Unplug and Play: Here are 500 Ideas How

CVR Giant Bk of Creativity for Kids_Roost Books

The Giant Book of Creativity for Kids: 500 Activities to Encourage Creativity in Kids Ages 2 to 12 by Bobbi Conner (Roost Books, an imprint of Shambhala Publications) goes on sale next Tuesday, March 24 and will be in bookstores nationwide.

At a time when children spend far much too time plugged, glued to devices, this book a wonderful resource for imaginative playing away from a screen – from building to writing to singing and dancing, this book offers up some simple ways to help parents nurture and support a child’s creativity – not to mention these activities are great ways for some parents to spend some fun quality time with their kids. Conner, a former radio host and author wrote the book, “Unplugged Play.”

Here is a sneak peek into this book filled with a few ideas:



Preschoolers start with corrugated cardboard and tempera paints to create a colorful, textured collage.


One sheet of corrugated cardboard

One 11-by-14-inch piece of colored mat board

Preschool (safety) scissors

Nontoxic, tempera paint cakes (various colors)

Nontoxic white glue, such as Elmer’s


Newspapers or vinyl tablecloth (to contain the mess)

Setup Parent removes the paper layer from the cardboard to reveal the corrugated ridges. Cut or tear 8 to 10 small rectangles or squares of the tex­tured cardboard for this project. Offer a little help with gluing (see below), too, if needed.

Get Creative Your child squirts glue on the mat board and assembles the cardboard shapes on the sticky surface in any collage design he likes. Let the glue dry for 10–15 minutes.

When it is dry, your child paints the cardboard shapes to create a colorful, textured collage.


Preschoolers love to sort, cut, and paste different-colored and textured papers to see what they can create.


Colored construction paper

Magazine photos

One sheet of mat board, poster board, or cardboard for the collage base

White (nontoxic) glue or glue stick

Preschooler (safe) scissors

Optional: Fragments of your child’s unfinished (or rejected) drawings or paintings

Get Creative Your child tears or cuts assorted pieces of paper and uses the glue stick to create a multicolored and multitextured collage. There are no rules, just a desire to make something original and artful with the materials. Some children enjoy overlapping the papers, some make a puzzle-piece design, and others create designs with a few pieces of paper and lots of empty space on the background. All these and other choices make lovely collages.


Create an interesting artsy collage with scraps of burlap, buttons, clear glue, and mat board!


Small scraps of burlap fabric (assorted colors)

Nontoxic white glue, such as Elmer’s

Fabric scissors (for adult use only)

One 11-by-14-inch piece of mat board or poster board

Assorted buttons

Setup Parents use scissors to cut some small scraps of fabric for the project.

Get Creative Your child uses glue and assorted buttons and burlap to create a lovely collage mounted on a piece of mat board of any color. (Help your child apply a little pressure or pat the glued fabric and buttons to hold them in place if needed.)

Glitter-Glue-and-Button Collage

Start with a sheet of mat board. Your child uses glitter-glue pens to create a drawing on the board, and then presses buttons into the glue for an interesting design.

Silky-Fabric Puzzle Collage

Parents—cut small scraps of silky, smooth, or shiny fabric scraps into narrow rectangles (assorted colors). Encourage your child to glue the fabric to a black (or colored) sheet of mat board to create a small lovely collage. One challenge is to suggest that your child make a “puzzle-like” collage, with each little scrap of fabric touching the next. Or just keep the project completely open-ended! (My daughter created a 6-by-8-inch Silky-Fabric Puzzle Collage when she was four years old. We framed it and hung it on the wall many years ago. This delicate, colorful collage is as lovely today as it was twenty years ago. And it’s a treasured part of our family art collection!)


Kids enjoy using compressed sponge material (Sponge ’Ums) to create their own customized shapes for printing!


Sponge ’Ums (compressed sheets of sponge material, available at teacher-supply or craft stores)



Fine-tip felt marker

Tempera paints

Disposable plastic plates

Poster board, watercolor paper, or newsprint

Get Creative Your child uses a mark­er to draw any shape or object on the sponge material. (Perhaps she will draw a circle, half-moon, giant lips, butterfly, or any other shape that strikes her fancy!) She uses the scis­sors to cut the sponge shape from the Sponge ’Ums, and wets the sponge and wrings out the excess water. Then she dips the sponge in the paint and uses it to print on the paper.


Your child can make easy paper trees to go along with the cardboard buildings or paper roads that she creates.


A green marker

Brown paper lunch bags



Get Creative Work with your child to create the first tree together so she understands the process. Use a green marker to color the top 3 inches of a paper bag. When you’ve colored all around the top, use the scissors to cut fringe into the open (green) end of the bag. Stand the bag up and twist tightly in the middle section of the bag to make the tree trunk. (Note: the

bottom section of the bag, below the twisty part, will be the “roots” of the tree that will allow the tree to stand upright.) Use the tape to secure the trees to the road or sidewalk made of poster board or construction paper.


  • Stock your cupboard with an assortment of child-friendly construction materials: blocks of every kind and size, cardboard boxes (shoe boxes; empty oatmeal containers; pasta boxes; and small, medium, and large recycled boxes from the grocery store).
  • Encourage your child to work independently on creative building activities, but be ready to step in to help brainstorm solutions on an as-needed (brief) basis.
  • Present an age-appropriate building challenge to encourage freestyle construction projects. (For example, you might challenge your ten-year-old to create a three-story building from recycled boxes, scissors, and tape.)
  • Encourage your child and her friends to do creative construction activities when they get together, as a fun alternative to screen time.
  • Set aside time to do collaborative building projects with your child, and include construction activities in your Family Creativity Night.

You read this far? Would you like this book? First reader to email me holiviero@ajc.com to tell me they want this book can have this $21.95 book for free! (I will mail it to you)

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