Ideas and Objects to Nourish Children’s Creativity
After working as a museum art educator for five years, I developed a few favorite art supplies and gift ideas. Nowadays there is a huge STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) push in public schools. Art museums, prefer to emphasize the STEA(art)M approach – highlighting the interdisciplinary impact art and creativity can have on any career. While concerns increase that artificial intelligence will take over many jobs; creativity is a skill that machines are still unable to replicate.
I believe this passionately: that we don’t grow into creativity, we grow out of it. Or rather, we get educated out if it. – Ken Robinson (Educator)
This post does not focus on a particular age group but for all those young at heart. There should be a little something for everyone who wants to roll up their sleeves, learn something, or make a thoughtful gift.
Books are a sure way to get those innovative juices flowing. Not only do they help with literacy, but the subject matter and illustrations help form the connections that are vital for creativity. Here are a few interesting reads for young minds.
I received this doll from a dear friend shortly after my daughter was born. She doesn’t understand who Frieda Kahlo is yet; but because she has this doll, she knows how to say her name and plays with her. One day, she’ll want to learn more about her. Perhaps my daughter will appreciate the imagination and feeling inherent in her paintings and use that inspiration in her own life. The fabric artist Kahrianne Kerr also makes dolls after pop culture figures, but she makes a great one of artist Yayoi Kasuma. You can also build your doll out of felt or fabric. Artistic mascots work just as well for adults!
These are some of my favorite art supplies to use for kids. Some of these items may be familiar to families that frequent family artmaking at museums. The items listed below are affordable, flexible, and most importantly, engaging. While working at many intergenerational artmaking programs, I found that adults were deeper immersed in the activity – dedicating more time than most children to their projects.
Twisteez: Brightly colored sculpture and craft wire akin to pipe cleaners, but not as sharp.
Smart-Fab Fabric: A fun alternative to felt that is more elastic and lightweight.
Model Magic: A non-toxic sculpting material that dries within 24-hours and mixes color well.
Making art is not only about painting. Artworks can be composed of sound or found objects. Our ability to remember and learn is heightened by a multisensory approach –involving visual, auditory, and kinesthetic-tactile pathways together. Children stay engaged with an activity if there are various points of entry or different ways of making.
Finger Crayons: Bulbous crayons ideal for the tiniest fingers. They require more movement than regular crayons and are a great way to start learning.
Kinetic Sand: Is a fun, colorful, and less messy approach to sand. Children and adults can build epic sand castles without worrying about gritty hands or finding sand around the house for years.
Sound: When artists like Susan Phillipsz make sound pieces, the focus of the artwork is on the vibrations and experience. The sound is an essential element to many contemporary pieces. Kickstart kids awareness by making them instruments with rubber bands, cans, and cardboard. If you’re feeling less DIY, this set is a great alternative.
*Tip: Try recording the child’s music session and play it back to them.*
Becoming a creative person is directly linked to having new experiences – seeing and experiencing novel ideas, places, objects. A trip to any science, natural history, children, or art museum will give children and their guardians’ food for thought. It may not show immediately, but repeated visits are often the most impactful learning tools. Buying or gifting a museum membership will help spark this curious spirit in the young minds you cherish.
Before I had a child, I was an aunt. I often gifted them presents that were more hands-on rather than an action figure or a video game. There are even more options now for DIY packages that develop children’s motor skills, ingenuity, and logic. Some brands offer subscription boxes, but Seedlings products are my go-to brand when it comes to interactive gifts. In gifting these tinkering gifts, you are also gifting a creative experience.