How To Cultivate Creativity by Rebecca Malotke-Meslin - DuPage Children's Museum

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How To Cultivate Creativity by Rebecca Malotke-Meslin

October 28, 2021

How to Cultivate Creativity

By Rebecca Malotke-Meslin, The Avery Coonley School

Do you love witnessing creativity? I do!  It feels magical. That moment when a person creates something unique straight from their brain. But it’s not magic. It can be cultivated in all of us. 

Creativity seems spontaneous, but it is just our brain taking in tons of information we’ve learned over time and rearranging it in a new way. All the music you’ve heard, all the books you’ve read, all the movies you’ve watched. We’re constantly taking in more information than we realize, but we don’t always know how we’re going to use it again later.

So how do I turn that information into creativity? Remember how in Rosie Revere, Engineer Rosie picked things from the trash and stashed them away? She pulled them out and re-imagined how the trash could be used to build her engineering marvels! She played, and tinkered, and practiced her engineering skills. 

That is the secret: practice. Yes! Creativity takes practice and when you practice it, it becomes second nature. Practice makes permanent, not perfect!

So, how can you practice creativity? By asking a couple of simple questions:

  • How else could we do this? You’ve solved a problem one way, which is exciting, but what if there is another way to solve the problem, faster, with fewer steps, or with less mess? 
  • What else could this be? Looking at a popsicle stick, a balloon, or building blocks – what could it be other than what we know it as? A microphone? A volleyball? Dominoes? 
  • How else could you use this? Tools that we use everyday can be reimagined for other purposes from tongs to magnets, rarely do tools only have one use.

Here is a game you can play: Draw a button on a piece of paper (like a button on your shirt.) Make it large, about 6” wide. Ask your child to finish the picture. The first thing they might do is draw a shirt or pants on the paper so that the button is placed properly. Then ask them, “but, WHAT ELSE could this be other than a button?” Let them tell you a story about what they see. A robot head? The eyeball of a monster? A far off planet? You can use the same drawing prompt everyday for a week and see what else they come up with.

Not every idea has to be great. Just keep generating ideas. Even when you really like the solution you’ve thought up, don’t stop! Keep going until you’ve exhausted every idea you have. We often keep looking at a problem, or a tool, or a toy the same way we always have. Try to forget EVERYTHING you know about it. A little imagination, a little patience, and a little practice, is all you need to cultivate creativity. Let’s create safe spaces to take risks, consider new ideas, and BE CREATIVE!

About Rebecca

Rebecca Malotke-Meslin is the Director of Enrollment and Financial Aid at The Avery Coonley School, a private school serving academically bright and gifted students in Preschool through 8th grade in Downers Grove, IL. She works with families to help them make the best educational choices for their children. She lives in Naperville with her husband and two children, ages 9 and 12.