Applied Theology
by WordExplain

A Potpourri of Biblical and Practical Perspectives
on a Variety of Topics . . .

A creative God created man in His own image and likeness.  Genesis 1:26-27

Parenting Q&A

by Christa Bartsch
Cultivating Creativity

April, 2008 

Q:  Do you have ideas on how to teach children how to be creative and imaginative?

A:   I love seeing children lost in their imagination, don’t you?  It’s such a sweet, innocent and yet so very valuable thing for children to learn.  I remember getting lost in my playing so much that I didn’t know what time of day it was!  When I was even as old as 7th grade, I’d go outside and build a fort or playhouse with nothing but scraps from dad’s barn or garage.  I’d find some cozy little place where some animals had smashed down the weeds in the ditch and I’d claim that as my next home away from home.  I got busy hauling old rugs and stumps of wood to my new hideaway to begin my creating.  My all time favorite thing was when I was about 9 years old Dad let me use 2 cinder blocks in my playhouse.  One would lay flat with the 2 holes facing up which served as my sink.  The second one stood upright with the holes facing toward me and it served as my refrigerator/freezer.  I loved that!  I even found a tumbleweed once and decorated it as a Christmas tree for my “living room”!

As you can see I loved imagination as a girl (many thanks to my mom) and I enjoy fostering that in my children.  I think it’s wonderful for children to be creative in their play.  It comes straight from their imagination instead of pre-packaged forms of entertainment that our culture shoves at our children.  It teaches them to be content with little.  And it helps them develop mental skills because they are used to thinking for themselves and problem-solving instead of just playing with something someone in a factory made for them.  Now, don’t get me wrong, our kids have toys and things from stores but I just enjoy seeing them use those things to their benefit in their imagination instead of only what it was intended for. 

The example of my childhood is not possible for many of us, I realize, since I lived out in the country during those years but maybe you could tailor it to your living situation.  I’ll also give you two other ideas that are indoor fun.  They may not be new to you at all but I’ll just throw them out there in hopes of spurring on some fun, creative play in your home.

1 – PLAY LIBRARY.  The children line up all of their books (and as many of yours as you’ll allow) along an empty wall.  They pull the coffee table or a TV tray over to the area and stock their “check-out counter” with necessary supplies such as a cup with pencils in it, stickers to hand out to their little customers, a toy that beeps that is used to “check out books” (our kids use a toy cell phone), a little notebook and a rubber stamp of any kind and a stamp pad for stamping the “due date”. When I played this as a child, I even cut out little pieces of paper and taped them on the inside cover of my books.  I stamped or wrote on those slips of paper as a real librarian would.  I loved that!  They can make library signs and whatever else they come up with.  They announce to the family that the library is open and family members check out books at their library.  (It’s extra fun when dad and older siblings join in!)  You hold onto your checked out books for a few minutes and then return them and check out more.   

2 – PLAY  RESTAURANT.  The children use a toy kitchen if they have one or make a pretend stove from a box.  Set up the kitchen in the living room and the children make signs and menus and set the table for the customers.  They seat you at the restaurant (or just serve you from the couch if you’re not in the mood to be that into it!), take your order, bring it to you, you pay them etc.  You can use the plastic food that most kids have (a big bucket of it is real cheap) or you could allow them to use certain foods such as crackers, cheese, grapes, fruit snacks, etc. to serve you.


Hopefully these ideas have caused you to go back in your memory to the days of carefree playing and creating as a little girl.  Give that gift to your children!  Soon they’ll be coming up with things to play that you never thought of!


by Christa Bartsch

April, 2008

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About the Author:  Christa Bartsch is a stay-at-home mom who lives in the rural Midwest.  She has led seminar workshops for women on marriage and parenting.  She has been happily married for fifteen years and is the mother of five children.  She also sings on the worship team at her church.

WordExplain by James T. Bartsch

(Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.  Used by Permission.)

Published February 18, 2008

Updated March 30, 2014

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