Tuesday, September 20, 2016

5 Tips for Encouraging After School Creativity





Now that we're a month into school, we've settled into a pretty good routine but I do miss the summer days when Stella and Hazel had more time to play and be creative. Now they're more apt to sit in front of the TV than want to head to their playroom after a long day of school, and it's really still too hot here in San Antonio to enjoy playing outside. I've been thinking of simple ways to incorporate a little creative time during the short hours between getting home from school and getting ready for bed.

Last week we had the opportunity to try out Bunchems Alive for the first time. It's a product Stella and Hazel have oohed and aahed over ever since they saw them advertised on TV! Well, they weren't disappointed once they got to try out Bunchems firsthand. Read on to see how we shook up our usual after-school routine with some creative "making" and the 5 things I'm starting to do at home to encourage after-school creativity!




If you aren't familiar with Bunchems, they are colorful little balls that stick to each other to build whatever you can dream up. They remind me of my favorite fluffy pom-poms! It is amazing what you can create with these little guys. Here's one of Stella's creations. How sweet is that?!


Each Bunchem has a little hole on one side that allows you to add all sorts of accessories like eyeballs, mustaches, and hats!


The Bunchems Alive action pack also includes a motorized ball that you build around and instantly brings any of your creations to life - just set it down and watch it go. The girls built a moving octopus and a silly mustached bird. Head over to Instagram to see it in action!


Stella and Hazel had a blast playing with the Bunchems Alive kit. It was a welcome break from watching "So You Think You Can Dance - The Next Generation" (my girls have watched each episode an embarrassing number of times!). Here is how I hope to incorporate more creative play like Bunchems into our after-school routine:


How to Encourage After School Creativity


1. Set it Out in Advance

I set out the Bunchems Alive kit on the table and had it ready for Stella and Hazel once they got home from school. It doesn't have to be a new toy to get them excited. I've found that if I dig up some art supplies, a puzzle, or a game that hasn't been played in awhile and set it out for them they are much more likely to play with it than if it was on a shelf in their toy room.


2. Feed Them First!

I just had to throw this one in there - at least my kids don't want to do much after school until they've had a snack! It helps give them a second wind and makes them more likely to want to do something creative before dinner time. It's always nice to get any homework out of the way early too!

3. Keep it Simple

Anything too complicated or involved and my kids won't have the staying power at the end of the day. I loved the Bunchems because you can make something as simple or as elaborate as you want, and it is still so fun. Hazel made this winged heart and it was the cutest thing I've ever seen!


Some of their silliest creations came from using just a few Bunchems and accessorizing them to make these little guys:


4. Sit Down with Them

While I'm usually busy rummaging through the girls' backpacks and thinking about dinner, I also try to spend at least a few minutes sitting down and creating with them. Stella and Hazel wanted to build this monkey that is included with the Bunchems Mega Pack instructions, so we worked on this one together. I was hooked! Having the activity set out near the kitchen also helps so you can get involved with multi-tasking on dinner. ;)



5. Switch it Up

Rotate the types of creative activities you set out to keep it fresh. One day it might be Bunchems, another day it might be glitter glue and stickers, another day a board game. Just the act of setting something out that they haven't played with in awhile has been successful for us - and having them engage in something creative in addition to their TV watching makes me feel like a better mom. ;)


Bunchems was awarded the 2016 Toy of the Year Award for Activities! If you're interested in trying the Bunchems Mega Pack and Bunchems Alive kits, you can find more info here. One safety note: You'll want to keep your children's hair pulled back and away from their face when playing with Bunchems - here's a quick safety video. It also works best to build with them on a tabletop rather than fibrous surfaces like carpet.

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of CLEVER and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

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