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Benefits of creative play

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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 it’s tempting to leave all the ‘messy’ 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:

Intellectual Benefits

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.

Physical Benefits

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, it’s important to recognise that your child’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. That’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

It’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 ‘hanging out’, children can get together to make and create.

What equipment does my child need for Creative Play?

Encouraging creativity in your child doesn’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 it’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 – wax, plastic and oil
  • Paints – water, acrylic, tempera
  • Dyes
  • Coloured Pencils and Felt Pens
  • Brushes and Sponges
  • Modelling Clays and Doughs
  • Printmaking Equipment
  • Scissors
  • 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 now…..let’s get busy.

Useful articles

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!

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The Kiwi Families Team

This information was compiled by the Kiwi Families team.

  • Rani7856

    this is a very good site to go on if you do not understand about creative play and that this will help you in many of your home work thank  you :)

  • Lol

    Thank you for helping me! GCSE child development is driving me crazy but this helped me!

  • Ilovemy3blackbabies

    Fantastic! Im so clever now! My 3 children under 2 wont sit at home and do nothing but watch TV and eat, I have some activities lined up for them THANKS!

  • NicolaRuilo

    great but what if you child is disabled?

    • KandyGurl

      Its probably on other sites ;)

  • GuilianaJortyu

    What do I do if i dont have a child?

  • DollyFendi

    Im so inspired, Social services took my child for 6 months for abandoning and I want to prove to them that I care! I have these activities lines up for my child so the social worker thinks Im a good mum. Thank you xxx

    • Rant!

      think you are a good mum you should be one anyway not have to pretend FFS

  • Kym

    creative play is extremely important for children. Nowadays far too many just sit inside playing computer games or watching TV.

  • helpme

    my child development teacher is a bitch help me

  • katielovecock

    my hubby beat the fuck outa my kids and the bloomin soicals took em i am fumin

  • lollllyyyybollly

    Thanks for helping me with this information I has helped me with my research for my coursework.

  • sophie lazurus

    im having trouble with my vagina as i get poo coming out there instead of my bumhole. i really dont know what to do!!!! i always have to change my knickers nearly 5 times a day from it! no one likes me because i always smell :(

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