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Family Activities
Creativity Exercises

Nurturing your child’s imagination does not take lots of expensive toys or planned and costly activities. With just a few simple items and your child’s imagination, you can create worlds of fun that last many hours. Here are just a few activities you can use.

“Let’s Make Music”

There are many musical instruments you can make that will allow young children to explore sounds and rhythm and create their own music.

  • Horn or Kazoo—
    Wrap a piece of waxed paper around one end of an empty toilet paper tube or aluminum foil or paper towel tube cut in half. Secure it tightly and smoothly with a rubber band. Punch holes along one side of the tube with a screwdriver. Hum or sing a song into the open end of the tube.
  • Guitar—
    Stretch several rubber bands of different sizes lengthwise around the top of a shoebox. Tape a stick securely to one end of the box to act as the arm of the guitar. Strum or pluck the rubber bands. Because the rubber bands are different sizes and will be more or less taut, you can make different “notes.”
  • Drum—
    Remove the bottom and top of a coffee can. Stretch a balloon tautly over each end. Secure each balloon securely in place with rubber bands. Use pencils as drumsticks. Beat the balloon ends for one sound; beat the sides of the container for another.
  • Maraca—
    Pour rice or dried beans inside a paper plate. Place another paper plate face down on top of it. Staple the plates together securely, leaving a small space to insert a ruler or stick to make a handle. Tape around the stick to make sure it’s secure. Shake the maraca to the beat.
  • Xylophone—
    Fill several small juice glasses with water at different levels, from one-quarter filled to completely filled. Put a drop of different-colored food coloring in each, mixing some colors to make purple or orange, or using more color to make deeper red or pink. Use a spoon to gently tap each glass—the different amounts of water will produce different sounds. Children can use the colors to write down their music.

Let your child’s imagination run wild decorating these instruments with markers, sequins, feathers, and craft paper. Or, have them improvise their own musical instruments with safe items from the kitchen or tool kit. Your home will be filled with creative sounds.

Building Blocks Note: Your child can make and record wonderful music in the Building Blocks Recording Studio.”

“Let’s Play Pretend”

Pretending, role-playing, and acting help children imagine themselves as different people, different things, or in different situations. This pretending can help them explore their own feelings, handle emotions, or begin to see what others may feel.

  • Animals
    Ask your child to show you what it would be like if he or she were a big animal like a lion or bear; or, a small animal like a mouse or a fish; or, an insect like a bee or an ant. How do each of the animals act and feel different? How did pretending make your child feel?
  • Nature
    How does it feel to be a raindrop or a snowflake? Have your children show you what happens to them as they fall from the clouds or hit the earth or an umbrella. What about after the rain is over or the snow melts?
    Or, what would it be like to be a flower in the spring or a leaf in the fall? How did it make your child feel to grow and change?
  • Family Events
    Taking on new roles can help your child understand the family better. How would it be if they were the father, the mother, or the baby sister?
    Or, what is it like to visit the doctor, go to daycare or go shopping?
  • What Am I?
    Without any words or sounds, children can pretend to be anything—a car, an airplane, a toaster. Can you guess what they are and what they’re doing—a construction crane with a heavy load, a mail truck stopping all around the neighborhood, a television changing channels? Let your child take the lead, but offer suggestions if he or she needs some ideas to get started.

Pretending can be a solitary activity with imaginary friends or dolls or stuffed animals. Or, it can be a group event where you take on the roles your child assigns you. It’s a very good experience to “be” the child as your child acts as the parent. You might see yourself in a whole new light.

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Updated on 4/5/2013