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Kids (and adults!) can get so much out of creative pursuits, but families don’t always have time to prioritize creativity. Creative play lets kids express and cope with their emotions, it gives them space to try new things without judgment or fear of messing up, it hones their problem-solving skills, and it helps them improve motor skills as well. Creative projects offer plenty of benefits for the whole family too, like an enjoyable mode of relaxation, a break from screen time, and bonding and discovering different sides of each other.
The idea of carving out time from your busy days and weeks for creativity might be intimidating, but it may not be as impossible as you think. Keep in mind that most kids can complete a creative activity in just 15 minutes! It may help to keep devices off the table during and after dinner so that everyone can stay engaged and present. Plus, not all creative endeavors have to be dedicated projects that are separate from your everyday life—there are plenty of ways to incorporate a creative mindset into everyday tasks.
Use the following ideas as inspiration, and challenge yourselves to try one new thing every day. Maybe some activities will even become part of the weekly routine, or lead to more in-depth exploration as a family!
- Design a calendar
Have kids help write out (or embellish) the current/upcoming month’s calendar, to-do list, or schedule in a creative yet functional way—like color-coding by day or person, or drawing fun icons for each activity. Look online at family calendars for inspiration.
- Map out a town
Have kids design and draw their dream neighborhood or town, and then hone their storytelling skills by explaining everything that appears in their ideal world.
- Food coloring fun
Let kids use materials like shaving cream, whipped cream, Cheerios, cotton balls, water, and ice to mix and experiment with colors to their hearts’ content. You can get in on the fun, too—then have everyone apply their colorful mixtures to paper to create pictures or patterns, and post pics of your art to social media to see if far-flung relatives can guess who created what!
- Dishwashing song
Make washing the dishes a family affair and cheer it up by creating a goofy song about all of the steps that need to be done. Who said that creativity had to take away from getting chores done?
- Virtual museum
If (like most families) you can’t get out to an actual art museum during a busy week, or you’re just ready to explore a new one, pick one of the many museums that offer virtual experiences that you can take in from your living room!
- Kitchen monster
Challenge kids to build a monster or made-up animal using only materials they can find in the kitchen—think cardboard, containers, twist-ties, rubber bands, aluminum foil, chopsticks, plastic forks, and more.
- Write original jokes
Exercise your funny bones, and have everyone come up with a joke to tell at dinner time. Announce the plan a couple of days in advance to give everyone time to think.
- DIY instruments
You don’t need to be accomplished musicians to have a family jam session. Make drums out of canisters, guitars out of rubber bands, and pan flutes out of bottles, and let loose!
- Write a letter
Send a snail mail letter to a faraway relative, or even write letters to your future selves using an online tool like FutureMe.
- Make a toy
If there’s something relatively simple that your child has been pining after, like a ramp for cars, a table and chair for figurines, or a pretend phone with realistic icons—help them make their own version!
- Video tour
Show kids that they don’t have to travel far to be inspired. See if they can become convincing virtual tour guides of their own home, yard, or neighborhood. The project may even help them notice and appreciate new things around them.
- Freeze cleanup
Play some great dance music and have the family tidy up together. When the “DJ” stops the music, everyone stops what they’re doing for a laugh at each other’s mid-cleanup poses.
- Sandwich shapes
During a meal or snack, cut or bite sandwiches, tortillas, cheese, etc. into different shapes or scenes while you eat. This way, you can squeeze some imaginative storytelling into even the busiest day!
- Make a music video
Kids can make up a story and/or dance to their favorite song, and film it. Younger kids may need help planning out what will happen during each section of the song. Watch the finished product together on the biggest screen in your house to make it special.
- Junk pile construction
Have each family member select one or two types of household materials, like paper towel tubes, empty bottles, tape, and paper clips. Put everything together in a pile and brainstorm what to construct with it.
