9 Ways To Improve Creativity For Kids
An incredible 90% of our brain growth happens before kindergarten. As parents and grandparents, our goal is to spark personal creativity and imagination so that our children grow up to be well-rounded, confident and inspired adults.
Children, of course, have an innate curiosity, but how can we help them explore even more critical thinking so that they keep using their imaginations as they grow older?
When we make a conscious effort to play, explore and interact with new sensory environments, our children benefit enormously.
Follow these nine tips on how to improve creativity in children, and you may even find a little inspiration yourself!
1. Get Outside
When we’re in sensory-rich environments, new neural connections and pathways can spark fresh ideas.
This makes intuitive sense. When we’re out in nature, we’re confronted with new questions: What’s that? How can I get over this log? What’s the best path to avoid getting my feet wet? (Or what’s the biggest puddle I can jump into?) What smells bad? What smells good?
Solving these questions using critical thinking leads to development and growth. Children become aware of a greater world outside themselves, and may even develop a passion for the great outdoors.
However, depending on where you live, it may be difficult to find green space.
Consider the following options:
Find a local park
Visit a botanical garden
See if local museums have sculpture gardens or outdoor spaces
Find a farm that is open to the public
Visit a nearby beach, nature preserve, or bird sanctuary
Take a vacation to a spot of natural wonder
Just about any natural texture provides sensations and opportunities you can’t find indoors.
If all else fails, simply playing in the backyard has benefits over staring at a screen!
2. Enhance Their Play Environment
A child’s play environment should be clean, safe and, above all, fun!
In addition to stocking your playroom with toys, stimulate all five senses, including smell, by incorporating uplifting essential oils for creativity into your children’s play environment.
Our favorite essential oils for kids that can help inspire creativity include:
Bee Happy – An essential oil blend with bright citrus oils like Lemon and Mandarin paired with serene Douglas Fir and Lavender essential oil create a relaxed, joyful atmosphere where creative expression can thrive.
Cedarwood Atlas – Towering cedar trees impart a feeling of groundedness, along with the limitless potential for growth. This spicy, woodsy aroma is relaxing yet inspiring.
Kunzea – Native to Tasmania, sweet, herbaceous Kunzea is an ally for creative pursuits of all kinds.
Palo Santo – A go-to choice for purifying and grounding, Palo Santo is peppery yet sharp. Use it to help spark new connections when brainstorming.
Pop your aroma of choice in an essential oil diffuser and get ready for a variety of fun creativity exercises that are sure to ignite innovative thinking at home.
3. Gather Natural Materials
While you’re on your outdoor adventure, gather a few souvenirs from nature to take home. This could include:
Rocks, stones and shells – Use nail polish to make pet rocks or collect materials to create a mosaic. The smooth surfaces of rocks and stones make them ideal for art projects of all kinds. A budding geologist may be inspired to keep their samples in a shoebox for years to come!
Leaves and flowers – Start a leaf identification project, or use leaves as a material in collages and art projects. You can also press leaves and flowers between pages of books to create dried flowers and pretty floral reliefs.
Sticks – Find a trusty hiking stick to take on your next hike. If your child is old enough to safely use whittling tools, they may even be interested in engraving or carving the wood.
Just be sure not to bring back any materials that may be poisonous or that serve as a home to insects or fungi.
4. Tell A Story
Reading books is an excellent way to develop your kid’s long-term literacy and creative muscle. The only thing better? Making up unique stories of your own!
Collaborate on a story together by introducing a few narrative elements and helping your kid fill in the blanks. Help them get inspired with:
A story basket – Fill a basket with yarn, figurines, stones, paper clips, pipe cleaners and any other small items that could help them get inspired. Have them choose two or three, and then start to make up a story around them.
Toys – Favorite stuffed animals, puppets or cars can become the protagonists of your stories.
Plot points – Tell them that your story will start with a beginning, and take the character on a journey. Where would they like the story to go? Help them introduce other characters and elements of conflict along the way.
You can create a story as a one-off, or begin to develop a set of characters and mythology that can be built out and returned to at future playtimes. Take notes so you can remember what happened last, but don’t be afraid to veer from the script and rewrite history!
5. Add Visual Elements And Make Art
If your child falls in love with a story, they’ll want ways to retell it again and again.
Keep it fresh and interesting by collaborating on visual components to accompany playtime.
Draw the story
Make a collage depicting the story world
Use popsicle sticks and cut-outs to create shadow puppets
Sculpt Play-Doh or clay
You don’t need fancy supplies. Old photographs and magazines can be a great basis, as can common household items. Just be sure you have plenty of tape, glue and cleaning supplies on hand!
You can use art supplies to introduce new figures and characters whenever the story world needs a burst of new energy.
Of course, you can also create an art project that has nothing to do with any narrative or character just for the fun of it.
6. Play Music
No matter what activity you’re doing, playing music in the background can help your child develop new neural connections.
Of course, as your child grows up, they’ll likely develop their own musical preferences. Play music they like, and regularly expose them to new genres and (age-appropriate) tunes.
You can also consider buying a few easy-to-use instruments and starting a family band:
A karaoke machine can also be a blast. Encourage your kid to sing along to favorite songs or make up their own lyrics!
You can also craft household alternatives out of the stuff you have on-hand. A coffee container can be a drum, an empty can filled with beads can become maracas… the list goes on.
7. Ditch The Screens
One thing that stifles creative thought and play?
Digital screens of any kind.
If you start looking at your phone in the middle of storytime, it sends your child the message that whatever is on your screen is more fun than your time together.
Likewise, if they’re used to spending significant time watching television, they may find that free-form, aimless playtime requires more effort and attention.
That’s why it’s so important to create firm rules around screens—for the whole family!
The Mayo Clinic recommends that children spend a maximum of just an hour a day on screens. Even so, they should be interacting with high-quality content, not random YouTube videos.
When you’re playing, make sure all screens are out of sight. Consider creating a designated hour per day when screens are allowed (i.e., right before dinner).
8. Vary Your Routine
As we’ve gone over, new stimuli and projects are key for sparking new connections and inspiring new passions.
To put it another way, making a diorama is great—but just about any kid might get bored by their fourth or fifth consecutive day on the same project. It's important to introduce new creativity exercises that require brainstorming and innovative thinking.
Try to incorporate a fun, creative task into as many days as you can—but be sure to vary that activity. Regularly bring in new toys and supplies (even if it’s just your recycling). Other tips include:
Do seasonal activities – Carve pumpkins in the fall, make ornaments in the winter and plant seeds in the spring.
Make play dates – Other families may have unique ways to entertain their kids. Take advantage of their knowledge!
Get out of town – Plan a family vacation or long weekend when you can, even if it's just to visit nearby family members.
9. Boost Their Confidence
No matter what you’re doing, make sure you’re engaging in habits that help foster self-esteem.
If you send the message that there’s a “right” way to exhibit creative expression, it may lead to feelings of self-doubt. This can stifle your kid’s creativity, making them more hesitant to sing, play, dance and draw for fear of judgment. In time, this will make study time and learning more difficult. Though there are ways to enhance the learning experience as children get older, such as introducing essential oils for studying, laying the foundation for self-confidence is vital to their growth and development now and into their adulthood.
When building confidence in kids, it’s important to practice positive reinforcement, always praising the children in your life for their effort and creative output.
After all, it’s easy to experiment when we know there’s no risk of failure!
Aromatherapy For Every Occasion
The key to creative thinking is curiosity and mental clarity. Humanity’s rich history of inquisitiveness is deeply rooted in our need to understand and work with the natural world. Are you curious about how essential oils might help spark your child’s creativity?
At Edens Garden, our Ok For Kids line is researched and formulated with little ones’ safety and needs in mind. Contact us today and speak to a certified aromatherapist if you have any additional questions about a diffuser blend or other essential oils that are safe for kids.
- “Screen Time and Children.” The Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/childrens-health/in-depth/screen-time/art-20047952
- “Early Brain Development and Health.” CDC. https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/childdevelopment/early-brain-development.html