Children’s creativity: How is it developed?

Children’s creativity: How is it developed?
Games, drawing, dancing... Children express their creativity in different ways. How can creativity be stimulated in everyday activities?

Being creative means being able to have a fresh perspective on something and learning to see life from different angles. A creative child has self-confidence while showing flexibility, inventiveness, curiosity, and openness.

Are all children creative?

All children are creative, but they have different levels. For example, a child is creative when finding new ways to use a toy or when making their teddy bear talk. They are also creative when coming up with decorating ideas for their room and helping to make them happen, or when preparing a surprise for a member of their family.

In addition, creativity is something that can develop, both in daily activities and in the child’s cultural and artistic games and activities. For example, during play, children develop creativity while in contact with others making discoveries, inventing stories, or using their imagination to better understand the world in which they are living.

Here are some activities that encourage children to work their creativity on a daily basis:

  • Blocks or building games (e.g., block games, fort building, puzzles) that the child can use to create stories.
  • Characters (e.g., doll, puppets, plush toys, figurines) to whom the child can give their voice or with whom they create dialogue.
  • Artistic activities such as: Visual and plastic arts (e.g., drawing, cutting, modelling), music (e.g., song, nursery rhymes, improvisation on percussion instruments or using applications), dance and drama.
  • Physical activities (e.g., balancing games, motor skills play structure, general movement).
  • Collaborative activities (e.g., team play in artistic, cultural, or physical activities).

Benefits of creativity

Free play: How? (in French)

Creativity promotes the child’s development in several ways.

For example, creativity:

  • Allows the child to strengthen their identity when they dare to assert themselves by showing originality in their games or daily life.
  • Has an effect on self-esteem when carrying out activities of a playful, artistic, or cultural nature.
  • Facilitates the expression of emotions and ideas for all children, even the shyest. Therefore, it promotes openness toward others.
  • Teaches the child to look at things from new perspectives and to discover their environment from different points of view.
  • Promotes the search for original ideas or solutions when the child needs to find a solution to a problem or overcome an obstacle.
  • Contributes to the development of concentration, self-confidence, and autonomy.
  • Encourages initiative, critical thinking, the ability to make and take responsibility for choices, interpersonal skills and respect, openness to the arts.

How to stimulate your child’s creativity

As a parent, you can stimulate your child’s creativity in different ways every day. Here are some examples:

  • Take interest in their tastes and games, what they do and what interests them. Take the time to listen to them; this is how you have access to their view of the world, their imagination, and what makes them a unique being.
  • Ask them about their impressions of whatever they have seen, heard, or experienced during an activity (e.g., at the park, during an activity at school, at a friend’s house, during their soccer match). From what they tell you, you can also communicate your perceptions and opinions.
  • Encourage them to try new things: Taste new food, meet new people or do new activities, discover places, etc. Encourage them to be more daring and to be curious about novelty (e.g., learn how to make a simple recipe, orient themselves in the neighbourhood, take care of an animal, discover important buildings in your locality and their history).
To develop creativity, your child must have opportunities to try out games and daily activities. Therefore, you need to be open and flexible.
  • Plan some time in the day when your child can have free play by doing activities that spark their imagination.
  • Give them time to make their own discoveries during a creative activity, without control or judgment of their results. Show interest in what they create and use the opportunity to ask about how they did the activity.
  • Let them choose their activities. However, encourage them to persevere by finishing what they start, e.g., swimming, karate, or dance classes. If your child loses interest in their activity, listen to them, but if possible, encourage them to continue to the end.
  • Provide them with materials to help express themselves (e.g., pencils, coloured paper, musical instruments). Keep empty containers, boxes, and old clothing; they can be used for disguises or arts and crafts. Introduce new materials and ask your child for several suggestions of what they could make out of them. Encourage your child to follow through with their ideas and help them if necessary.
  • Make them notice sounds, colours, and shapes during your daily activities (e.g., birds singing, engine sounds, colours of the food on their plate, clouds, or shadows cast on the ground). Then ask the child if they can associate these sounds, colours, or shapes with other things (e.g., blue like…, rectangle like…, zigzag like…). This helps them make connections between different things and allows the child to discover new words and ideas.
  • Bring your child to cultural activities: Festivals, park performances, parades, exhibitions, etc. Afterwards, discuss the activity with them to find out what they were interested in and what they got out of the event. Help them remember details about something in a show, a visual work, or the interactions between circus characters, for example.
  • Read and tell your child stories. Ask them to come up with a different ending or to introduce new characters, for example. Change up character dialogue by adopting characters’ voices. Talk to your child while mimicking a character’s behaviour from the story. Invite them to adopt attitudes and mimic one of the characters, an object, or even something in nature that is in the story.
  • Involve them in daily family life (e.g., meal preparation, setting up a board game, putting toys away).
  • Limit time in front of screens. Encourage them to go outside to play with friends or to perform artistic activities, for example.

Free or structured activities?

To achieve the full benefits of creativity, there must be a balance between freedom of expression without limits and some form of structure. This perspective on creativity allows the child to express their emotions, demonstrate their originality, and feel free to put their imagination on display. The child needs this space free from judgment to better express themselves.
However, instructions do not always need to be avoided, as they provide structure for the activity and the child. Indeed, limits (e.g., drawing without the colour red, using words beginning with the letter A, singing as gently as possible) are challenges that can spur your child’s creativity by forcing them to find new ways to achieve their goals. A certain level of discipline also encourages the child to persevere and get to the end of whatever they have started. They will also experience the satisfaction of performing an artistic activity from beginning to end.

Things to keep in mind

  • All children are creative, but at different levels.
  • Creativity contributes to the child’s development, self-affirmation, and openness to others.
  • Even though creativity can develop on a daily basis through your child’s games, you can also stimulate their creativity in different ways (observation, participation, discussion, etc.).


Naître et grandir

Scientific review: Francine Chaîné, associate professor, Université Laval’s School of Art
Research and Editorial:
The Naître et grandir team
Updated: April 2022




Useful links and resources

Note: Hyperlinks to other sites are not updated on a continuous basis. Thus, some links may not work. In such case, use the search tools to find specific information.

  • ALLOPROF PARENTS. “5 activities to spark your child’s creativity.”
  • BESANÇON, Maud. “Les clés de la créativité,” Cerveau & Psycho, issue 46, 2011, pp. 40-45.
  • BESANÇON, Maud and Todd LUBART. La créativité de l’enfant : évaluation et développement. Brussels, Éditions Mardaga, 2015, 152 pp.
  • CHAÎNÉ, Francine. “Créativité et création en éducation,” Éducation et francophonie, 40 (2), fall 2012, pp. 1-5.
  • COURNOYER, Nicole. “La créativité : psychologie de la découverte et de l’invention de Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.”
  • HADDAD, Georges. “Les défis de la créativité, Recherche et prospective en éducation : réflexions thématiques,” UNESCO, 2012, 10 pp.
  • RAISING CHILDREN NETWORK. “Imagining, creating and play: School-age children.” 2020.
  • RAISING CHILDREN NETWORK. “Creative activities for school-age learning and development.” 2022.