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As a newspaper columnist, Nancy Devlin, Ph.D. has written over 700 articles on subjects related to education and parenting. Welcome to her Classroom!

Dignified Junk Box for Creativity

Some parents survived this harsh winter when their children

were confined to the house better than others. The wise parents

were those who were prepared. The same preparation will help

with the long summer months about to come. This preparation

involves providing opportunities for children to be creative

rather than relying on computer games and television to fill the long


There are many ways to do this and the following are just a

few suggestions. Create a “dignified junk” box. This is a very

big cardboard box in which you put things you might ordinarily

throw away but save because they have the “potential” to be used

as something else or made into something wonderful. That would

include, among millions of other possibilities, string, ribbon,

colorful wrapping paper, rubber bands, egg boxes, tissue paper,

toilet paper rolls, pieces of toys that fell apart, broken

jewelry, left-handed glove, pieces of material, old picture

books, greeting cards, catalogues, boxes and on and on. When

you start doing this, you may never again throw anything away

because you get caught up with its potential. When the winds

blow, or it gets too hot or miserable to be outdoors, take out

the box and add scissors, paste, scotch tape, needle and thread

and whatever else creative children need and let them create

wonderful things to their hearts content.

Starting a scrapbook is also fun. This requires that you

save old magazines and newspapers in preparation. A young child

can make a book of all the things that start with the different

letters of the alphabet. If a child has a hobby, like collecting

airplanes, she could cut out all of the stories about airplanes.

If she likes sports, she could cut out pictures of her favorite


It helps to encourage your children to start a hobby.

Children can spend many happy hours pursuing it. Hobbies like

collecting stamps, baseball cards, coins, and on and on require a

great deal of time. Sometimes the only time the children have to

pursue a hobby is when they are forced by unforeseen

circumstances to stay in the house. If you are ready with the

suggestion and the materials, they might become interested, enjoy

themselves and learn a great deal at the same time.� 

If you have a camcorder, you might suggest that older

children write a script, dress the part, act in, and film their

own movie. In anticipation of this activity, you might get

another cardboard box in which to throw old clothes.� 

It is a good idea to stockpile materials for cooking. These

would include but not be limited to cake mixes, pie ingredients.

cookie mixes, jello, puddings and so on. The children could help

prepare a meal. Other materials you might want to have on hand

are puzzles, clay, crayons, and magic markers. Do not forget

board games, legos, blocks and cards. 

If you are given enough warning that the children will be

confined to the house for a period of time, go to the library as

quickly as possible and get out as many books as are permitted.

When you choose books for children’s pleasure reading, choose

those which are at least a year below their current reading level

at school. For younger children, choose those with no writing or

only one word per page. Provide a comfortable atmosphere for

reading. There should be comfortable chairs with good lighting

available. We tend to make the most comfortable room the one

that has the television in it. Close up the television and

declare that room off limits. Instead provide the atmosphere,

the opportunity and the encouragement for your children to make

creative choices. If done right, you and your children might

even begin to look forward to these periods of unforeseen


Posted in Behavior, From Experience, Getting the Most For Your Child, Parenting, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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