By Dr. Sabra R. Smith
As young, school children many of us were indirectly taught to be conformist and not to utilize the power of our imaginations. I am reminded of such admonitions as, “Color in the lines,” “Be careful and take your time” and “See, this is what it is supposed to look like.”
Ironically, I can also remember passing these same conformist ideas down to my students as an Early Ed teacher several years ago. One day, however, I paused and asked myself, “Are you participating in the development of the creative minds of young children or are you stifling their ingenuity, creativity, and innovation?” It is because of such innovators as Albert Einstein, the Wright Brothers and Benjamin Franklin, who decided to color outside the lines of convention and utilize the power of their imaginations, we are able to experience the world as we do today.
Much like dramatic play, arts n’ crafts can be used to develop the imagination of young children. With a vivid imagination, young children will be equipped to bring to life innovative ideas in their adult years much like the Wright Brothers who upon seeing a bird fly were convinced that men too could fly, and later invented the airplane. Yet, without the ability to vividly imagine an idea, building the seemingly impossible will be impossible.
When using arts n’ crafts to help develop the imagination of young children the process may be started by asking such questions as, “If you could have anything thing in the world, what would that be?” Once the child seems to have an idea in his head, ask him to re-create that idea on paper reminding him to use both pictures and words. Then encourage the child to gain a clearer understanding of his picture by asking him to add the five senses to his creative art form. Incorporating the senses makes an image life-like and real.
You may ask such questions as: “What does your drawing sound like?” “What does it smell like? “What does it feel like?” and “What does it taste like?” Once the picture has been fully depicted and described, then allow the child to color the picture utilizing various, age appropriate, media like crayons, paints, feathers, glitter glue, etc. To further the imaginative process, wait a week and then have the child return to his original creation and ask him if there is anything he would like to add or take away from his picture. This process facilitates the ability to refine a concept or idea to a final thought form. Continuing in this manner helps children become comfortable with generating and refining ideas from conceptualization to reality. Consequently, many of today’s architects, designers, and engineers began by learning early on how to create, refine and bring to life on paper, the pictures in their heads.According to Einstein, “Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.” With the ability to imagine, today’s children will be positioned to become tomorrow’s leaders.
Dr. Sabra R. Smith has her Doctorate in Education and is Lead Administrator and Director of Education for John Robert Powers Las Vegas. She is also author of the book, Innermost Parts: Theory of Spiritual Relativity, Law of the Abundant Life. To contact Dr. Smith call: (702) 429-7487 or (702) 364-9900.