Wednesday, November 19

Open-ended and Creative hot right now!
As an educator I understand why the terms Open-ended Play and Creative Play are trending right now.  The younger generation needs help developing and increasing their problem solving skills, improving their self-esteem and creating connections.  These are the skills that will prepare them for a bright future and real-life. In today's age of technology, kids are sometimes missing out on the organic experiences we had as children.  These kids will be able to (and probably already can) spin circles around me when it comes to computers and technology but thinking outside the box is still our generation's strong suit.

Remember when you went to a relative's house as a kid and there weren't any toys (at least good ones) to play with so you would dig through their stuff, create something amazing and have the best day ever?  My kids used to go out in the yard, collect sticks and twigs then run in and out of the house a few times collecting random things to create the latest and greatest Fluefenflogen.  That is what my husband and I call those creations because, quite honestly, we had no idea what they were.  Those experiences cause the brain to grow, develop and make connections in ways that only organic hands-on play can.  They are learning and they don't even know it!
Today's toy developers are catching on to the fact that not only do kids crave that type of open-ended, creative play, but parents love it too because it reminds them of their childhood.  Here are some of my favorites:

~ Creativity for Kids has a line of Creativity Cans that are chalk-full of not only supplies but imagination.  They come in different themes too such as Music, Building, Stories, Art, Motion to help get the fun going. 
~ Fashion Plates....that's right, just like the ones you had as a kid but without the bell bottoms and fringe-lined skirts.

~ Spirographs have made a come back in a big way too.  They are great for those kids who are creative but also hit the mark for those linear thinkers who want order and structure to their creations.

~ Arterro makes a line of unique crafting kits that focus on eco-friendly projects and truly different materials.  Have you ever done Needle Felting?  Super cool.

The unintended benefit of these activities is that they create keepsakes, and provide family bonding opportunities.  Conversations take place that probably wouldn't have while playing a video game.  Parents and children are creating something together and it isn't just another Fluefenflogen.

Written by:  Tammy Richey

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