Children at the preschool age love to play pretend, fantasize, experiment and explore new things. A preschooler has incredible creative drive that ignites their desire to learn about all sorts of subjects. This makes it the perfect time to support the development of creative thinking!
At this age, parents and educators should build upon divergent thinking, in which children come up with unique solutions and make new connections without being tied to a singular, “right” way of doing things, known as convergent thinking.
- Play word games that require imagination. Get preschoolers talking by starting with a silly question, such as, “How would you build a house on Mars?” Or, ask children to come up with new uses for a classroom item like a bucket. Enjoy the fun and crazy answers!
- Encourage brainstorming when faced with a question or problem. Value the varying opinions and ideas from your preschoolers, saying “Let’s try it” or “That is one way of looking at it” rather than dismissing answers altogether.
- Provide a space for unrestrained, messy creativity. Allow preschoolers to explore a wide range of art materials however they want, including paint, markers, glue, cardboard, paper, clay and more, along with recycled and natural materials.
- Promote inventive storytelling, inviting children to create drawings, plays, songs and music that go along with the stories he or she tells. Or, ask them to create a twist on an existing story: What if Little Red Riding Hood had never encountered the Big Bad Wolf?
- Bring a large cardboard box into the classroom (or several smaller ones) and leave it up to your preschoolers to decide what it will become. Is it a house, a spaceship, or a cave? Provide art materials to decorate the box and assist with cutting holes for doors and windows if necessary.
- Ask your classroom to create new rules for a well-known board game like snakes and ladders. Write down these new rules and play a round of the game, sticking to them. What rules worked? What rules need to be changed to make the game more playable?
- Make up a new game entirely. Using objects from other games like balls, bowling pins, foam bats and more, design a completely new game with your own rules. Be flexible with the rules, which can change as play goes on.
- Keep open-ended toys in your preschool. Building blocks, LEGO, modelling clay, foam shapes and other materials allow children to create their very own scenarios each and every time they play. Unlike some toys on the market, children are not directed how to use these toys, providing an opportunity for them to strengthen their creativity.
Want more creative activities for preschoolers? Check out our comprehensive list of resources for parents and educators to discover even more ways to encourage creativity in children!