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Create Kits - Encouraging Discovery and Exploration

Children gain creative confidence through positive reinforcement. Using these creative challenge kits together as a family, parents can curate opportunities for creativity and learning, while encouraging discovery and exploration.

Photo of Alaine Newland
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The ultimate goal of Create Kits is to encourage parents to practice creativity and learning on a regular basis with their children. From a young age kids will learn to think creatively and critically. Within this safe learning environment, they will see that there's no such thing as creative "failure", only a step towards new discovery, and that anyone can be creative if they want to be.

By encouraging children to practice their creativity on a regular basis, we can help them to can gain confidence in their creative abilities, and throughout these explorations they can discover what type of creatives they might be later in life. 

With Create Kits, parents facilitate interactive projects that encourages all types of creative exploration - from painting and drawing to science and engineering. The projects can be completed using supplies found around the house or neighborhood so that anyone can be creative without having to purchase specialty items. 

Create Kits encourage the kids to put away the video games and spend a Saturday discovering color theory through autumn leaves or an afternoon building a seismically sound pillow fort.

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UPDATE 2
We had a wonderful brainstorm session last week. Many thanks to the inspiring and thoughtful people who took an evening to contribute to this idea. I am going to summarize some of the content that was generated during our session, and also interweave how this relates back to some of the excellent feedback we are receiving in the comments below.

- These kits need to be about allowing the kids to find creative solutions to interesting problems, rather than the kits being complete questions plus answers at the same time. They will be most successful when it's open ended - solve a question with any materials found, or use specific materials to solve an open-ended question - but never both. For example, create a rainbow using things you find in nature. Conversely, use these five specific materials to build the tallest tower compared to your friends.

- We debated at length whether the kits should be online or physical and the consensus was that it could be a hybrid solution. The kits could exist in an online database that is accessible to the kids and parents whenever they want a project, but there can also be a subscription program where parents or communities can request a physical kit to be delivered for a fee if they want extra special projects or if they want projects with materials provided. One person in the brainstorm and someone in the comments suggested a platform similar to Tom's with a one-to-one donation structure, so that if a parent purchases a kit, we could send a kit to a community/family that might not have otherwise afforded it. Also, perhaps the kits are only delivered monthly but the database is available anytime supplementally in between. If families can't subscribe, we can recreate the excitement of a delivery with a custom project of the month emailed to them based on customized preferences and feedback at the end of their projects. We loved the idea of offering a custom suggestion to keep them interested and engaged as they continue to learn about a creative topic.   Regardless, we all agreed that regular post-project feedback is very important to help us keep up with how successful the kits are, and to evaluate project quality. 

- We briefly touched on the idea of themed kits, such as a detective kit, or a great outdoors kit, if kids want to try something super specific. This would be part of the physical subscription that might arrive with special supplies to make it extra engaging.

-  Creating general project guidelines is a good way to ensure that projects are consistent in such a way that creativity can thrive while parents remain in control of facilitation. So for example, We never ask parents to track down more than 5 supplies, projects should generally be completed in less than an hour (?), there are never more than 5 steps for parents to push forward. While the idea of these limitations might feel stifling at first, we want to consider the feelings of parents so that they are always eager and willing to run these projects regularly. If we make the projects too complicated or stressful, parents will be less likely to encourage their kids to try new projects. And just like any brand, it's good to have guidelines for consistency that people can recognize and count on.

- We discussed barriers and difficulties with getting these projects out to low-income families. We tend to take for granted how much the internet assists with marketing new ideas. It will be a real challenge to get this idea out to low-income families  or global communities  without internet. We thought that a great way to get this project into the hands of families and communities could be through the programs that provide other supportive services for the kids - such as in the US: Big Brother/Big Sister, CASA, Red Cross, United Way, SNAP, Medicaid, or globally: Global Children Foundation, ACEI, KinderCare, GPE Fund, etc. 

- We chatted about other collaborative opportunities that could grow out of this idea, such as creative penpalling with global friends developed through the online forum, creative story co-writing across the planet, etc. 

- Ideas for beta projects to prototype that don't require initial materials but are fun to test and photograph - (1)  Madlibs – Fill in the story of getting to mars (presupplied) – NOW WHAT - either draw your story / build your spaceship home using 5 materials found around your house  (2) build a device using materials from around the house that keeps an egg from cracking after an eight foot fall  

CREATE KITS ELEMENTS FOR ENGAGEMENT
When building a new mobile app or website, one should always develop a user journey. This involves considering how someone accesses information and then structuring the user experience by building out from the known to the unknown. I would like to cite boxesandarrows.com for an excellent introduction the user journey, which I have reappropriated for my guidelines for success. ( http://boxesandarrows.com/an-introduction-to-user-journeys/). I am using their suggested "hooks" for content engagement as guidelines for success.

