Virtual Classes and Interactive Digital learning is amazing and we’ve relished providing it, but there is also something very special that sprouts from a word we’re often scared of: Boredom! I remember, as an only child, my kindergarten teacher told my parents “Well, Brittny is very good at entertaining herself.” and I attribute that to two things: My overactive imagination and my parents allowing me (often out of necessity; thanks for working your butts off mom and dad!) to be bored!
So, how can we plant the seeds of imagination without…
- Taking Over
- Exhausting ourselves entertaining our kids
- Giving in or getting Frustrated at the first “I’m Bored!”?
Here are a few tips to help foster creativity and activate imagination!
Work with your big kid to create an Imagination Tool Box (we call them Supplies in our Art+Adventure Class here at Bubbles). What will you need when you suddenly set off on an adventure:
- A Bag to pack (backpack, reusable grocery bag)
- Paper and crayons or a dry erase board to draw a map, list supplies or draw characters
- Open Ended Supplies to create tools, costumes, set pieces along the way like cardboard tubes, blankets, old t-shirts, blocks or boxes
- A few leading questions like “Who will you meet?” “Is thre anything we should watch out for like booby traps?” “How will we get there?”
- A Bowl for Potion making perhaps? A Few loveys to act as sidekicks?
And that’s about it, your surroundings and imagination will provide you everything else along your journey!
As we build our imaginations it also means we’re stretching our understanding of the concrete world and fostering more flexibility in our thinking: “But that spoon is just a spoon!” “Oh wait, this spoon is a microphone… and a sword… and a magic wand… and… and…”
For our younger pals, they may need a jumping off point for their imaginary stories. Consider giving them (and you) an easy jumping off point like:
- Assigning a magic object (like a sock, clementine, shoe missing its pair, a feather, or button) and that becomes the inspiration for the story! You can place a few things in a “story spot” and they can jump in whenever they please!
- Make story stones/blocks/pictures that can be pulled out of a bowl featuring animals, settings or elements (rain, fire, snow, puddles) to help weave a story together one stone at a time (Pinterest has some great ideas for these too!)
- Write your kids a note from someone who needs help like a favorite stuffed animal or from their favorite superhero who needs their assistance.
- Give them a few silly clues throughout the day… my mom would always tell me there was a cow hiding in the house when I was little, I mostly knew that there wasn’t, but the search was always exciting!
- Or simply challenge them to create a story for themselves, that is their own, and if they’d like, be ready to be a captive audience later on in the day. Maybe even schedule a “showtime”, “re-telling of the story” or “movie opening” that can be a few hours from the time the day starts. Set up chairs, pop popcorn and see what they create!
Even as an improviser, entertainer and teacher, I still ALWAYS love the ideas that kids come up with SO much more than my own. I love to think in fantastically over the top terms when telling stories with kids, but they always remind me that even the simplest tasks (cooking a meal for a witch, riding in a dump truck, or taking a walk) can be the start to an amazing story.
Some favorite books of ours that inspire creativity and flexible thinking include:
Beautiful Oops by Barney Saltzburg
Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson
Brittny, a silly Southern native of Midway, Kentucky, is celebrating eight years as a teaching artist with Bubbles Academy! Combining her musical theatre, improvisation and children’s performance experience with her years of after-school enrichment programming, Bubbles has been the most magical place to grow Brittny’s love of teaching and inspiring young artists.
As Program Director, Brittny develops curriculum, facilitates training and leads the Movement, Art+Music & Preparing for Preschool Teams here at Bubbles. She can be found most often, ukulele and boomwhacker in hand, as the Lead Teacher for the Older Two’s Preschool Program, as well as the Preparing for Preschool Program. When she’s not making kid-magic in the classroom, you can also catch miss Brittny weaving musically improvised fairytales with Storytown Improv!
With a Bachelor’s of Arts in Theatre & Gender Studies, Brittny also received her Early Childhood Lead Teacher qualification from Truman College. As an early childhood educator, especially through our unique approach to arts-integrated programming, she cherishes every opportunity to foster creativity, bolster resilience, and boost a child’s sense of self. Brittny strives to live out this always-applicable Shel Silverstein phrase, “Put something silly in the world!”