Getting Started:

Ideas for celebrating National Keep Kids Creative Week

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Getting Started

Okay, so you want to help your kids continue to be creative. That's a big first step right there. Because you recognize your child's ability to "think outside the box", you're already on the right track. So how do you help them? Let me give you some ideas. These come out of my working with kids in making up stories, but they can be applied to any creative problem solving.

Make time
It's not easy, I know. But it doesn't have to be hours. Just take the time before or after your dinner. Or take a part of Sunday afternoon, or Saturday morning. You could even get creative while driving your kids somewhere.

Other pages about
Keep Kids Creative Week

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• Getting Started
Building a Mental Library
Be Creative!

Take the lead
Kids need adults to set the tone, to let them know that it's okay to be a little off-the-wall with their imaginations. If you are interested, they'll spill their ideas. Just work to make the environment a positive one, where all ideas are celebrated, no matter how odd they are.

Get them up and running
Just because your kids have an active imagination, it doesn't follow that they know how to use it. It's like having a car with a powerful engine; one still needs a road map to get anywhere. So give your kids the road map toward coming up with an original idea. You can do this by building a loose framework that will guide your creative time together, but still leave room for them to come up with their own idea. Here are a couple ways to start your kids making up a story:
Put together random ideas
Like my creative-writing activity The Story Kitchen, brainstorm some ideas for a main character, a villain and a bad guy. Keep each category in a separate pile or bag, then pull one out to determine what your story will be about. You'll still need to decide what your character wants in the story, so you can talk that over or make another pile for that.
• Ask "What if..."
This is the start of many creative efforts, even professional ones. Take a story your kids know and like (or maybe dislike!) and ask, "What if the ending were different?" For instance, what if Goldilocks wasn't a girl? What if she were a football player, or a detective? What if she found three pigs, or elephants or aliens?
Listen attentively
Having a young daughter (as well as teenage boys), I know that kids' stories can get long-winded, but when you show your interest, you do a tremendous amount for your child's confidence in their ideas. Don't worry so much about where the story goes; it doesn't need to make sense. Just listen as they ramble, and ask questions along the way. "Then what happened?" "How did (your character) feel about that?" "Why do you think the bad guy wanted to do that?" If they want to write down their idea, help them to find a shorter, more concise version. Get the heart of the idea down for them to remember. They may want to add more or change it later.
Those are just a few, quick suggestions. You'll find many other ideas for inventing stories as a family, as well as drawing games and ways to help your kids on my site. Start from the list on the Keep Kids Creative Week main page.

all material ©2004 Bruce Van Patter