ideas aren’t so solid, so I pull out an entire plastic bin full of random stuff, and we’ll color, collage, paint, etc. Sometimes I just give her a pair of scissors and some construction paper and ask her to cut out shapes for me. It doesn’t really matter what you’re making. as long as you’re creating next to your child, they will follow suit.
2. The family that apps together stays together.
Not all apps are created equal, so you’ll have to do some searching. A few of our favorites are Toca Town, which is kinda like playing paper dolls. Another fun one is the Princess Story Theater, where you can record your voices for future playback while moving the characters around on the screen. There are dress-up apps, cooking apps, the sky’s really the limit nowadays. Your child will have fun playing with these apps by herself, but it’s even better if you play with them. Your perspective and questions will stoke the fires of creativity!
3. Let your child play alone, unsupervised.
There’s something about being a kid this age. The straddling of constant authority and the hint of freedom. I love to play with Alexa, but I know there is value in letting her play by herself in her room. I’m never far away. She can call out to me if she needs me. But I don’t eavesdrop, and I let her explore her world on her own terms. Yes, I’m curious what she’s up to, but chances are in 10 minutes she’ll run out of her room wearing snow boots, a bikini and goggles and babbling about going scuba diving. So don’t worry — your highly creative child will want to share their imagination with you eventually.
4. Pretend X is Y and vice versa.
A spoon can be a catapult. A stuffed cat can be a crowned prince. A brush can be a microphone. You get the point. I like to encourage Alexa to think outside the box by pretending her toys are more than meets the eye. In the same vein, if I see her toys lined up in peculiar ways, I ask her what they are. Sometimes the answers are straightforward, other times a line of cars are really rocket ships waiting to launch. You just never know!
5. Provide constructive toys.
Lately Alexa has been enjoying Bunchems — fun, colorful little balls that stick together when you squish them, allowing you to create any number of creatures. Check out this tutorial on how to make a monkey with Bunchems. These open-ended construction toys are perfect for unleashing some creativity in your kid. Play alongside, and you’ll see how easy they are to connect, twist and create. Toys like this that foster architecture and design are a surefire way to connect with your kid. I can’t think of a better conversation starter than “What are you building?”
I’d love to hear what kinds of things you do to encourage creativity with your kids. This mama is always looking for new tips to keep things interesting.
And, to go retro, what did you like to do when you were 5? Do you remember?
When I was 5 I was all about drawing princesses and their myriad gowns, and sketching with my Fashion Plates and Spirographs. Do you remember those!?
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.