Encouraging a Sense of Play Builds Creativity Skills for Life


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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!

5 Responses to Encouraging a Sense of Play Builds Creativity Skills for Life

  1. Stephen Dill says:

    There is something to be said for providing materials for creative games instead of only the standard office games of ping pong or air hockey. Imagine a massive box of Legos, or Erector Set parts, or even recycled materials like they used to have in big barrels at the children’s museum (foam, shiny film, cardboard tubes, etc.).

    Great idea Alicia! Thanks for the smack upside the head.

    • aliciaarnold says:

      Your comment brings me back to the dotcom days. Remember offices with coffee bars, pool tables, video games and the such? Environment plays a big role in creativity – the surrounds make a difference in the scale of ideas. Great thought starter. Thank you!

  2. Rebecca says:

    I am stopping by the UBP11, and I love your blog! I am in constant need of reminders about creativity and the importance of it. Thank you. I subscribed by email.

  3. Dave Roller says:

    This is a great post and I enjoyed it quite a bit.

  4. Pingback: a homeschooling carnival – April 27, 2011 :: Garden of Learning

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