In full disclosure, we were provided the Creativity Cans from Creativity for Kids in exchange for our honest review.
We have heard the term STEM to distinguish Science, Technology, Engineering and Math; however, many educators promote incorporating Art into this mix for a new term and philosophy called STEAM. With the incorporation of Art, we take STEM to STEAM and enrich our children’s lives even more. In order for technical fields to be successful, it requires the critical thinking skills that are promoted through the arts.
Creativity for Kids has imaginative activity products for children including The Creativity Cans. Established in 1978, the founders of this company identified the importance of children’s creativity when allowed to participate in open-ended play with different materials. The first Creativity Can was actually housed in a burlap bag and since then has evolved greatly but the underlying belief has remained the same. The instructions for the Creativity Cans are that there are no rules as children are invited to create.
At Mommy University, we are so excited to review some of the Creativity for Kids products because our values overlap as we also believe in learning through play. In the case of the Creativity Cans, this is open-ended play. We received four Creativity Cans, but for the purpose of the STEAM review, I am focusing on the Build, Motion, and Critter cans.
Mommy University Presents
Benefits of Creativity Cans
Enhance Fine Motor Skills
The Creativity Cans are identified for children ages 4 and older which targets an age that still requires practicing activities that can enhance their fine motor skills. In order to make the creatures in the Critters can, children have to manipulate small pieces of tape, paper accessories and, my favorite, glue. I was so impressed to see my daughter finesse glue to create her little critter. Making critters is not as easy as it looks and there are plenty of supplies packed into this compact can which gives plenty of possibilities. All the textures certainly offer children sensory feedback as they imagine their own critter.
Promotes Artistic Expression
As my children designed their own critters, I began to notice how they uniquely were expressing themselves. Artistic expression is critical for children as we have discussed in our post Drawing the Line: What Art Teaches our Children. As mentioned above, the Critter Can contains over 50 pieces so while my son was determined that his creature sported a moustache, my daughter was playing with the pom poms to make her character. Here is the beauty of art and the creativity cans: there is no wrong answer! What one child makes will not be the same of what another makes.
At first, your child might say what mine did, “I want to make the birdhouse” when they see the Build Creativity Can. Creativity for Kids does offer some samples on the outside of the cans to jumpstart the child’s imagination but your children will begin to change their minds and formulate their own products. For example, in the Motion Creativity Can, my children wanted to build a boat so we tinkered with different ideas. By tinkering, I would show them a piece of foam stick and paper and mention different ways they can be joined together. From there, my children invented their own boats. Only a few times did I intervene to talk about the possibilities when combining the different materials and a few times they showed me new ideas. Eventually both children created two different boats. They didn’t touch the cool pull back device to make a car but since we have so many pieces leftover I am not worried as we can always revisit what is left and create more things like the birdhouse.
Encourages Problem Solving
In each of the three cans, children are invited to create whether it is a critter, vehicle or building. The common pattern in all the cans is that there are no instructions so children have to devise their own plan to make what they imagine. As they begin to create their vision, it may not work. At first, admittedly, my children became frustrated. With a quick intervention of how there were other materials they could use, they changed their plans and looked for new solutions to the problems that surfaced. My daughter’s castle needed tape to hold some pieces together and my son’s boat could not use the foam stick to balance it but rather the colorful straw.
Introduction to STEAM
Creativity Cans such as Build, Critters and Motion, do share a common theme such as putting materials together to create or build an object. As they play with the material, they are testing theories of how the material can work together and then re-assessing if changes need to be made. Through trial and error, they are beginning to understand shapes, weight and material. They are developing skills to think outside the box which cannot be taught in a book. By understanding how to take things apart and put back together, they are developing skills that are far more reaching as they begin to understand how to persist.
On the top of each can it says “A big sense of achievement in a little can,” and Creativity for Kids is right. I think the Creativity Cans are amazing self-contained projects that children can enjoy. Due to the size and cost, these are perfect for rainy (or snow) day activities or gifts for friends. Watching my children become enthralled with their projects definitely inspired me to acquire more of these cans. While with the initial can it required more supervision, I noticed confidence building with each completed creature, vehicle or building they created.