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Encouraging Creativity in Children

Peter Carnavas, an Australian author and illustrator of children’s books, came to our school and gave us a very insightful talk on encouraging children’s creativity. These are some of the highlights from his talk.

The Dot by Peter ReynoldsEncouraging Creativity in Children

The Dot is a terrific book about the journey of self-discovery that we can all identify with. When it comes to stepping out of our comfort zone and doing something we’re not familiar with, many of us would rather do nothing than give it a go. The Dot encourages us to start just by making a mark.

It’s a powerful lesson of beginnings because you can’t get anywhere if you’re never willing to make the first mark.

Encouraging Creativity in Children

1. Draw a picture with your eyes closed.

One of the ways to overcome our inhibitions is to take away performance anxiety. By drawing a picture with our eyes closed, we immediately remove the pressure of drawing well because none of us expect to draw well with our eyes closed.

2. Draw with your non-dominant hand.

Similar to drawing with your eyes closed, drawing with our non-dominant hand removes the anxiety of having to produce a good drawing. The other reason for using your non-dominant hand is that it increases creativity.

“If creativity is located in your non-dominant hemisphere, then using your non-dominant hand may stimulate those cells.” – Jill Bolte Taylor, Ph.D., a neuroanatomist with the Indiana University School of Medicine.

Because brain mapping shows that creativity is housed in the right hemisphere of our brains, experts say we can stimulate this right brain through working with our “wrong” hand. This also works for lefties, as studies indicate that one hemisphere is active when we use our dominant hand, but both hemispheres are activated when we use our non-dominant hand. – NWI The Times

3. Word Games

  • Anagrams with your child’s name – e.g. “Tom Marvolo Riddle” = “I am Lord Voldemort”
  • One word at a time – play a game where everyone takes turns to add one word at a time to make up a story.
  • Mix and Match descriptive words with characters:
    • Descriptives: lonely, naughty, rebellious, incomplete, brave, bad-tempered, malfunctioning, shy, sneaky, clever, cheeky, old-fashioned, clumsy, evil, well-mannered, strict, nervous, friendly, talkative, goofy.
    • Characters: fairy, skateboarder, teacher, detective, superhero, pirate, explorer, schoolkid, orphan, inventor, slave, elephant, monster, ninja, alien, teenager, robot.
  • Imagine if: (continue the story)
    • you had to escape from…
    • you accidentally superglued their head to…
    • you got stuck in a…

4. Mr Squiggle

Taking a leaf out of Mr Squiggle’s book – make some marks on a piece of paper and ask your child to complete the picture.

5. Give your children time to:

  • be bored
  • daydream
  • wander
  • read together aloud
  • read anywhere
  • do things that don’t matter

Most importantly – model creativity.

6. Advice from Kurt Vonnegut

Kurt Vonnegut wrote the following letter to Xavier High School:

Encouraging Creativity in Children
Image Source: Letters of Note


Published by Shen-Li

SHEN-LI LEE is the author of “Brainchild: Secrets to Unlocking Your Child’s Potential”. She is also the founder of (a website on parenting, education, child development) and (a website on Right Brain Education, cognitive development, and maximising potentials). In her spare time, she blogs on Forty, Fit & Fed, and Back to Basics.

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