We want to keep it real, easy, cheap and fun! We tend to think that kids need to be entertained every minute, and we need to buy lots of toys for that. But we don’t realize we already have what we need at home. We just need to open our eyes and look at things from a creative point of view.
We recommend you set a box aside and fill it in with any of the following items. That will be your HOME CREATIVE CORNER. You will use the items to create games and art with your kids and, as they grow and get used to that type of play, they will be able to go to the box and create things by themselves, because creativity and imagination are skills that need work, and this is how you can improve it.
- CARDBOARD. Keep cereal boxes, shoe boxes and any cardboard that makes it into your house. You can do so much with it. From creating a photo frame to making a tunnel, a house, decorations for the windows, pretend coins, and so much more.
- TOILET AND KITCHEN ROLLS can be turned into binoculars, into a fairy house if you add a roof, windows and a door, you can stick them on the wall with tape and they can throw a ball through it.
- PAPER PLATES are a nice alternative to paper to create lots of different crafts including animals, a face, clouds, etc. You can also use them to make a toss ring game if you cut out the inside of the plate or decorate it and use it as a Frisbee.
- CONTAINERS. Babies and younger toddlers love to empty containers out. That is an activity in itself. Ask them to transfer from one container to another. As they grow older you can ask them to sort out the items by colours or by type (rocks in one container, tissue in another container…). Practice fine motor skills by doing it with their hands or with tools, like spoons, tongs or any kitchen items. Fill a plastic box with rice, add smaller containers, spoons, funnels, etc. and they will love it!
- LIDS. Keep lids from milk, juice, tomato sauce… You can create a memory game drawing things in the inside, or just to look at different colours and shapes, explore circles, draw a spider on it and sing Incy Wincy with it. Make towers. Make a hole in a cardboard box and let them put the lids into the hole. You can color around the hole to match the color of the hole with the colour of the lids for older toddlers. Throw a dice and that is the number of lids they have to put through.
- Keep MAGAZINES and catalogues that you find in the post. You never know when they will come in handy! You can use them for role play (play shops for example). Look at the items with your kids and talk about it. Cut them out and make a collage. Find the letters of their names. If you have pictures of food you can glue them on plastic lids (from Pringles for example) and use them as pretend food in the play kitchen. Cut out a variety of pictures, put them in a small box or envelope and create a story with your kids as they pick up the images.
- NATURE ELEMENTS. Pick up rocks, sticks, twigs, leaves, grass, flowers, pinecones… and work with it at home. Use them in the play kitchen; paint leaves and print them on paper (like a stamp), then cut them out and hang them on the windows. Sort out rocks from smaller to bigger. Use it with farm animals to create a little farm, or with dinosaurs, or superheroes… You can paint the rocks or glue glitter on them and pretend they are diamonds and hide them around the house.
- EGG CARTON. Turn it into a caterpillar, a boat, a house for bugs. Make holes and put cotton buds or pipe clearers or straws through the holes, this would be a great fine motor skills activity.
- CRAFT SUPPLIES. You will need different things depending on the age of your kids. You can start with water based paint and sponges for babies and add more items as they grow. For toddlers you can add paintbrushes, stickers and chunky markers. For preschoolers add safety scissors, glue stick, tape and PVA white glue (non-toxic). These are things that can be placed somewhere safe but where kids have easy access so they can create things whenever they want and become more independent.
- IMAGINATION. Work is required to develop this skill. It’s a basic life skill that allows you to be creative and solve problems, figure things out, come up with alternatives, find ways to learn things… And this work starts as soon as we are born. Doing simple activities like the ones suggested here will provide resources to improve imagination and many more other skills.