Encouraging a Sense of Play Builds Creativity Skills for Life
April 4, 2011 5 Comments
How many times a day do you hear, “I’m bored,” or “What can I do?” Although it is easy to give in and suggest any number of things for your child to do, by resisting temptation you can encourage a sense of play and build creativity skills that last a lifetime. I come from a family of four children. When we were growing up we had very few structured activities. Rather than sports, play dates and outings, we had Legos, our imaginations, and one another. While some structured activities are helpful, having fewer activities allows time for your child to tap into his/her imagination and invent ways to pass the time.
Over the weekend we had a neighbor come over to play. Hint: it might be easier to encourage imagination by including a friend. Following a bit of Wii (ok, I’m not cruel), I suggested the kids go outside. After a bit of back and forth, the kids began inventing games. First they started with “scooter tag” where they played a version of schoolyard tag on scooters. Then, they played follow the leader. This game involved each child taking turns doing tricks on his scooter while the others tried to imitate.
Although play may seem childlike, it works wonders with adults too. And, it is much needed in today’s workplace. Many top product designers spend time “playing” and tinkering with inventions. Even folks who aren’t involved with product design benefit from play. It might be hard to believe, but I’ve worked with some of the top banking and insurance executives helping them “play” their way to new offerings. Sometimes we use trips to museums to tap into how artwork or exhibitions can provide ideas to solve business challenges. And, other times we use ordinary office supplies to play our way to teamwork.
Here’s one for you to try. This exercise is a great way to show adults they can still play (and with a purpose). Collect a few ordinary office supplies including: tape dispensers, sticky notes, glue sticks, and coffee stirrers. Give each team a set of supplies. Now, ask each team to use these materials to create a catapult. Once you have the catapults built, crush a sticky note into a ball and see which team can launch the ball the farthest. Not only is playing fun, but it can be a learning experience as well. After the games are over, ask teams what they learned from the experience. Many times, it is the ingenuity of the different catapults that catches attention.
Whether launching a new product, improving an offering or re-inventing the customer experience, a sense of play helps unleash possibilities and ignites innovation. Encourage a sense of play with your kids and take some time to get back in touch with your playful side. Play can be profitable for the mind and the bottom line!