Kids need open-ended creative activities. All too often, kids are presented with artistic endeavors that have one "acceptable" result. "Cookie-cutter" art projects have their place, as they teach children to follow directions and work towards a specific result. However, many children end up feeling lost when asked to use their own creativity.
I want our children to be big believers in their own ideas. I am working to raise "outside of the box" thinkers who are confident in their creativity. A "What Is It" drawing allows children to express their unique point of view.
With just a few minutes, a piece of paper, and some crayons, you can help your child employ critical thinking in a fun and creative way.
1. Draw a shape or line segment on a piece of paper. Anything goes. Use a traditional shape or draw something unique.
I like to vary my shape placement, instead of always drawing the shape in the center of the page. Unexpected placement helps your children think about the picture in a creative way, and opens their minds to an array of possibilities.
2. Give the paper to your children. Ask them to finish the picture. Explain that they can turn the paper in any direction to finish the picture. There are no wrong answers.
For example, I used this activity with my two older children (8 & 6) this morning. For their first "What Is It?" drawing, I drew a hexagon for my son and a swirl for my daughter. The hexagon became Mickey Mouse's head, and the swirl became a large lollipop. For the second drawing, I drew the same shape, an off-center triangle, for both children. One child drew a monster, while the other drew a candy corn forest. One object -- endless possibilities.
Some parents may find that they need to do an example for their children in order to explain the concept. If you choose to do an example, make sure to use a different shape or line segment than the one you provided your kids.
3. Extend the Activity (Optional) To extend this activity, use your child's drawing as a springboard for writing. Encourage your children to write about their pictures. For some children, this may mean simply labeling their pictures. Others may write one or two sentences. Older children may be able to write a story about their pictures.
I love watching my children consider their possibilities and use their imaginations. "What Is It" drawings are such an easy way to get their minds working in a creative way. I encourage you to try this simple activity with your children this week, and watch their creativity unfold.