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{Raising Tots} How to Encourage Creative Play

Raising Toddlers- parenting advice

This week on {Raising Tots} we welcome Varya from Little Artists! She shares her tips on encouraging creative play.

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For a growing toddler the world changes literally every hour and every day: there is so much he learns and discovers that it can at times be overwhelming and constant mood swings can put some stress on parents and caretakers. Very few toddlers are calm and self-absorbed – usually hearing the word “toddler” is associated with a little person always on a go, making mess over and over again while giggling, and throwing occasional fits due to being unable to communicate well verbally. All of these are signs that there are hidden abilities in your child that you need to take a close look to. If your child likes to knock down things – he is not doing it to annoy you, he is exploring! If your child grabs a toy and starts banging it on different objects – he is merely listening to the sound that banging makes. As a parents or an educator you have a power to redirect your child’s curiosity by encouraging creative play.

Creative play is a way to help your tot to express him/herself and also it is a great way to learn about those seeds of talents planted in him.

How to encourage creative play in home setting?

1. Use real life objects, safe for your tot. They can be kitchen non-breakable and not sharp utensils, various tupperware/plastic containers, kitchen towels, plastic cookie cutters. Your child can be engaged for a long time with stacking, pretending to mix and simply banging on different pots. Yes, it can get noisy but it’s a part of life!

Creative Play2. Sensory bins: use different grains, beans, toys etc in tubs and containers, drop some objects inside and let the child explore. It is best done in the kitchen or in the area where it will be easy to clean up. This activity has to be supervised as children like to stuff their mouths, noses and ears with small objects.
Creative Play3. Building blocks. These are great and they are our all time favorite! I am yet to meet a child who hasn’t enjoyed playing with blocks.
Creative Play4. Finger painting and painting in general. While there are children who dislike getting dirty or dip their fingers in paint and such, in general finger painting/painting is a  great way for the child to learn colors, textures and of course, express himself in a creative way!
Creative Play5. Play dough. If you search online – there are tons of blogs and sites offering simple and easy play dough recipes, cook and no cook, for making play dough. Play dough gives the child a HUGE room for creativity, allows unwind all the unexpressed feelings and helps develop fine motor skills. You can let your own imagination run wild when thinking of all the possible tools to be used with play dough, additional scents and materials to add in order to encourage sensory development.
Creative Play6. Sand play. One of the greatest activities. We don’t have a sand box in our compound so we go to the local beach just to let our daughter play in the sand. Sand play promotes creativity, helps both children and adults express their unresolved feelings and emotions and it is also good for physical development.
Creative PlayI can go on and on about various ways to encourage creative play: water play, cooking, singing and dancing, playing dressing up, making crafts and art, coloring, drawing, playing with cars and dolls, exploring nature, cutting, glueing – you name it! The most important is to have a desire to do this together with your child, to make time. Creative play in toddlerhood is not done by the tot himself and it is not a way to keep the child out of your hair. It is a way to bond with your child and build your child’s confidence.

There is no right or wrong way to creative play. It is all about having fun!

Varya blogs at Little Artists (littleartists.blog.com) on encouraging creativity in children. She is a mother of 2, an early education expert, perinatal fitness trainer, musician and baby massage instructor. Varya believes that everyone is born with abilities and talents and it is up to us (parents and educators) to find them and nurture them.

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Thank you Varya for these wonderful tips! Make sure to check out Varya’s blog at Little Artists and you can find her on Facebook here. For more tips, advice and activities on Raising Toddlers head to our {Raising Tots} page!

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