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Motivating Activities for Children

Many parents wish they had a ready-set-go-to list of activities to spark childrens’ engagement on weekends, rainy days, or any time! Ideally, this list would be full of experiences kids could share with family members and/or friends—activities that would inform, challenge, and stimulate children’s thinking and creativity; and that would be relatively easily for families to put in gear.

The following suggestions invite creative interaction, exploration, playfulness (structured and unstructured), and meaningful connections—all of which can be motivating, and can promote learning!

1. Invent

Examples include building structures, rudimentary robotics, making new things from old ones, or finding solutions to problems at home or in the community. Why not read stories about inventors or inventions? Or compose a letter to someone who has invented something cool!

2. Perform

There are lots of different kinds of performances. Consider plays, puppet shows, sing-alongs, improvs, gymnastics, karaoke, mime, and instrumentals. These could be solo performances, or ones done “in concert” with one or more people.

3. Be artistic

How many ways can children express creativity through the arts? Countless opportunities exist! For example, think about sculpting (sand, snow, clay); drawing (chalk, crayons, paints); dance (jazz, ballet, tap); music (voice, instruments, composition); writing (poetry, fairy tales, animal stories), and more!

Dr. Joanne Foster, Author, Advocate for Gifted Learning

4. Check out museums

Look into the many options, and visit virtually or, if possible, in person. You’ll discover museums that focus on all kinds of interesting things, such as butterflies, shoes, reptiles, airplanes, textiles, dinosaurs, and masks. What intrigues your child? See what museum exhibits feature their preferences. Displays often change. There are also children’s museums with lots of hands-on activities; history museums (for those who want to know how the past informs the present); aviaries (birds); greenhouses (flowers); and science museums with discovery experiences galore. Visit art galleries, too, and look at colours, lines, textures, subjects, and more.

5. What’s happening at the library?

Reading nooks? Meet the author events? New children’s books? Librarians’ recommendations? Young readers’ book clubs? Mystery sessions? Craft activities that relate to stories about pirates, or puppies, or pineapples…? All great—plus, reading aloud or quietly can open portals to exotic worlds and thought-provoking adventures!

6. Go shopping

Typical excursions might be shopping for groceries or clothing. But how about athletic equipment, hardware, furniture, antiques, electronics? Or shop for the makings of a great costume or a unique scrapbook. Why not scope out local fairs, craft shows, and markets?

7. Take a walk through the neighbourhood

Look closely at interesting buildings, playgrounds, nature, people, and whatever else captures your child’s attention or sparks their imagination. Or venture beyond your neighborhood and explore parks, woodlands, conservation areas, beaches, gardens, ponds, or meadows.

8. What’s cooking?

Bake and decorate; try new recipes; experiment with unfamiliar foods; do something different with whatever is in the fridge or pantry. Mix and mash. Cook, experiment, eat—and don’t forget to tidy up!
And finally…
Here are five tips to keep top-of-mind when your family is deciding on activities:

* Choice  *  Excitement  *  Relevance  *  Value  *  Fun

Remember, too, that activities should be manageable in order to be motivating. And, that learning can happen anytime and anywhere. Be open-minded, encouraging, take ample time to discuss ideas together, and get involved in co-creating or exploring possibilities!

Author’s Note:
This piece is updated from an article written by Dr. Joanne Foster that was featured in issues of Best Version Media’s Neighbours Magazines, and distributed across Ontario, Canada.

Check out the book Ignite Your Ideas: Creativity for Kids for additional exciting activities. For additional information, to sign up for the quarterly “Fostering Kids’ Success” newsletter.

Dr. Joanne Foster

Dr. Joanne Foster, an acclaimed author and educator, has dedicated over 35 years to gifted education and child development. With expertise in psychology and special education, her work empowers parents and educators, fostering creativity and high-level learning in children and teens.

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