Designer Tim Brown talks in a TED video about how playfulness and creativity belong together.

Children have many traits that support creativity, but they are often lost when people reach adulthood. Consciously supporting these traits increases creativity and makes it fun!

1) No peer-judgement

It’s much easier to come up with and suggest new ideas, when one doesn’t have to be afraid of peer judgement. Children are not embarrassed of their work, but adults often are.

2) No self-editing

Adults often unconsciously assume that there are unwritten rules that have to be followed, and then self-edit their ideas out based on these rules. Children don’t have that much of this burden.

3) Exploration

First aim for quantity, instead of quality. Build rapid “prototypes” in order to learn how the medium works. Build a sand castle and learn how the sand behaves. Build a brick tower and see what makes it fall.

4) Building

Build things, instead of just thinking, talking or writing. Brown calls this as “thinking with your hands”. It’s easier to figure out what to do, if one has something tangible to start with.

Kindergartens have tools for creating (scissors, glue, tape, colored pencils and cardboard etc.), but these are often not available for older students.

5) Role play

Often acting out a situation helps to understand it. Kids do acting play daily, but adults often feel uneasy with it (fearing peer judgement, aiming for quality). Role play also grows empathy, which is crucial in understanding and solving problems.

6) Co-negotiation

Agreeing on rules makes participation feel more comfortable (and secure) and prevents fights. Children often co-negotiate rules for play.


Kids arts and crafts tools photo by Carissa Rogers, Creative Commons Attribution

6 Creative Traits to Support in Kids