Like the television, the home computer can become an electronic babysitter for busy parents. While children play online, parents grab the opportunity to catch up on chores, cook dinner, or pay the bills. But educators counsel that young people learn best when parents participate in their children’s “screen time.” In response, staff members from EDC’s Center for Children & Families and PBS have teamed up to develop a Web site for parents and children to use together that promotes creativity and adult-child interaction.
Designed for parents and caregivers of children up to age 9, PBS Parents Guide to Creativity features 14 online games for parents and children to play together. “The site is designed so parents can see their child’s creativity in action,” says site co-developer Christine Rafal of EDC. “It’s meant to help parents learn more about their child’s creative development. There are many computer games with educational value, but this site is unique in that it allows parents to understand how a game supports creative thinking and provides ideas for parents to support creativity themselves.”
The activities on the site are organized into three sections that correspond to different domains of creative thinking. “Sensory Stuff” invites open-ended exploration of color, pattern, and design. Sample activities include constructing a virtual kaleidoscope and painting with Matisse-inspired cutouts. “Ideas and Explorations,” promotes self expression through such activities as composing Haikus, designing murals, and composing and recording music on a pentatonic scale. “Creativity Challenge” sharpens problem solving skills with puzzle-like activities. For example, the Plumbing Pro asks players to assemble disparate parts of a pipe so water can flow from a faucet to a drain. In Shadowcasting, children get a chance to combine several pairs of hand shapes; the related information for parents contains links to the shadowcasting artwork of Tim Noble and Sue Webster.
Like the shadowcasting activity, each of the 14 online games is accompanied by additional resources for parents. In addition, a “Try at Home” link offers a printable list of activities for parents to do with their children when they’re not on the computer. The extensive list includes arranging a bouquet of flowers, watching the night sky, and mood-dancing. “We hope the site will give parents an opportunity to deepen their understanding of how their children think, while also exercising their own creativity,” says Rafal.
Originally published on October 1, 2005