I’ve agreed to participate in a sponsored campaign with Wonder Workshop because I love the premise of their products – Kids can do amazing things when they are given permission to explore, ask themselves questions, and figure out the answers for themselves. Sometimes they might answer the question “wrong” at first, but isn’t that part of the learning process? More often than not they might find there’s more than one right answer. And surprise themselves, and you, in the process.
I love how this video talks about kids using their own resources to solve problems through creative play. “Sometimes…we get to do things on our own….We don’t need to ask for help. We can do it ourselves.” This is exactly the confidence and initiative I want my children to develop. I would rather have kids who try to solve a problem, than sit and whine about it. So here are some of my favorite ways to encourage my kids to independent and creative, exploration-filled play.
Provide Materials for Creative Play
My kids are natural explorers and builders and we give them plenty of time to do so. I remember when my husband was building me a strawberry planter from whiskey barrels and my kids used all the scrap pieces to build all sorts of creations. Brianna had taken all the extra metal pieces and built this really cool metal sculpture type piece.
By giving her the materials she was able to try something fun and new. When kids have easy access to a variety of materials for creative play, their imagination will kick in before you know it!
Allow Them to Fail
Vivian has always been a go-getter, pushing her limits to keep up with her siblings. Walking by 9 months old, I have a video of her jumping on the trampoline at 11 months old and we had to remove her crib by 14 months because she was pushing it to the upright grand piano and climbing the six foot structure all the way to top. Mercy! So with this extreme independence has come more than a fair share of miniature failures and bumps and bruises.
One of the hardest things as a parent is to sometimes NOT help them. It seems counter-intuitive but is so important for giving kids the freedom they need. In this photo, Vivian was hammering together blocks of wood to make swords like the ones her brothers had made. Note the tear-tracks on her cheeks. She’d already hit her thumb twice but refused to give up and eventually (with a teeny bit of muscle borrowed from her brother) made her own. Her own. Worth every moment of thumb-smooshy-ness.
Give a Judgement-Free Space for Play
Let’s face it – sometimes our kids don’t do things our way. That doesn’t necessarily mean they are doing it the wrong way. Just a different way. A way I probably wouldn’t. For example I probably wouldn’t play the guitar while wearing a glittery Zoro mask but that didn’t stop my middle-man.
Part of what makes him so special is that he’s not afraid to express the things that he likes, even if it’s not what other people might do. And that is totally ok. I love open-ended toys that are “judgment free” and give room for kids to try something NOT in the step-by-step how-to instructions.
This is why I’m really excited about Wonder Workshop‘s Dash and Dot toys. I think their open-ended play ability will really encourage this type of critical thinking and independent reasoning skills in my kids. And if they get to learn cool technological concepts at the same time that’s a win/win.
How do you encourage wonder-filled and imaginative play in your children?
This post was sponsored by Wonder Maker and I can’t wait to show you more about the awesome things they are doing to stretch children’s wonder-filled play! All photos and opinions and crazy, stubborn, glitter-masked kids are 100% my own.