Creative Play is what children do when they are just being children, and there are plenty of things you can do to encourage creative play in your home. Whether it is drawing, painting, cutting, pasting, modelling or making, all children love being creative if they are given the chance, and the act of being creative brings with it so many benefits.
What skills will my child develop through Creative Play?
While itâ€™s tempting to leave all the â€˜messyâ€™ creative activities for your child to do at school or day care in NZ, there are so many skills they can learn by having the freedom to do them at home, and developing a love of creative process will set your child up as a creative thinker in all walks of life.
Some of the benefits and skills your child will gain through creative play include:
Even at a young age, creative activities help to develop basic maths skills such as geometry (size and shape), measuring, and sorting. There is also a great deal of problem solving and concentration which happens as children learn to take what is in their head, and put it onto paper. In the early years they need to ask themselves basic questions like will this glue be strong enough, if I cut here will it fit, or how can I stop the paint from dripping? In solving these problems they learn about the creative thinking process.
As children get older, different arts and crafts require more complex thinking skills, and many activities need an understanding of basic science concepts for them to make sense. Things like mixing specific colours or creating a mosaic pattern may seem like creative activities, but without an intellectual component the creativity falls apart. As your child learns these skills in a creative area, they can transfer them to other areas of their life as well.
Painting, drawing, cutting and pasting all help to develop fine motors skills in young children, which in turn helps them to be writing-ready as they near school age. Children are not born with a pencil in their hand, so it takes time to develop the skills required to make one work. Creative play helps to develop those skills.
With that in mind, itâ€™s important to recognise that your childâ€™s scribbles represent a huge milestone in their physical development. Remember in the space of a year or so, your child has gone from the stage of not even knowing they have hands, to being able to pick up a crayon, move it over the paper, and apply enough pressure for it to actually leave a mark. Thatâ€™s incredible!
To put it in perspective, trying drawing a picture with a crayon held between your toes. The strength and co-ordination required to make that happen, is less than that required of toddlers learning to draw. Just making a mark is a milestone.
As children get older, creative activities will help further develop their fine motor skills, as well as their hand-eye coordination.
Emotional and Social Benefits
Itâ€™s no secret that creative activities provide a positive outlet for children (and adults) to express their emotions, and this starts at a very young age. Making a range of equipment and materials accessible for your child, means that creative expression becomes as normal as brushing their teeth.
As children get older, arts and crafts can provide a safe and positive way for children to socialise with others. Instead of just â€˜hanging outâ€™, children can get together to make and create.
What equipment does my child need for Creative Play?
Encouraging creativity in your child doesnâ€™t need to be expensive, but it is important that they have some basic equipment available to use when the creative bug bites. Things like crayons, paints, coloured paper, scissors, and glue should be basics in your creative play box, but there are literally hundreds of other things you can include as well.
Good stationery stores, emporiums, and educational toy stores can all provide you with a variety of art supplies, and itâ€™s amazing what children can create using everyday materials from around the house. Some good materials and equipment to introduce through the years are:
- Crayons â€“ wax, plastic and oil
- Paints â€“ water, acrylic, tempera
- Coloured Pencils and Felt Pens
- Brushes and Sponges
- Modelling Clays and Doughs
- Printmaking Equipment
- Stamps and Punches
- Paper and cardboard
- Collage Materials
- Glues and Adhesives
- Craft Kits
- Moulds and Templates
- Easels and Activity Tables
- Aprons and Accessories
To find out about what equipment and materials are best for specific age groups, check out Equipment for Creative Play.
Above all else, give your child the space and time to be creative for creative sakes. Keep a box full of bits and pieces on hand, and try not to stress about the mess. Creative activities are not just airy-fairy feel-good things, they help your child develop intellectually, physically and socially. So nowâ€¦..letâ€™s get busy.
Our ‘creative arts and crafts‘ section has more great articles to help you come up with new craft ideas for your kids. We’d also love to hear your ideas so make sure you leave a comment if you have another brilliant idea!