Children are naturally creative. While creativity takes many forms in childhood and frankly throughout all of life, we have to recognize that each of us possesses the innate ability to create.
In early childhood we may see a group of children build a tower over and over and it will look different every single time.
In my classroom, I can put out only two colors of paint, a few paint brushes, and plain white paper on the table and no two finished masterpieces will look anything alike after 4 children have had their turn creating.
A concept that goes hand in hand with creativity is imagination. Whether children are building with blocks, painting, playing outdoors, or practically any other activity, we can usually witness their imaginations fully at work. Offering loose parts such as recyclables, and materials from nature are a perfect way to watch a child's imagination unfold in front of you. A few round stones can be shells on a beach, cookies fresh from the oven or some change at the corner store. A small cardboard box can be a package on your doorstep, a boat in the ocean of the sand table, or a box of donuts. The possibilities are endless. I have seen children play the part of doctor, patient, veterinarian, and even ambulance driver with a toy stethoscope, blood pressure cuff and an empty aspirin container.
So we know children are naturally creative and imaginative. But children are also naturally curious.
Ask any parent or caregiver of a typically developing 3-year old to record how many questions they are asked in a 24 hour time period. It wouldn't be unusual if it passed the 100 mark! Invite a child to lift up some rocks outside and tell you what they find, Place a magnifying glass next to some leaves or flowers you've collected with no instructions at all to see natural curiosity in effect.
When adults ask open-ended questions we help expand children's thinking and help them explore this natural curiosity. We are also nurturing children's sense of wonder and imagination. Young children learn best when they are actively involved in what they are doing. Active participation engages learners and helps them retain the information. As I have mentioned in the past, children do not need to be taught to use imagination or creativity. But with all the use of screens and media in today's world, sometimes it does need to be encouraged.
I recently discovered a new book that has now climbed its way onto my list of favorite picture books for children.
It was published in 2019 and it is simply lovely. Here is a reading of it: