Improving creativity and creative thinking in kids with simple toys

by Mary Ann on April 21, 2011

Buzz light year woody pictures

Who plays, the toys or the boys?

When my grandson Jack was two he fell in love. Really in love! He was in love with Toy Story and its two main characters, Buzz Lightyear and Woody. I am amazed at how he can quote things from the movie. He doesn’t get to watch videos very much but he is certainly a quick study.


Well, Jack did not have a Buzz or a Woody so he did what children through all the ages have done when they needed a toy. He created them. Woody was actually a small doll and Buzz was a snowman. What they actually looked like didn’t bother Jack one bit. He loved his Woody and Buzz and he played with them all the time. He flew Buzz through the air yelling “to infinity and beyond!” He raced Woody to save the day, all around the house, yelling “Woody to the rescue”.

You could hear Jack making up situations for the two heroes to solve and the dialog that each had to say. He made all the boy noises you can imagine, rocket boosters, laser guns, speeding horses, damsels in distress, you name it. These simple home made toys helped Jack to use some critical thinking abilities. They allowed him to be creative. That is a great example of how simple toys allow creativity and creative thinking in children?

Then Jack had a birthday, his third birthday. It was a wonderful day with friends dropping by and relatives calling. There was cake and ice cream and balloons. It was fun. And then someone gave him a real Buzz and Woody. He was so excited.

Buzz made all the important sounds. He talked and had a real red laser light. He even had wings, just like in the movie.  Woody talked too. Amazing!

Here is what I want to get to. Jack isn’t as in love as he was. He still plays with Woody and Buzz but the play is very different. He makes up fewer situations to be solved. After all, the dialogue of the dolls determines the situation. He makes fewer sounds. He doesn’t need to, the dolls do it. And his play is fraught with more frustration. He can’t quite figure out all the bells and whistles.

Watching Jack play with his made up Buzz and Woody was so fun. He was a riot. However, we all felt a little sorry that he didn’t have the real thing. Yet, now that he does we can see that it was even more fun for him when his playmates were a small doll named Woody and a snow man named Buzz.

Here are some other ways of encouraging creativity and creative thinking in children

Image Courtesy for Isabelle:

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