Schools often focus on cognitive learning, teaching facts and evaluating the absorption of these facts. Creative thinking, however, leads to future problem-solving and is also an essential part of the learning process. Parents can encourage creative thinking at home through games, to inspire their children to think outside the box.
Paper and Pen Games
"Questions Without Answers" is an activity that asks children questions that have difficult answers. The questions need to be challenging, to inspire creative thinking. Scholastic suggests asking your child, "What if cats could bark?" or "What if it rained every Saturday?" Use this game to open up a discussion or begin journal entries. "Squiggles" is a game using only one squiggled line on a piece of paper. Tell your child to create an image from the squiggle. The game is even more challenging when you assign categories such as animals or common household objects.
Painting while listening to music or letting children drip cornstarch and water mixtures through their fingers inspires creativity. Hand your child a paintbrush and a bowl of paint and let her use an easel. Watch as she drags the brush across the board and lets it drip down the paper. Mention her creativity to inspire her to paint more. A creative game is "Circles." Give your child a worksheet of circles and ask her to fill in each circle in any manner. Some might become faces while others become suns. Ask her to cut out the circles, then create stories with the circular objects. For example, the smiling face might be happy because the sun is allowing him to eat ice cream.
Play "Loose Ends" with your child and a few of his friends. Find an area, such as a jungle gym, to hang two pieces of string which hang parallel. The strings will be close enough to be tied together but far enough away so that someone holding one string will not be able to reach the other string. The kids will need to work together and figure out how to tie the strings together. "Chicken, Rice and Dog" is a creative thinking game where teams need to figure out how to move three items across a river. A boat only holds one person and one item. How will the team move a chicken, a dog and rice across the river, when the dog will eat the chicken and the chicken will eat the rice?
Certain forms of writing involve creative thinking. Appropriate for older children, "Tom Swifty" involves listing words then asking your child to come up with a Tom Swifty associated with one of the words. A Tom Swifty is a quoted sentence linked by a pun to which it is attributed. CreativityGames.net provides this example: "'I have a split personality' said Tom being frank." Alternatively, create haikus. A haiku is a poem consisting of three lines to communicate a story. The first line includes five syllables, the second seven, the third five. Present your child with three words that must be included in the haiku.