10 tips for Encouraging Creativity with Kids this Summer

"I'm BORED."

Oh how those words out of my children's mouth in just the first week of summer drive me mad! And then I have to realize...these kids have been taught, entertained, engaged by a teacher in a classroom every day for the past 9 months. Of course they are bored.

So beyond getting them all into a semi routine of chores, piano practice, and reading time, what can you do to get past the summer boredom and encourage creativity with your kids? Well, here are a few ideas...

1. Get out into Nature.
  • take a hike or a walk or simply a trip to the park and point out COLORS, SHAPES, TEXTURES, NEGATIVE SPACES (space between the leaves and branches etc.)
  • collect a bag of rocks, pebbles, leaves, feathers, petals, etc. as you go
  • when you get home, let your children recreate their feelings about the experience using the collected items or simply have fun with them in a more fantastical way.
2. Take a trip to a local Art Museum. (great rainy day activity)
  • peruse the art and have each child find their favorite piece- chat about what they like about it
  • bring a sketchbook along and have the kids copy their favorite work of art
  • make up silly stories to go along with each work of art - Once upon a time...
3. Paint each other's faces and put on a play.

  • buy a set of face paints and go to town. 
  • if you are stuck for ideas, there are plenty to choose from online
4. Make Lego sculptures
  • create scenes like a relief sculpture
  • create statues
  • you could even have them recreate famous works of art in legos
5. Make your own custom stuffed animal/creature
  • Have your child draw a character on a large piece of paper (filling it)
  • Trace around each part of the character adding 1/2" all the way around
  • cut out the pieces you traced
  • Place on a double layer of fabric and cut out each piece
  • Put right sides of fabric together and sew around the edge of each piece, leaving a little hole at least 2" wide in one spot for stuffing later
  • turn right side out and stuff with stuffing
  • hand sew stuffing holes together and then parts together 
  • tack on accessories or draw them on.
6. Go to the library, have your child choose 1 picture book and make a day for it. 
  • Create a whole day centered around that picture book
  • then have your child choose their favorite scene from the book and copy it
  • OR have your child continue the story or create their own sequel to the the book, creating the words AND the illustrations for it. 
7. Create clay or playdough self portraits including things you like to do.

8. Attend a summer community art class or camp or summer art festivals.

9. Print out the Printables from the link above and let your kids go to work
  • coloring pages
  • how to draw pages
10. Conclude the summer month or months of creativity with an ART SHOW.
  • Set aside a night for an art show for your children's work at home or at a local public building or church.
  • Have your children create invitations for the event and invite family and friends
  • As everyone to dress up to make it more sophisticated and fancy
  • Buy cheap frames from ikea or local thrift store to frame or display art
  • have your children be prepared to talk about their art to the attendees
  • make sure to have refreshments at the event
And there you have it! I can't guarantee that your kids won't still say, "I'm BORED." That just seems to be ingrained in nearly every child to annoy their parents with. However, I can promise it will be said LESS often. 

To give you a jump start on this list (number 8 specifically), I can refer you a great free event being held tomorrow in Salt Lake City, Utah. KSL's family book festival. I'll be signing books there from 1pm til at least 2pm. Hope to see you!

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I'm a freelance illustrator working in the children's book industry. I love kids and raising my own 4 children. They are the inspiration and the passion behind all I do in art and in life. See my website at JulieOlsonbooks.com

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