Inspiring creativity in all children, and especially those with disabilities, is a wonderful goal for all providers and teachers. However, time demands often make this is lofty goal to achieve in the classroom. So I would like to mention several wonderful Apps that anyone can use at home or in school to help children play, think and work more creatively.
Faces iMake - Right Brain Creativity by iMagine Machine is an App for creating collages from pictures of every-day objects. It teaches kids to look at the world around them in a new way, and to find and use playful visual metaphors as they create playful faces. Imagine using a banana as a nose or a potato as an ear when creating the image of a face. The capacity to understand and apply metaphors to shapes while ignoring their predesigned name and function is a great 'right brain' activity and one that can bolster creativity skills in all children.
A recent addition to Faces iMake is FACEWORLD - a virtual space where users create together, modify and improve each other’s artwork in a game-like environment. For example, a user can create a face, upload it to FaceWorld and within minutes someone on the other side of the county, can download it to their own iPad, modify it and upload a new version to appear next to the original. While still playful, the App encourages creative collaboration between kids.
Felt Board by Software Smoothie App has been carefully designed to encourage open-ended creative play. While it's impossible to include every imaginable prop or costume a child might imagine in one place, the developers of this App tried to include a wide variety of character combinations, facial expressions, settings and props to cover themes that will inspire children to build original or modified creations.
As kids often do in their play, one object can be used to represent another. For instance, the wooden sword in a Felt Board can be used as flagpoles on the pirate ship, or arms for snowmen in a winter scene. The developer’s kept the interface as simple as possible, with limited sound effects and other distractions, so that all of the creative work is done in the mind of the child. This can be ideal for children with autism who often work best in visual environments with fewer distractions and noises.
The backgrounds, costumes, accessories and characters in Felt Board are kept in separate categories, not only as a way to organize the App, but also to encourage children to explore the different themes by mixing and matching references. What happens when a pirate character and a pig land on the moon together? How different is the princess's story if she is placed in the dark woods as opposed to a sunny meadow? Imaginative play in childhood is a key building block for future innovation and creative problem solving as an adult. A child who can transform a wooden sword into a flagpole might become an adult who can think outside of the box.
Toca Boca, the leading digital toy developer, recently released Toca Tailor, a mobile App that sparks creativity and imagination in children ages four years and older through the design of outfits. The App offers a seemingly limitless palette of colors, fabrics and patterns with which to work. Wardrobes come together through mixing and matching 24 different fabrics and patterns, playing with color combinations, adjusting hemlines and sleeve lengths and adding personal, signature touches along the way. The App also includes a camera feature that allows users to bring real-world surroundings into the design studio.
Whether you are a teacher, provider, parent or caregiver of a young child, you will find that all of these Apps can help unlock a child’s creativity and desire to play. They might unlock yours as well!