The Importance of Imagination

imagine, imagination, creativity, originality, invention, innovators, play time, createAlbert Einstein gave one piece of advice on parenting:

“If you want your children to be brilliant, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more brilliant, read them more fairy tales.” –Albert Einstein

I read this quote and felt I had to write a post about it. A few months ago I spoke at the Sandbox Summit at MIT where we discussed the importance of kids at play, imagination and creative time.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VsPEIzDMnBE[/youtube]

Never before has this been such an important topic. As technology develops and new games, devices and advancements come into the home, our schools and our play time we must make sure we are keeping the most essential element of childhood:

IMAGINATION!

 

When child listens to a story her brain is blossoming and pruning and developing new neural connections. When a boy plays he is teaching his mind to create new spaces, ideas and rules that are outside his daily life. As parents how can we continue to keep our kid’s and teen’s imaginations growing? Here are a few ideas from our teens on how to keep fairy tales alive:

1. Make Your Own Cartoons

Whether you or your child is a comic book aficionado or amateur artist. Comiqs is a website that lets users create and share their comic-style stories with a community. I think this is a great way to get feedback, grow talent and have fun with comics online.

2. Imagination Cooking

There are literally thousands of cooking websites where kids can get creative with food. I like Cookthink which helps you work with ingredients you already have lying around the house. It blends the offline kitchen with online help.

3. Editing and Writing

If you like writing try webook. This is an online community where you can share your works, get feedback from other writers & readers, and find other books to read. Like a community of editors!

4. Read Fairy Tales

Read, read, read. Get your teens and kids to read all different kinds of books to expand their imagination.

5. Imaginative Fashion

You can make your own tshirts on sites like threadless, print your own fabric at spoonflower.comand critique fashion styles at Fashism.

6. Arts And Crafts

Etsy is the best site for crafty people and you can make money selling your latest creations.

7. Poetry

A great way to get feedback and read some great poetry is in online poetry forums. I also love TeenInk for teen writers.

8. Star Gazing

If you love star gazing, the online version is definitely Stellarium. This is a free open source planetarium for your computer. It shows a realistic sky in 3D, just like what you see with the naked eye, binoculars or a telescope.

9. Family History

Have your kids write and research a family history.  This will get them to interview grandparents and aunts and uncles while also practicing their research and writing skills…a great Christmas gift for the grandparents!

10. Travel Journal or Diary

If your can get your kids to keep a diary—even if it is once a month, this is great practice.  Every time you travel they should be writing down their thoughts and ideas about what they are seeing and feeling.

7. Creative Writing

Have them do creative writing assignments at home.  You can have them write a creative piece called: “what I didn’t do over spring break” if they were not able to go anywhere.  Or have them write a piece from the point of view of the fridge, imagining what your family seems like to an outsider! Anything creative will get those juices flowing.

Most importantly–do you feel you stimulate your imagination? Teens and kids learn the best by example. What have you imagined lately?

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