Here at The Play Well Trust we are absolutely passionate about the benefits of creative activities for children and families.
Creativity is valuable to us all. It increases happiness, improves mental health, lowers stress levels and boosts the immune system. Drawing, painting and creative arts and crafts also offer children a way to express themselves and work through thoughts and feelings.
We have put together some examples of activities that you can use at home, but any creative endeavour, be it singing, dancing, baking, sewing, writing or drawing all have a positive impact upon us, so what are you waiting for? Let's Get Creative!
Playing with play dough is such a simple thing to do and yet this humble material is extremely versatile for play and learning.
Play dough is great for:
Imaginative role play
Building scenes and playing with small world figures
Making prints and tracks with toys and natural objects
This is a recipe from a relative of mine who is an early year’s expert. She runs a Facebook page called Early Years Ninja, so if you have little ones why not pop over and see what she is up to.
Play Dough Recipe:
2 cups of plain flour
1 cup of salt
2 tablespoons of oil
1 teaspoon of cream of tartar
1-2 cups of boiling water
Food colouring and your choice of food flavouring if you wish.
Add all of the dry ingredients to a bowl and mix. Add the food colouring (and flavouring) to the water and slowly add it to the mixture. Stir together to make the perfect play dough!
For extra sensory play fun, you could add biodegradable glitter or dried lavender/ herbs/ oats whatever you would like.
Store your play dough in an airtight container. When you have finished with this play dough you can compost it, break it up into small pieces and it should disappear in no time.
Painting in all its wonderful forms is so much fun for children and adults, whether its handprints and finger painting or bubble prints and mark making, paint is a very versatile, creative medium.
Marble painting is easy and amazingly effective.
You will need:
Masking tape or a cardboard frame to hold your paper in place
A tray or box to put the paper in, to stop the marbles from rolling away!
A bowl to tip the painty marbles into afterwards
Put a sheet of paper in your box or tray and secure it with tape or a cardboard frame
Choose your paints and squirt small blobs onto the paper
Tip your marbles onto the paper and roll them in the paint, watch as they make patterns and mix all of the colours together.
Keep rolling them until you are happy with your picture and then tip them into a bowl.
Carefully remove your paper from the tray and let your paint dry.
Wash and dry your marbles and start all over again!
Click on the video link to see one we made earlier.
Here at The Play Well Trust, we often talk about the benefits of puppet play for children and families. Having worked with children and families for over 20 years, Sarah, our founder, has successfully used puppets with many children, for many reasons. She even ran “Puppet Club” with Selina, our advisory Play Therapist.
Puppets enable children to talk about difficult feelings, to explore different responses and to remove themselves from tough situations so that they can begin to work through them. The added joy of creating their own personalised puppet brings even more benefit.
Enable children and adults to talk about difficult feelings more easily, by referring to their puppet rather than themselves.
Develop language skills
Develop imaginative play
Encourage motor skills
There are so many ways to make puppets; you can buy kits from companies like Baker Ross, you can use socks or gloves, or you can make one from a paper bag or just a sheet of A4 paper. See the Youtube video for a tutorial on paper puppets.
There is something incredibly therapeutic about weaving, especially when using natural materials such as wool. Weaving is quite simple to do and even young children can pick it up fairly quickly.
This circular weaving is often taught within Stiener education alongside other crafts such as knitting and felt making. In an article on the relevance of Steiner handwork for children, it states that “this long, rhythmic process of development continues from early childhood into adulthood and on throughout life - a human being is in fact never complete, finished, as it were, with his or her development. A human being is continuously in the process of becoming.”
When children and adults are involved in such absorbing, creative activities, it enables them time and space to just be, to escape reality and truly enjoy being the moment.
Although circular weaving looks complicated, once you get the hang of it, it’s quite simple. Watch the fabulous Cassie Stevenz series of videos on YouTube to learn how to make your own paper plate circular weaving.
Many children absolutely adore role play, whether they are dressed as a fairy, a tiger, a racing car driver or playing at being a grown up in a real life situation, children use role play to make sense of the world around them.
Often you can learn a great deal about children’s understanding of the world by watching and listening to them role play situations. You can also learn a great deal about yourself, as they often mimic the behaviours of the adults they see around them… sometimes this can be challenging for us!
If your child invites you to join in, why not take the opportunity to let them be in charge. Follow their lead and enjoy the playful joy, dress up, eat that imaginary cake (it has NO calories!) and remember what it felt like to be a child.
Role play can:
Enable children to make sense of the world around them
Allow children space to work through difficult thoughts and feelings
Encourage language development
Help them to solve problems
Be the best fun EVER!