Blog: Bright Ideas

Creativity-Boosting Gifts You Can Give Your Kids: Free Time

This post is the first in a series of creativity-boosting gifts you can give to the kids in your life. For more gift ideas, check out thoughts on space to create, unwrappable presents, innovative books, and opportunities to create together.

Each year, I struggle over what to give my kids for the holidays. On one hand, I want the holidays to be filled with wonder and excitement and anticipation. I have wonderful holiday memories from my own childhood and want to create those for my children. This is often centered around gift giving. But my feelings are mixed. Many parents have experienced the feeling after the holidays that they’ve been loaded down with a lot of “stuff”. While it may have been fun to rip open presents, it’s not so fun when your home is littered with them and you’re once again surrounded by choruses of “I’m bored” or “I have nothing to do” and the kids laze away their winter break in front of a screen.

Working at Galileo has given me a new vision for my children and how I want them to interact with the world. I want my kids to use their creativity, to be innovative, and to have many diverse experiences. These are my musings on how I plan to accomplish these goals this holiday season. The best part is, you can do this too! With a little planning, you can create a holiday filled with excitement, new traditions and memories, and lots of creativity. Once you start encouraging an innovative mindset with your kids at home, you’ll be surprised and how much more easily they’ll flex their creative muscles and figure out projects to do on their own.

Over the next week, I’ll share my thoughts on five creativity-boosting gifts for kids: Free time, space to create, bona fide unwrappables, innovative books, and opportunities to create together. Today, we’ll dive into the first gift - free time.

Gift #1 - Free Time

Kids’ days are often very structured. From school to sports to activities many children lead highly scheduled lives. While these activities are important, they often leave kids little time for free, unstructured play. I remember long afternoons spent outside in the woodsy backyard, making forts, exploring, and engaging in pretend play. Kids need this time to stretch their imaginations (not to mention nurture their cognitive and emotional development). Here are some suggestions to get you going:

  • Get outside. Give your kids the opportunity to explore and interact with the world and with nature. When there is nothing structured to do, it’s amazing what kids will come up with. Schedule an hour in the backyard or park, or take a trip to your nearest outdoor recreational space. 
  • Spark an idea. Giving kids a theme or idea can spark their imagination and give them the freedom to let their imagination go wild. Ask them to put on a puppet show, play pirates, or design the perfect park and see where they take it.
  • Give them an open-ended responsibility. Give your kids the responsibility of coming up with the entertainment for your holiday gathering. They could put on a talent show, host a singing competition, or plan a skit complete with costumes and set.

Hope Adams is a Galileo Area Director in Orange County, CA. When she’s not encouraging young innovators - including her two kids - she loves expressing her own creativity through cooking, photography, and drawing.