Signs of Creativity

My “job” takes me to learning environments of all shapes and sizes. Usually the signs I see resemble rules to be followed and a series of don’ts or other things to avoid.
Last week, I was delighted to turn a corner and see a sign posted on a door that read “Are you a Dreamer? Come in, come in!”

Signs are ever prevalent in the lives of human beings. They tell us what to do, what rules to follow, what direction to go, what brand of detergent to buy, and even how we should act as parents. For young children they are great outlets for learning print concepts, letter recognition, and making connections. But beyond all that, can they also be an avenue for creative development?

Inviting creativity into our homes and our lives, is in many ways a symbolic action. We may not be as explicit as posting an actual invitation stating, “Please Come to My Creativity Party” but the words we surround our selves and our children with, will certainly encourage creativity to emerge.

Signs can also be used as affirmations in your home. Guide your children in creating their own affirmations for their own creativity. Try signs such as “I am creative”, or “I create”. Make a special magnet to hold creative works that says, “ Look what Sally Made!”

Leave notes and “signs” around the house
A packet of post-it notes can be among the simplest, yet most fulfilling signage tools in your creative home. Leave little notes for one another like “Kisses 4 U” or “Happy Day!” Use stickers or pictures for your pre and early readers to create a Rebus sign. Tuck them in books, lunch boxes, on mirrors, or on the top step of the bunk bed to keep the creative surprise going. And take it even further, by leaving notes for others who may stumble across them: the fairies, dragons, or other magical and mythical creatures your children may have formed a special relationship with.

Communication systems
Open and closed signs around the house and affiliated with certain activities can be a valuable tool if you want to put limits on what can be done when. Flipping over a sign on the computer, TV, or other high frequency and stimulating areas can be a good form of silent-non-arguable communication. Color-code your signs for early or pre readers so everyone in the house can be in on the communication system! One mother of two young boys, has a running rule that after a certain time in the evening, the “kitchen is closed”. Her boys were often asking, “Is the kitchen open yet?” They found it exciting and novel to make an open and closed sign for Mom to turn over when the kitchen entered each stage in the day. Make labels for household items, or your own open and closed signs for specific rooms. But don’t stop there. Signs can be unique part of your child’s creative play.

Incorporate Play
As children engage in different types of play, such as simulations, encourage them to add signs to their make-believe restaurants, banks, train stations and lemonade stands. Consider also labeling items such as refrigerator, door, chair, and other items around your home in order to increase the opportunities for seeing print. This is also a good opportunity to introduce print in a second or third language.

Play with Signs
As you make your own signs around your own home, in your own environment, your children will likely begin to notice them more outside of the home. As you drive around and encounter billboards and other signage in your town, get talking about what else could be happening in the picture. Play I wonder… games and use signs and pictures to tell stories. Often ads/billboards play on words and their meanings. Explore puns and make up new ones.

As children use words, write them themselves, and express their creativity through using labels and making signs, accept their own unique spellings that emerge. Encourage risk taking in spelling by reserving judgment about the way words are written. Be aware of development appropriateness in varied spellings. But also be aware that some children will thrive more and take more risks when they have you modeling. as children need to consistently hear language that is above their reading level, so do they need to be able to record stories and other means of language that is above their writing level. So if your child asks you to write the sign for them, encourage the independence to do it themselves, but don’t be afraid to take dictation for a while. Like all things, find the balance when you can.

As you ponder the question, “Are you a dreamer?” Don’t just cross the threshold of your creative home with your feet. Spread your wings, and fly in, fly in!


Lauri said...

I love that stop sign! And the reference to the Shel Silverstein poem "If you are a dreamer".

Great post!