Average Creativity Time – 15 minutes

My 5-year old son is a crafting maniac. He LOVES to make crafts.  Like many 5 year olds, his vision is bigger than his ability causing him to ask for us to create a working waterfall or toy-invention machine when I simply want to have a few minutes of great coloring or cutting. Coupled with the fact that he hates to wait for glue or paint to dry, we’ve had some trouble finding the right crafts for his heart’s desires.

DSC_0406Last week, we picked up a shrinky dink craft kit and I smiled at the label on the back which read, “Average Creativity Time – 15 minutes”. I felt like they were subtly warning me that this is a great craft that your child will enjoy, but don’t plan on spending the afternoon on it. Or, on a positive note, it’s encouraging to know you can fit in a great craft in 15 minutes before needing to move onto a new activity or obligation.

Sometimes, as a parent I feel like both of these situations (as opposite as they may seem) happen on a regular basis.  You happen to have an afternoon to spend with your children and you are unsure how you are going to fill the time. OR you are trying to squeeze in a little play and fun between events in a busy, schedule-driven day.

Here are a few suggestions to deal with both situations.

1 – When you have a long time slot that you and a child will be spending together, head into the time knowing that you will be moving through several different activities and types of play. Consider brainstorming together at the start of your time together for a list of possible activities you would like to do. Challenge each other to think outside the box for difNanny Service, Grand Rapids, Caregiving, Home Careferent types of play; i.e. active, physical play (playing catch or taking a bike ride) , vs fine motor play (play-doh or legos) vs brain play (board games, card games).

If you are feeling adventurous, place all of the different ideas in a hat and let randomness decide what you want to do next. Or make a brief schedule for yourselves planning out your time.  Consider rotating between physical, fine motor and brain play to avoid keep things interesting.

Sometimes even activities that warn of a 15 minute time frame can easily be enjoyed longer when you allow the child to do as many steps by themselves as possible.  Encourage your young child to do their own cutting or taping instead of quickly finishing for them. Find ways to add to a craft with additional coloring, designing or creating.

We recently DSC_0397 DSC_0398purchased some air dry clay that my son felt was a one-time use item. Instead, we chose to make an item, take a photo and then put the clay away until next time.  Now instead of one dried item and 5 minutes of play, we are going to have a photo book of creations and over 50 minutes of play.


2 – On the other hand there are days that your family is fully scheduled with work, hobbies, sports and family obligations, but your child is craving just a few minutes of time with you doing an activity.

This is when it is so handy to have a supply of simple card games that promise a typical game time of 15-20 minutes or a puzzle that you are confident can be completed in a timely manner.  If doing a craft, it might make sense for Mom or Dad step in with the tricky cutting or coloring parts of a craft to help keep the project moving.

Bracelet mChildcare Services, Part time or Full time, Need a Nannyaking, coloring books, a fun game together on the computer or iPad, shrinky dinks, dot markers and other simple crafts are great ways to have some quality time together. In these instances, I find it important to clarify up front what our time frame is before we are going to have to keep moving to our next event.  Sometimes the oven timer or a phone alarm can help keep everyone on track so they keep on task and are ready to move on when needed.

Whether you have 15 minutes or 150 minutes of time to spend together, you too can enjoy some great “Creativity Time”.



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