If you are wondering how to creatively engage your kids on boring afternoons, a great idea would be to write stories and illustrate them. Imagine the joy on your child’s face when she has a handwritten ( and drawn) book with her name on the cover page ! This is one activity that can be done with bare minimum supplies, you just need pencils, paper, any kind of colours and loads of imagination. Channelising kids imagination is a great way to improve their creativity.
This activity can be with varying complexity based on the age of the child and her writing and drawing capabilities.
An easy way to get a child’s imagination started is to provide prompts and encourge them to think further. Here are some ways to provide prompts for them to get started.
- Ask your child to pick her favourite item. This could be an animal, plaything, cartoon character, colour etc. Write these words down. Some examples are – Dinosaur, train, cat, swing, baloon, unicorn, fairy etc
- Ask your child to describe the item(s) picked. For instance you can prompt them with questions like – What colour is the balloon? Is it plain or does it have any patterns on it ? How big is the balloon ? These descriptions will enhance the story and also help with a great illustration.
- Alternately you can provide the prompts in the form of words. For eg you can ask your child to think of a story with his favourite blue car and the stars in the sky. Your child’s imagination will surprise you! You can also pick the prompts by looking for interesting objects at home ( frying pan, toy etc ) or by looking outside the window ( aeroplane , birds, trees, rainbow etc ).
- Once the protagonist or the main item has been fixed, ask your child to build a story around it. She might even pick to play a part in the story or include family members as well. Here again, you can assist the child in building the story. For eg if the child picks the object “train”, then you can ask if she wants to travel in the train, who will be her travel companions, what would be the destination etc. This could help in the construction of the story.
Tips to enhance the output:
Your child may require your help in writing or with the grammar and spellings. Keep the sentences very short and simple. Ideally the child should be able to read it by herself later on. Encourage your child to be as original and creative as possible. Do not be surprised if you find copied ideas! That is quite natural. For eg – My son and I were reading a book where the protagonist
trips over a shoe. So naturally in his story also the protagonist tripped over a shoe. I then encouraged him to think of something else and he came up with a suitcase! So the key is to encourage them to be as creative as possible and it is absolutely fine to be inspired by other books or stories initially.
Once the short story is done, the fun part begins ! Its actually time to illustrate the wonderful story. Ask your child to start with simple drawings of the objects and the surroundings. Keep it simple so that the child doesn’t get discouraged or overwhelmed. You could help by starting with a few simple sketches, show pictures on the internet or show the object to the child and ask him to draw. Then he can colour it as he pleases or leave it black and white. Do not restrict your child’s imagination and if he wants to colour a tree pink let him do it ! A few pictures are enough to give life to the story. Pin up the pages and write the author’s name on the cover. The child can illustrate the cover page too.
For older kids, lesser prompts may be needed and they can be left to complete the activity independently. You can provide guidance where-ever needed or whenever asked for it. The stories could be longer and the illustrations detailed. Let your child be the guide and watch the results. You may be surprised !
This is a great activity for kids who do not like colouring in books or creating conventional drawings or art work. My son doesnt really enjoy drawing or colouring but when he is asked to imagine and draw, he really enjoys the session. You may not get the desired outcome when you try this with your child, but it is sure to result in an afternoon well spent. Keep trying it again to get better stories and illustrations. These story books would make a great keepsake for the future too.
Here is a couple of sample activities I tried with my 6 year old son.
Ofcourse the hot air balloon looks more like a coloured popsicle ! I plan to try again when he is in the mood again. And this is where the very short story takes a twist and turns into a witch ! I had to write in the last line myself as he lost patience with writing !
Also he did’nt colour the witch as his attention span is quite less. The witch drawing is inspired by something he saw on television sometime back.
We wrote another story about his first ride in an auto rickshaw to the supermarket. He was not very pleased with how the auto rickshaw turned out (refer image on the left side of screen :)), so he requested me to help him make a better one. I drew a rough sketch and he coloured it. This is another technique you can adopt to help with the illustrations till the child is confident to draw independently.
As you can see we have used the back side of pamphlets for our work. Have fun creating great stories with your little ones and don’t forget to send your child’s illustrations to us. If we find the drawings unique and original, we may use them as designs in our future collections! I have also submitted the Hot Air Balloon illustration made by Aryaveer, my 6 yr old. 🙂
About the author:
Suchitra is a full time mom to a naughty little 6 year old boy. After having worked for a decade in the IT industry, she now devotes her free time to her childhood passion of art and crafts. She loves reading and doing crafts with her son. She also enjoys cooking, travelling and exploring new cultures.