Creative and artistic are not the same thing. Creativity is an approach to life. Creative thinkers know that problems have many different solutions. When they encounter an obstacle, they find a way around rather than giving up. They have to be willing to take risks as they learn new skills. These are important life skills that need to be encouraged in children.
Summer activities, children’s crafts and science projects give children the opportunity to learn and practice these skills. Even if they follow a project guide exactly, they will still learn to make decisions about shades of colors and where to place items. Once they are familiar with the project, most children will want to make it again. That is when they get really creative. First the colors change, then the shapes, and suddenly it is a new project from their own imagination.
Creative projects encourage children to find the resources to make what they want, rather than opening up a box that has all the supplies in one place.
These are the guidelines we follow in 4-H day camp. One such activity the children enjoyed at the Wallins Fellowship/Wallins Family Resource Center 4-H day camp was designing a canvas tote bag the first day of camp. Campers made their own decisions about what designs would appear on his or her tote, what colors to use and whether the designs would be stenciled or free hand. The totes really came in handy. During the week campers placed completed projects in their totes to take home at the end of the week.
Activities involving student creativity and problem solving include:
n Preparing waffles or pancakes and deciding which topping flavors complemented their choice of food.
•• Choosing colors for tye-dye T-shirts while experimenting with color blending.
•• Constructing a Blue-bird nesting box, while discovering by trial and error which tools work best with different types of wood and patterns.
•• Keeping a personal journal documenting camp activities most enjoyed, least enjoyed and why.
•• Collecting leaves for 4-H project to enter into Harlan County Fair, while learning the correct way to press leaves and which leaves press or preserve better than others.
Kids can let their imaginations run wild when creating creatures out of rocks. They can think about how to use the different shapes to make their own creation.
Painted rocks materials include rocks, acrylic paint, glue and brushes.
•• Collect a lot of rocks. Be sure there are different sizes and shapes.
•• Start by choosing the rocks that will make up the pet (head, ears, maybe a nose, body, arms and legs).
•• Paint the entire rock, top and bottom, in one color.
•• When the first coat of paint dries, paint on the details (eyes, whiskers, fur).
•• When everything is dry, glue the pieces together.
•• Try to find some thick paints so that the rock won't show through.
If the kids get tired of the pet, it can become a door stop, book end, garden ornament or paper weight. They make a great gift for grandparents.
Another 4-H day camp project is making Silly Slime. Materials include corn starch and water.
Mix one cup of corn starch with one cup of water. Use your hands to mix it until it is a smooth texture. You can change the texture by adding a second cup of corn starch. Kids love adding food color or paint to make the slime. They have fun making it resemble different icky substances, and their imagination is more vivid then most parents want to hear described in detail.
Store in a covered container. It will keep for several days.
It is possible to use boiling water to create slime with a different consistency. You might want to try making it both ways and letting the kids experiment with the differences (once it's cooled a bit).
You can keep a large group of kids amused for hours with a few, well planned, treasure/scavenger hunt. Once they've been on one hunt, the kids may decide to plan the next one by themselves.
Jelly Treasure Hunt
A large bowl or other container
Jelly packets or a jar of jelly
1. Get about 50 packets of the cheapest jelly that you can find.
2. Break them up in the bowl. The children will love doing this step.
3. Once all the jelly is all broken up, put enough water in to fill the bowl.
4. When the jelly and water mix together, have the children add the treasure. (eg. plastic spiders, snakes, ponies, marbles, ...)
5. Leave to set. It may take overnight for the jelly to set as a large bowl may not fit in the fridge.
Once the jelly treasure has set, let the children loose to dig out the toys. They will have lots of fun hunting for the treasure.
Children love to see the toys through the jelly and squish the jelly in their fingers.
Every parent must use their own judgment in choosing which activities are safe for their own children. Our 4-H day camp program makes every effort to provide activity ideas that are safe and fun for children, but it is your responsibility to choose the activities that are safe in your own home.
Education programs of the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service serve all people, regardless of race, color, age, sex, religion, disability or national origin.