- Deck the halls
Make decorations for your home, maybe using an upcoming holiday or season as inspiration. Bonus points if you learn together about a celebration from another culture and show off your appreciation for it with traditional decorations!
- Create a dish
Encourage kids to be chefs for the day and come up with a creative dessert, snack, or side dish. For younger kids, you can provide a limited number of ingredients that can be eaten raw, plus kid-safe kitchen tools. Older kids could take more initiative, including planning ahead with a grocery list.
- Watch a new genre
Find something different to watch together as a family, and introduce kids to a new genre of art! Some things to search for could include: animated short films, a mime act, improv, domino art, ice sculpting, live painting, beatboxing, a cappella, or dance forms from around the world.
- Cooperative story
Start with each person writing one sentence on a piece of paper and passing it to the person on their left. Then continue to add to each other’s stories until you’ve been around the table three times. Take turns reading the zany tales out loud!
- Color-match challenge
See if kids can mix paints, colored pencils, etc., to create the perfect match for things like: their favorite shirt, a pet’s fur, fruits you have at home, or flowers from the garden.
- Plunge into play dough
Even older kids and adults might find it therapeutic to mix a simple play dough recipe, then roll, squish, mold, and sculpt with abandon. Few activities are quite as forgiving, pleasurable, and versatile.
- Color wheel
Use found objects in the house to create a color wheel with the three primary colors and three secondary colors (older kids can aim for a more subtle gradient using more objects). Take a picture of each family member’s color wheel!
- Song rewrite
Reimagine the lyrics of a popular song, and perform it with the new lyrics. Hairbrush microphone optional.
- Hypothetical Qs
At dinner time or in the car, ask kids questions and conversation starters that encourage creative thinking. For example: If you got to design a new school, what would it have in it that your current one doesn’t? Or: If all the clothes on Earth disappeared and you had to design new outfits, what would they look like?
- Trade hobbies
Give kids your workout gear, crossword puzzle, or furniture catalog—while you explore their Legos, graphic novel collection, or favorite video game. It feels good to exercise a different part of your brain, plus you’ll learn more about each other’s interests—or at least have some fun pretending to be each other.
- . Curate a craft box
Comb through the house for found materials like buttons, ribbons, scraps of wrapping paper, bottle caps, and more. Collect them in boxes or bins to create your own makerspace for the next time you’re feeling crafty.
- Create a mood board
Sit around the kitchen table cutting up magazines, catalogs, or old calendars with the colors, patterns, or messages that inspire you. It’s a relaxing after-dinner activity!
- Music mix-up
Play kids some of your favorite songs from previous decades, and have them share some of their current faves with you. Or, try some family-friendly music from diverse artists you might not have heard before! Keep an open mind and let the different genres and styles of music inspire you.
- Organize with style
Maybe you want to color-code the bookshelves, find a new way to fit clothes into drawers, or line up toys by texture. Get the whole family interested in making things neat by letting each person find their own unique way to do it!
- Selfie props
Make your own scene for an unforgettable family picture. Challenge yourselves to think beyond silly hats and mustaches—try setting up a scene on the floor or stairs with toys, using random objects you happen to have a lot of (like socks or yogurt cups), or making a background using a simple craft like paper snowflakes or leaves.
BONUS: Document and share!
Choose one—or a few—of your favorite creative moments from the month, take a picture (or select a video clip), caption it, and share it on social media or in an email/text to family and friends. Younger kids who don’t have online accounts yet can help contribute to the family slideshow or caption. Let your month of creativity inspire those you love!
If you enjoyed this, check out our other 30-Day Challenges for families, like:
- 30-Day Love Challenge
- 30-Day Challenge for Raising Feminist Kids
- 30-Day Challenge to Raise an Eco-Conscious Child
- 30-Day Family Self-Care Challenge
- 30 Day Family “Say Something Nice” Challenge
- 30 Day “Get Outdoors” Family Challenge
- See them all here!
And don’t forget to get your free printables for each of these fun and connection-building challenges!