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Newton got a novel idea when an apple fell down. I got mine when I ran out of tomatoes in my kitchen! This got me thinking. In the current lockdown situation, we’re having to remain creative with what’s available in our own environments. Both parents and children all over the world are getting used to the new normal of being at home round the clock and staying entertained with whatever they can access.

Speaking of creativity, ‘creative thinking’ by definition is our ability to look at a problem/scenario, and find new alternatives to solve it. It is one of the 10 life skills listed by ‘WHO’. This means that we need this creative thinking skill to deal effectively with the challenges of life.

Related: A Guide To Developing A Child’s Emotional Intelligence

There are 4 important pillars of creative thinking-

Fluency: Ability to rapidly-produce a large number of ideas or solutions to a problem can encourage creative thinking in the child. E.g. Think of all things that come to your mind when I say ‘red’ It could be an apple, a tomato, a cherry, a rose and even a bull. Remember it does not matter if it is a good or bad idea. Fluency is all about generating as many ideas as possible and let your creative wheel go on.

Flexibility: Ability to look at a situation from a different angle or perspective is also helpful in creative thinking. E.g. finding alternate use of any item which is entirely different from regular. Like we normally use a glass to drink water from but it can be also used as a pen stand.

Originality: Ability to create an unusual, novel and unique idea. E.g. Any unique artwork, rhymes or stories that one creates will help to bring out the creativity.

Elaboration: Ability to add details to expand upon an idea. E.g. Adding details in simple geometrical shape and creating rangoli or Mandala Art.

Once you’re aware of this, it might be easier to help develop creative thinking in children. When we have a crunch of resources is when our creativity works best so let’s make the most of this lockdown.

Here are the 4 ways to foster creative thinking in children

1. Alternative uses

2. Open-ended questions

3. Pretend Play/Imaginative Play

4. Add the Detail

1. Alternative uses:

creative thinking

Here the child has to think creatively for alternative use of an item quickly. These means think of the use of an object, for which it is not commonly used.

E.g. An umbrella is used to protect us from the sun and rainy weather. But its alternative use can be for decorating your home, covering plants which need less sunlight or as a lampshade. Keep a stopwatch/timer to make it exciting!

Remember, the objective here is the speed of idea generation and not the right or wrong idea. Go wild with your creative thoughts! Generate many different uses for common items, such as a pencil, a ruler, or a paper towel, bottle, plate, ball, bedsheets, newspaper etc.

2. Open-ended questions:

An open-ended question one that cannot be answered with a “yes” or “no” response. These questions give scope to a child to think out of the box and develop creative thinking skills.

Here are a few questions that you can try with your little one:


  • What would you do, if you were a bird?
  • What would you do, if you had a trunk like an elephant?
  • If you could talk to the moon. what would you say to it?
  • What would you do if it rains every day?

Please note that these questions may look very simple, but the responses you may be wild. I have heard some of these from children and they are amazing.

3. Pretend Play/Imaginative Play:

Imaginative Play

This is the kind of play when a child uses their imagination to role-play scenarios they have seen, experienced or would like to experience.

E.g. their books can become a house and brooms can become their aeroplane. Children can pretend to be a cook using house utensils, or be a doctor, policeman, or anything that they imagine.

Experts believe that apart from boosting creativity, imaginative plays improve social and language skills of a child. Here are some imaginative play ideas to be done at home-

Cook an imaginary meal:

Let your child serve the food made by them. Don’t worry about utensils, even a newspaper can become your plate and bowls. And don’t forget to thank your child for the yummy food.

Related: Easy recipes you can cook with your kid in summer

Sit inside a box and think out of the box:

Give a cardboard box to your child. Let their imagination take them where they want to go. This can be your child’s car, train, aeroplane, elephant and who knows a new imaginary castle can come out of it.

Get, set and go:

Pack your bag and go for an imaginary vacation. Give a bag, some clothes and ask your child what their dream vacation would be. Don’t forget to ask if they need to carry snacks for their trip. Well, this is a trip of imagination, who knows your vegetable trolley can become a baggage trolley.

4. Add the Detail:


Narrate a story to your child. Ask your child to add more details. E.g. when you say- ‘There was a lion’, let the child say if it was big/small and describe it. ‘He was walking in the jungle’ – let the child say how – slow/fast. ‘He saw a butterfly’ – let your child say – which colour/design the butterfly had. ‘He looked at the butterfly’  – let your child state the lion’s emotions

Similarly, you can make an outline sketch and ask your child to add details to it. E.g. you draw a mountain and child adds trees and plants to it. Or draw a ball and let your child make designs and colour it.

Isn’t this wonderful how much we can do with so little? It’s most important to not worry about children falling behind during this period. We are all in difficult and unprecedented times and this may be the only opportunity you have to teach your child life skills, spend time with them, and let them lead the way in deciding their activity of choice. Remember all those times before the lockdown you wondered when you will get the chance to spend time with family? This is that time and it is being offered to you on a platter. Grab it and don’t look back!


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