Let's Create Something New!
Let's Create Something New!
May is National Inventor’s Month!
How many times have you heard a parent say “They had more fun with the empty box than they did with the toy”? Children have wonderful imaginations, and can brainstorm and create new games with ease. That’s why those cardboard boxes turn into rockets, pirate ships, secret forts, and so much more.
Encouraging our children to create and use their imaginations can strengthen their problem-solving skills while letting them have some fun. The imaginative children of today could be tomorrow’s inventors.
Inventions don’t have to be difficult to create, or based on complicated science. We can invent better recipes for our smoothies, a crayon that’s shaped for small toddler hands, and musical instruments from materials in the recycling container. All it takes is a collection of materials, a bit of knowledge, and the willingness to try.
Looking for a fun indoor invention idea for young children? Try some of these:
- Creating with Legos or Duplo blocks is always a popular activity. If your children are stumped about what to build, suggest a tall tower, a wall as wide as the doorway, or a bridge.
- Building blanket forts by draping blankets over furniture. Add to their fun: let them dress in costume and take a pillow, flashlight and book inside their fort and crawl inside for a special fort storytime!
- Keep a collection of recyclable materials and pull it out whenever your kids need a break from schoolwork, are bored of their toys, or start chanting the “I’m bored / there's nothing to do” mantra. Challenge them to create a musical instrument, a doll house, a toy organizer, or whatever else they can imagine.
Rainy day? Don’t stay inside! Go out and have your kids create:
- Small bridges over mud puddles. They could use sticks, plastic dollhouse furniture, cardboard, paint stir sticks, or anything else you have that they can take outside. Can they make a bridge that will hold the weight of a small toy?
- Dams to hold back water and create tiny lakes. Beach toys would work great for this!
- A channel for the water to travel through. This could be something as simple as using a stick and drawing a line from one area to another. If the water doesn’t flow, talk to your child about how water moves and whether it goes uphill or downhill. Does their 'stream' have a slope? What happens if they make part of it deeper or wider?
- A small shelter to keep them dry. Provide a variety of materials (a plastic tablecoth, umbrella, chairs, cardboard boxes, etc.) and let them experiment to discover what they can use to make the best shelter.
If your children love to create, check out these books:
Labcraft Wizards by John Austin
Catch the Wind, Harness the Sun by Michael J. Caduto
Video Games: Design and Code your Own Adventure by Kathy Ceceri
Basic Electronics for Tomorrow’s Inventors by Nick Dossis
Zoom It: Invent New Machines That Move by Tammy Enz
3-D Engineering by Vicki V. May
Maker Lab 28 Super Cool Projects: Build, Invent, Create, Discover by Smithsonian Enterprises
If your family wants to learn more about famous inventors, here are some books to explore:
Whoosh! Lonnie Johnson’s Super-soaking Stream of Inventions by Chris Barton
Thomas Edison for Kids by Laruie M. Carlson
Mr. Ferris and His Wheel by Kathryn Gibbs Davis
Inventing the Future by Marfe Ferguson Delano
Alexander Graham Bell Invents by Anita Garmon
The Inventor’s Secret: What Thomas Edison told Henry Ford by Suzanne Slade