Creativity is about expressing ourselves. It is about trying new things and new ways of being - and being imaginative and original.
It is sometimes thought that only certain people are 'creative', and that to be creative you need to have an unusual talent. This is not true - each one of us is capable of expressing ourselves creatively in some way.
It is also thought that creativity is limited to the 'arts' - for example, music, drama, painting, craft, dance, writing, etc. But these artistic areas are not the only ways we can express creativity. Creativity is a way of thinking and being which can be expressed in many areas of life, for example, science, business, maths and cooking.
Creativity is the ability to challenge, question and explore. It involves taking risks, playing with ideas, keeping an open mind and making connections where none are obvious.
Victoria and Albert Museum of Childhood
Creativity has been defined as having four characteristics:
Some people may make a more obvious difference to the world than others through the products of their creativity (like great actors, cooks, writers or scientists). But the benefits of creativity are often more about the process, rather than the actual product. The creative process is useful for: developing confidence in ourselves; developing good relationships with those with whom we are being creative; finding out what our talents and strengths are and increasing our positive emotion. In short, the creative process helps us flourish by teaching us about who we are, what we love and what we can give to the world.
With children and young people, it is particularly useful for us to focus on the importance of the creative process as opposed to the outcome. The important bit is the process of writing a story or coming up with an invention or creating a picture, etc. The outcome of a creative project is less important, although, of course, it may be very worthwhile!
Why should we all use our creative power? Because there is nothing that makes people so generous, joyful, lively, bold and compassionate.
Being involved in creative activities is fun and absorbing for children and young people. Evidence suggests that it helps them have positive experiences and develop important characteristics and abilities such as:
These characteristics and abilities have been shown to lead to the following important aspects of flourishing:
Where words fail, music speaks.
Hans Christian Anderson
A number of studies have outlined specific benefits of music for babies’, children’s and young people’s wellbeing. For example:
We can encourage children to be creative through messy play. Messy play, (e.g. sand pits, paddling pools, finger paint) has been found to be very beneficial for babies and young children’s development. In particular it helps to develop concentration and problem-solving, conversation skills, curiosity in the world, imagination and cooperation.
Play is our brain's favourite way of learning.
Messy play does not usually have a focus on making something. This leaves the child free to explore all possibilities and enjoy the creative process. It is important for us to watch and listen to the child’s explorations and inventions as this promotes a sense of security. It also gives them greater confidence to take risks if they know we are nearby.
Case study - Creativity in Scottish schools
Creativity Counts was a project aimed at supporting and fostering the development of creativity in classrooms in Scotland. The report, Portraits of Practice, describes 18 projects in schools across Scotland, giving details of the ages of children and aims of the project; how the project was organised and what happened; reflections on how creativity was encouraged; and the benefits of creativity found.
Examples of projects included: ‘Our Ideal School’ where children collaborated to think about, plan and build a 3D model of their ideal school, and ‘The Cool Project’ where children were encouraged to think about healthy eating and create an exciting and original healthy ice cream.
Some of the benefits of the projects were:
Learning and Teaching Scotland & the IDES Network (2004). Creativity Counts - Portraits of Practice. Glasgow: Learning and Teaching Scotland.
The world is but a canvas to our imaginations.
To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong.
Joseph Chilton Pearce
Here are some resources and activities to help children and young people get creative:
BBC feature about the benefits of creativity, with ideas for arts and crafts:
Ideas for drama games:
Ideas to promote creativity in the classroom:
Ask children thought-provoking questions to help them to think creatively, for example:
Ask ‘how many different ways’ questions. For example "how many ways can a button/paper cup/piece of plasticine be used?" Then hand round the object to help the children come up with ideas.
Invent a machine
Invent the machine that your family, class or group (and probably many other people) have always needed! ‘Dragon’s Den’ here we come!
What you need:
What you do:
Some things to talk about together: