#4 Top 5 Essentials For...Creative Play with School Aged Children with Thimble and Twig

Welcome back to part four of my Top 5 Essentials, guest blogging series, for details on how you can take part, head to the bottom of this post. In the meantime, I hand over to Jemma at Thimble and Twig.

Jemma is married with 4 children and she blogs at www.thimbleandtwig.com. Thimble and Twig documents the Memories of the busy years with 4 little ones and is just a little space to hoard together pretty things she makes, lists she doesn't want to lose, photos to treasure and memories made. A little bit of everything really! This week Jemma is sharing her top 5 essentials for creative play with school aged children.

Much has been written about the benefit of encouraging toddlers in creative play but once children pass reception age, it is assumed that real learning should take over and that messing around with paints is no longer as important. I am all for the national curriculum upping it's game and becoming more challenging at primary school but it is evident that some of their creative time has been forfeited to make way for increased standards in maths and literacy. I've seen this change in a very visual way through my own children. In reception, my son didn't manage to keep his uniform clean for an entire day, he was always arriving home covered in mud, paint, chalk and once even in food colouring! However, my washing machine is a lot more thankful now he is in year one, his uniform is often pristine when I pick him up from school! But it's a shame that making and creative learning is obviously not featuring as much at school. 

Most people assume that creativity is an innate talent that their children either do or do not have: they often assume that children are either intelligent or creative. But actually, creativity is more of a skill, and because creativity is also essential for science, maths, and even social and emotional intelligence, it's something that can be learnt. Creative people are more flexible and better problem solvers which is why it's such an important skill to be nurtured in children. 

We live in a time of such animated television and toys that children don't always naturally use their creativity when playing. Children no longer need to imagine a stick is a sword in a game or story they've imagined: they can play Star Wars with a light-saber in costumes designed for the specific role they are playing.
So what can we do to help our children develop their creativity? Here are five essential pieces of kit for wonderful times of creative play!

Blankets, pillows and duvets. Children love making dens and hiding places to keep the 'adults out'. Tables make great hiding houses when covered with blankets or tablecloths. It does drive me mad when every cuddly toy and blanket we own ends up downstairs, but they create such lovely games and adventures with these 3 simple props, that it's worth the tidying up afterwards.

Modelling Clay. Whole little worlds can be created with modelling clay. Practical things can be made such as baskets or pen pots and then decorated with acrylic paints, sequins or beads. Or, encourage children to create their own made up animals or lands from the modelling clay. It makes a great prop for creating fairy or elf houses and magical lands. Most clay for children is now air dried, making it super easy to use, but Fimo is still a popular clay as it comes in a variety of colours and hardens in the oven. My children love making and inventing different foods to sell in a pretend shop they make.

A range of colouring pens. This might seem an obvious choice but as children get older, colouring and drawing is still so important for developing creativity, try experimenting by colouring on a variety of surfaces and materials. We have a special set of adult, grown up pens made by Spectrum Noir. They are excellent for shading, come in a very wide variety of colours and can be used for colouring on glass or ceramic too. The children love them because they feel grown up using them and inevitably, enjoy blending and shading them a lot more. 

Pastels. This is another great material for teaching children to experiment with blending and it has such a lovely velvety texture that children love using it. Use it to draw landscapes or fireworks or experiment with drawing more abstract things such as dreams or thoughts and feelings.

The Recycling Box and sticky tape. I often joke that no cardboard box is ever safe in our house! The children are always rooting around in the recycling box to make anything from trains to designing their own innovative machines. They are elated when we have a delivery of something large so that they have a box to play with! Try dumping the recycling box on a table along with old birthday cards, sticky tape, glue and some old fabric - children will create the most wonderful objects out of anything and this will help them develop their creative thinking by trying to work out how to use new objects. One man's junk is often a young child's treasure! There are many other lovely things that are always a bonus in a craft box, washi tape, glitter glue, tissue paper and coloured card seem to be the favourites for my children but more importantly, it's the space for creative play that is often the most needed resource of all. 

Thank Jemma, this is a great list! Do you guys have anything else you would add to the list? Let us know in the comments below. And be sure to go and follow Jemma over on..


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