Helping children think outside the box is one of the most important roles of the child care environment. Lucky there are so many ways to engage and excite young minds while having fun.
To help children think outside the box, we’ve got five approaches to share with you. Try these and you will be opening up children’s minds to new things in no time.
Ask open-ended questions
A simple way to encourage lateral thinking is helping children develop their independence and to better express their feelings with open-ended questions.
Some simple suggestions for this exercise are asking children questions that begin with ‘how, why, where, and what’ compared to questions that begin with ‘do you, or can you?’ Allow them time to answer, and offer gentle prompts when they appear stuck finding their thoughts.
For example, rather than asking them ‘Do you like painting?’ you could pose the question as ‘What do you like best about painting?’
Start with the children sitting in a circle with a large piece of paper in the middle and a bunch of pencils, markers and/or crayons. Start by drawing a wavy line anywhere on the paper and invite the first child to add to the line by using a direction such as ‘Make the line taller’.
Allow each child to add to the line with a new direction each time. When all children have had a turn, they could even work try to create a story around the colourful picture they have collaborated on!
A brainstorming session is another group activity that allows the children to work together and experience other points of view. Start with a simple object such as a shoebox or cardboard tube and ask them to use their imaginations to tell you what it could be.
Write their suggestions down on a piece of paper and help them explore their suggestions through discussion as a group.
Something as simple as stepping into nature can offer a canvas for free and creative thinking. Break the class into small groups and ask each group to collect specific items from the area such as small sticks, small stones, leaves, and flowers. When they have collected enough of each item, bring them together to make pictures or patterns with the collections.
Another activity is to ask the children to lie down on the grass and search for shapes in the clouds, asking them open-ended questions about what they see.
Present them with problems
One day, pose a scenario that the tracks to the train set have gone missing. Ask the children to find something that could be used to substitute the tracks. Ask them to look around the room and call out when they find items they feel may work.
Discuss each item as a group, and the reasons why it would or wouldn’t make a good replacement for the tracks before moving along to the next suggestion.
When your goal is to help children think outside the box, it helps to think outside the box yourself!
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