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8 Ways To Support Your Toddler's Creativity

Encourage creativity through active play and interactive experiences.

23/01/2017 09:48 | Updated 24 January 2017
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We need to think creatively all our lives, and the foundations of this creativity are laid down in our early years. Help your toddler express their own sparks of fresh ideas with our list of activities that stretch their imagination and capabilities.

Symbolic play

When your toddler starts to use things to represent other things – a spoon as a wand, for example, they are starting to use their imagination and play symbolically. Symbolic play encourages your toddler to use their imagination and establish their creativity, language and social skills. Research shows that certain playthings at home, as simple as wooden blocks, can help with symbolic play.

Here’s another fun way to engage in symbolic play with your toddler. Find a big cardboard box (ask for one at an appliance shop). Simply place it in the middle of the room and let your toddler decide what it is. You might need to use the scissors to make windows for your toddler or turn it into a boat if that’s what they want, but let them decide what to turn the box into.

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Singing

Constant exposure to talking, reading and singing are great for helping your little one’s language skills in the early years which means songs that you sing over and over again can be both fun and educational. To encourage creativity, sing cumulative songs – ones that are added to with each verse, such as The Twelve Days of Christmas. Have fun encouraging your child to add ferrets, aardvarks and porpoises (and any other animals they can think of) to Old Macdonald Had A Farm, for example.

Dancing

Moving to music together is a great way to coax out your toddler’s creativity and imagination. As well as dancing round the room to songs on the radio, choose pieces of music that tell a story or paint a picture in sound. Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf and Saint-Saëns Carnival of the Animals are fantastic descriptive orchestral pieces that will have your toddler slinking along like a wolf, marching like a lion, floating like a swan and lumbering like an elephant. You won’t be able to resist joining in too.

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Dressing up

Dressing up and role-playing helps your toddler to express their creativity, so make sure you have a box with lots of options. Costumes needn’t be expensive – scour charity shops for second hand ones, interesting hats and accessories. If your toddler wants to spend the day as a warrior space princess, go with it.

Drama

Making up and acting out stories and mimes with your toddler works out their creativity, especially if you introduce some challenges and situations into your dramas. Perhaps the toy car suddenly won’t start, or teddy has gone missing… They will learn valuable problem-solving skills by thinking creatively. Look out for local theatre groups putting on interactive performances for young children too – these will introduce your toddler to the creative magic of theatre.  

Reading together

Snuggling down and reading stories, especially ones with repetitive text is a brilliant activity to enjoy together. It’s even more rewarding when you get your toddler to interact with the words and pictures. Stretch their imagination by asking what they think happens next, or what could happen if something in the story was different. Ask them to make up a different ending, or add another character.

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Art

Art is a great way for your toddler to have more creativity in their day-to-day life, whether they finger paint, scribble with crayons, model with clay, stick things with glue or tear up pieces of paper and card. Creative art play introduces toddlers to new textures, how materials behave, and encourages fine motor skills. Art galleries and exhibitions, even small local ones, are great places to take your fledgling O’Keeffe. Get your toddler to choose their favourite picture in the gallery, move up close to it and ask them to tell a story about it, prompting them with questions. Then try to continue their story with a different picture. You’ll be drawing out their appreciation of art at a very early age.

Independent play

While it’s lovely to play with your toddler, it’s also important to give them space alone to self-direct their play, find things out for themselves and use their creativity and imagination. It’s normal for toddlers under two to play alone, even with another child in the room. You’ll find they’ll play, sing, talk and even dance happily by themselves, creating a world of their own which they’ll share with you when they’re ready.

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