PLAY! – 8 Cool Ideas For Exercising Your Family Creativity Muscles

Grace's Giraffe drawing
"Giraffe Smelling and Eating a Leaf" ©2011 Grace Tanton-Nuxoll, oil pastel on paper. 8.5"x11"

Looking for ways to pump up the creativity at home and in your family? PLAY MORE!

Here are some of the things we’ve done or created within our family to create a culture of creativity and critical thinking:

1) Create Spaces of Creativity in Unlikely Places

You don’t need a fancy studio to be an artist. Use what you’ve got!

Family in the Kitchen "Studio"
The family in the kitchen "studio".

The Kitchen Studio:: We’ve been working at reorganizing our home. Part of this was attacking the kitchen and learning a bitabout Feng Shui, courtesy of Alyson Stanfield’s “Get Organized” class. We began to move things around and I thought…hmmm….this might be an opportunity to create space within the kitchen for creativity. Clearing the fridge of two years of old phone numbers, expired coupons and “reminders of things to do”, I was left with a shiny open canvas. Now, our fridge isn’t a gallery to hang work done at school – it’s a creative poetry centre.

We had some of those “poetic words” as magnets. If I was in a super creative mode, I would have made them….but that’s something we WILL do.

We created a daily “game” in which everyone is challenged to come up with some kind of word art phrase or statement. You wouldn’t believe what beautiful words and poetry they’ve come up with each day.

The Buddha Board:: In the pile of stuff sitting around the kitchen, mixed in with some old cookbooks, was a Buddha Board that was a Christmas gift to me from Kevin 7 years ago. Since moving from Haliburton to Canmore, it had assumed it’s position and was taken out a little bit, but not a ton. Now, I’ve put it on a small part of the kitchen counter where anyone can come and paint upon it at their whim…and they do!

2) Be Ruthless: Create Dedicated Time for Creativity and Arts Practice

Zero Electronic Time:: Establish a time each week (or more often) where you are together with your family and you can play. Make it a two hour space of undisturbed time. Turn off the tv’s, telephones, video games, electronics, smartphones, sound systems and any other kind of distraction that doesn’t allow you to be present with yourself and your family. You can do a number of rotating things within this timeframe, and try something different every week.


Grace - Proud of Her Drawing
Play, dance, create and BE with all the enthusiasm of a child!

8 Cool Ideas for Stretching your Family Creativity Muscles

  1. READ OUT LOUD – a novel or story. Take a turn doing the reading and the listening. Pick something that has some substance to it. Get everyone to retell the story in their own words.
  2. Get some real PAINT and a canvas. Create a family picture together that you can hang in a place you’ll all see it every day.
  3. Make MUSIC together. Grab the pots and pans or rent some instruments and give them a go – all together and at the same time. Don’t be shy. Listen to each other. You’ll make amazing sounds.
  4. Create a PLAY together that you can do just for the fun of it. Let the kids be the directors, create the story and you….follow their direction.
  5. Create a song together. SING it to each other! You can do this in the car.
  6. DANCE. Turn on some Motown and boogie – even if you don’t have a lick of rhythm in your dancin’ pants, make your living room into a Soul Train!
  7. PLAY Scrabble, Yahtze or Backgammon. Both help that creative thinking brain muscles by playing with patterns.
  8. ACT out your day by grabbing a lamp and making shadow-plays on the wall. Laugh a lot and enjoy it like no one is watching!

Being able to express yourself artistically within a safe environment is a great way to learn and grow at any age. Take a chance. Go one step beyond your comfort zone. If you don’t try, you’ll never know what you’re capable of creating.

Don’t worry…..your family will catch you!


Janice Tanton's Red Coffee Cup cup overflows with it!



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