Since I wrote about helping your grandchildren develop creativity, I have been thinking quite a bit about it. Throughout the years when my children were growing up, I have watched how (in general) children’s opportunity to think creatively slowly wanes. Is it because parents or teachers squelch children’s creativity in an effort to help them mature and grow up? Is it because as children get into junior and senior high school they think creative activities aren’t cool? Whatever the reasons, there are several things that grandmothers can do to help their grandchildren develop creativity.
First, a little bit about creativity. Creativity is important because it allows scientists to make discoveries, inventors to develop new inventions, and parents to solve problems. Creativity isn’t just the ability to draw or paint a lovely picture. It is far more.
I used to teach a gifted and talented class at a local elementary school and was able to learn about creativity. Creativity is based on four things: originality, fluency, flexibility, and elaboration. Originality is the ability to think fresh or unusual ideas. Fluency is the ability to generate a large number of ideas or responses. Flexibility is the ability take a situation or problem and change the way it is perceived, approached, or dealt with. Elaboration is the ability to expand on one idea and make changes or add details.
So what does this have to do with grandmothers? Plenty. You can provide opportunities for your grandchildren to develop their creativity — and have fun in the process. And, if they enjoy the activities you do with them, you are strengthening your relationship and building a strong family unit (which is the ultimate purpose of this site) all the while you are helping them develop creativity.
I think that one of the most important things a grandmother can do is to praise those instances when she see creative thinking or creative problem solving. Verbal praise demonstrates to your grandchildren that you value creativity and that creativity is important. Another important thing you can do is to provide your grandchildren with a wide variety of activities in the four areas of creativity that I mentioned above.
So, let’s first talk about the element of originality. Have you played the game Scategories? That is an excellent example of an activity that encourages originality. (It could also fall under fluency.) Scategories would be a great game for a grandmother to stock in her game closet to play often with her grandchildren. There is a junior version for younger children and then the regular one for older players. As you play the game, praise your grandchildren for all of their original and creative ideas. (You might want to give that game to your grandchildren as a gift so you can play it with them when you visit their home.)
Here is a list of other activities that develops originality:
- Creature Creation. Have your grandchild select any two letters of the alphabet. Give them old magazines to go through and cut out seven or eight examples of these two letters in a variety of colors, sizes, and styles. Then, give them a sheet of paper and some glue. Have them create a creature from the letters that they have cut out of the magazines. They can use crayons or marking pens to add details such as facial features. You might want to suggest that they come up with a name for the creature. Hang their creation on your fridge or send it home with your grandchild so they can display it on their fridge.
- Door Design. Give your grandchild a piece of paper and crayons or marking pens. Have them select a door from a place of their choosing (such as a laboratory, a pizza place, a car repair business, a mansion, or clothing store). Then have them design a door that would be appropriate for the place that they chose.
- Disney Ride. Have your grandchild design a new ride for Disneyland and draw it on a piece of paper. Depending on your grandchild’s age, have him think about how to make the ride safe, how to make it visually appealing for a certain age, or how to make it fit in with a certain theme that is already in Disneyland.
Here is a list of ideas that helps to develop fluency:
- List as many creative ways to use gum other than chewing it. (An example could be to mend a hole in a tennis shoes.)
- Think of as many creative reasons for NOT cleaning their bedroom.
- List as many creative ways as you can think of to transport a tiger that is not in a cage from one zoo to another.
Here are ideas for activities that develop flexibility:
- Create a costume for Halloween with items found only in grandma’s home (or their own home).
- Think of as many ideas as possible for different ways to use a bucket.
- Come up with creative ideas of ways that a nine-year old could make money during the summer.
Here are ideas that help develop elaboration:
- Design a personalized phone (not a cell phone) for a rock star, a doctor, a chef, or a diesel mechanic.
- Think of ways to improve a playground in a city park.
- Select a TV ad that you don’t like and explain what you would do to improve it.
You could also play the ‘What If’ game. Give your grandchildren ‘what if ‘ situations and have them say what they would do. (You could even challenge them to give YOU situations!) Make them wild and wacky and challenging situations. You could do this while rocking a grandchild on your lap, as you ate lunch together, or were in the car while running errands. Here are some examples:
- What if you woke up one morning and your skin was blue with yellow polka dots?
- What if you opened your front door and there were cannibals in the yard?
- What if something that you ate made you grow a horse tail, have elephant ears, and speak in pig Latin. (You might have to explain what pig Latin is!)
I’m extending a challenge to all of my readers. See how creative you can be. See if you can come up with an original idea of an activity to do with your grandchildren. Or, see if you can take an activity and change it, improve it, make it more fun. See how many ideas for activities you can think of for a holiday that does not normally have lots of celebrations connected to it (like Ground Hog’s Day, Flag Day, or Veteran’s Day). Or take one activity that you have gotten from someone else on this web site and see how you can change it or add details to personalize it and make it fit your situation.
Then, please feel free to share your ideas and experiences here! I’d love to hear how creative your grandchildren are — and how creative YOU have been.