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A great deal of thinking goes into creating each new activity I write about. I have to ask myself many questions in order to guarantee the activities I create are fun, safe, and adapted to the capacities of the children they are conceived for. Sometimes, certain adjustments are necessary during the creative process in order to produce an extraordinary end result.
You may already know this, but I absolutely love creating unique activities and games for children. I love turning random ideas and everyday items into activities and games. However, I must confess: my children are my main source of inspiration. I encourage you to do the same. Simply watching children play will give you access to their natural creativity as well as help you discover their main interests. Children are fascinating!
You may be wondering where I am going with all of this. I have decided to share my "activity creation" secrets with you. Below, you will find a summary of the main steps I follow when, seated in front of my computer screen, I set out to create new activities to share with you.
Step 1: Who is the game or activity for? What are the children's developmental characteristics?
The first thing to do is to determine the ages of the children the game or activity will be designed for. What are their developmental capacities? After all, an activity designed for a two-year-old will be very different than an activity created for a five-year-old. Both the way the game or activity will be presented and its demands will have to be different. However, a game or activity can be adapted to suit a group of children of different ages, providing you are aware of the developmental characteristics associated with each age group. Having a global idea of the expectations you may have for each child depending on his/her age will be very helpful.
Step 2: What do I want to work on? What is the goal of the game or activity?
Once you have determined the age group your game or activity will be for, you must decide what you want to work on. Each game or activity should have a single goal. Of course, games often make working on several aspects possible, but for your creative process, you should have a single goal in mind and emphasize it as much as possible. When we choose to work on many goals at the same time, results tend to be less obvious. It is much easier to measure results in terms of a single goal.
Step 3: Which area of childhood development will your game or activity focus on?
As in the previous steps, recognizing the area of childhood development that your game or activity will focus on is important. Working on different areas of childhood development is important to ensure you are offering a complete program and a variety of activities that will keep children interested and wanting more. Keep in mind that children are all different. For this reason, presenting a wide range of activities will guarantee that you will fulfill their individual needs and interests. Your game or activity may involve several different areas of childhood development, but there will always be one "main area". This is the area of childhood development that you must consider during your creative process. Make sure that you offer activities for all areas of childhood development during any given week. Of course, alternating the types of activities and the areas of development they are related to is ideal.
Step 4: Will children be able succeed? How can I adapt my game or activity?
This is an important question that will impact the success or failure of your game or activity. If children are unable to complete your game or activity, they will get discouraged and give up. They must be able to do what they are asked to do in order to work on the ability the game or activity focuses on and learn from it. You must be able to find a happy medium between their present capacities and offering small challenges. Furthermore, if an activity must be adapted for younger children or children experiencing difficulty, you must determine how this can be done. Be prepared so you won't be caught off guard.
Step 5: What types of material will I need?
When preparing a game or activity, you must be sure to have all the required material. For example, photocopy any documents you many need and pre-cut any shapes or models if necessary. This will guarantee you will have everything you need on hand.
So there you have it. You now know my secrets and are therefore able to prepare and present activities for your group. This process may seem simple, but believe me, it is essential. With time, you will become familiar with the steps and therefore be able to create activities much faster.
Have fun creating!
Maude Dubé, Specialized child educator
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