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How to Be Even More Creative

Amy Nappa

8 ways to get your creative juices flowing.

If, as the author of Ecclesiastes says, there's nothing new under the sun, why do other people seem to come up with so many new and creative ideas for their children's programs?

In truth, there really are very few new ideas. Often the trick is to borrow someone else's idea and redesign it with a creative twist. Here are eight ways to be a savvy borrower so you can develop the best programming for kids in your ministry.

1. Skim magazines. Browse through magazines for women, children, crafters, and cooks. Photocopy interesting articles and try them out right away in your ministry.

2. File ideas you might use in the future. Collect ideas for crafts, games, recipes, activities, and so on. Even if you're not sure how you'll use an idea, save it for later reference.

3. Visit other groups. Observe several classes at local schools. Visit a children's club such as 4-H Club or scout troops. Check out what other churches are doing. Many teachers and group leaders will be glad to brag about their best ideas.

4. Look for new uses for ordinary objects. Open your kitchen drawers and take out any utensil. How many ways can this object be used besides its intended use? It could be a small rake or an art tool for making designs with finger paint. Aluminum pie plates might become cymbals, hats, or flying saucers.

Practice looking for new uses for ordinary objects wherever you go. What can you do with a length of weatherstripping? Or what can a bag of shredded paper from the office trash become? Jot down your ideas and add them to your files.

5. Brainstorm with others. Get together with one or two people and open up your files. Say, "I've got a great article on using balloons in science projects here. How can we relate this to any of our upcoming lessons or activities?" Don't frown on any idea. Instead, try to add to it or modify it until you come up with a great new idea that everyone says "yes!" to.

6. Watch kids play. Stop by a park and see what games kids invent as they play. A new way to play Red Light, Green Light may've just been created in your neighborhood and you're the first one to know the rules! Then consider how you can use these fresh thoughts in your programming.

7. Talk to kids. This may seem obvious-you work with kids all the time. But kids are creative without even trying to be. Include a few kids on a "looking at things a new way" adventure. Make a game out of discovering the most outrageous uses for simple items. Ask kids what they think about your current programming. How could it be better? What do they like and dislike? If they were in charge, what would they do differently (besides having ice cream each week)? Take their input seriously. These kids are your best critics and most creative allies.

8. Make lessons multisensory. You might not be able to get your kids into the belly of a big fish but cramming together under a draped table during the story might add to the effect. Hearing about Jesus lying on a bed of hay takes on a different meaning when kids sit in a pile of itchy, poky, straw. Visualizing the 5,000 people Jesus fed is a lot easier if your lesson takes place in the center of a stadium.

Just a final word of encouragement: The more you practice being creative, the easier it gets. There are no limits!

Amy Nappa is the creative co-author of 52 Fun Family Devotions (Augsburg Fortress Publishing).



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