- Actionable Content - all projects should inspire the kids to create something unique and original. The directions are easy to follow but are open-ended and can result in an unlimited number of creative solutions.

- Visualizations - kit instructions include drawings or graphics that assist the kids in getting started with their projects. They shouldn't be so specific that the kids are lead to any specific conclusions, but they should help to clarify confusing parts of the process.

- Capturing the process - we should encourage the kids to keep track of both their process and their final deliverable. There would be space on the forum for them to easily share photos and drawings of their creative thinking.

- Obstacles to success - Consider addressing any barriers that might upset or confuse the kids during the process and encourage them to work around them in their own ways.

- End Goals - Remind the kids that the end goal, when all is said and done, is to be creative. The final reward is enjoying themselves while interacting in new ways and it's the journey through the process that is valued over the final product.

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UPDATE 3
Further exploring the User Journey, I wanted to touch on the key moments that the parents and/or kids might need to come into contact with the kits in order for the product to succeed.

- Awareness & Distribution - Local/International organizations suggesting the kits to families, communities and clients as a way to increase kid's creativity; organizations providing them to communities/schools/libraries; big brothers, big sisters using kits during mentorships;  one-to-one model as families subscribe to physical kits low-income families get a kit

- Purchasing - through website or perhaps catalogs available in schools; libraries in remote communities could keep kits that are available on loan for families to borrow and return (though potentially only certain kits would have reusable supplies so we'd have to think in advance about this)

- Play - Kids would receive everything they needed to complete the creative exercise within the kits, whether it's simply the instructions downloadable from the website or a physical kit packaged with tools and materials to assist in the process.

- Share - We encourage kids to utilize online platform by sharing images of their process, including photos of themselves creating and of their final creations; we encourage parents to reach out and support each other in the process so that there is a global network of families encouraging creativity for their children, offering tips & tricks and answering questions as they arise

- Evaluate and Grow - always improving and growing, we would have the kids fill out surveys and feedback on the kits after each use. This is to ensure that we improve upon the kits each time we output but we could also use the feedback to customize kits for the kids in a subscription format.

*New* Refinement question: What will the future look like with your idea in it?

So many kids dream of being firemen or the president or a princess when they grow up. These are fine goals but they are abstract dreams based on idolizations. I imagine a future where kids have explored creatively from a young age and discovered their interests and passions - they no longer have to dream in the abstract and they have found what they truly want to do when they grow up through trial and error.

I imagine a future of highly inspired creative entrepreneurs who aren't afraid to fail because they started exploring and trying new things from a very young age. We will have a world of confident, excited doers who go directly out into the world to execute their dreams.

And it's ok if they still want to be firemen when they grow up, but they've also found that they love to draw. Or they discovered that they love to build things and they honed their skills in engineering when they were young and our future has some of the most specialized and concentrated generation we've ever seen because they've taken the time to get to know themselves.

In this challenge, we want to create ideas with young people, not for them. Outline how you’re planning to involve young people or other end-users (parents, teachers, etc) in designing, iterating or testing your idea during the Ideas phase.

Ideas for initial projects might originally be sourced from schools and students. We would gather feedback from students on their favorite projects and how they gained creative confidence through participating in these activities. Classrooms could collaborate in video tutorials for the website.

How might you envision your idea spreading across geographies or cultures so that it inspires young people around the world to cultivate their creative confidence?

It would be wonderful if after the initial launch of a solid Create Kits database, the projects could open to a crowd sourced platform. Kids could load creative project ideas that they invented or tried themselves in school and would like to share with other people. People from anywhere in the world could load a project idea, and this would generate an extremely dynamic database of project ideas that represent what creativity means to kids around the globe.

There is also something very rewarding for kids about sharing creativity when they feel comfortable, so Create Kits could have a gallery where kids could share their process and end products with each other, connecting through their creativity on a global level.

What skills, input or guidance would you like to receive from the OpenIDEO community to help you build out or refine your idea further?

Prototyping this out and seeing exactly what is included in the kit would be very helpful - would it be best if it's just a document that is downloaded with instructions and a list of supplies that anyone, anywhere could use? Or would it be more rewarding if an actual kit arrived in the mail with interactive items that genuinely inspired creativity? I'd be interested to hash this out.

I'd also love to connect with a programmer who could help with a potentially open-platform database.

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Photo of Daniel
Team

I think that the design of these kits should be focused on a goal or outcome with many different solutions. I think that if kids are presented with a goal, but are offered no specific way to tackle the challenge of getting to that goal, they will be able to apply their creativity naturally.

I think that activities like this brought out my own creativity growing up. For example, when tasked with the challenge to drop an egg off of a roof and prevent it from cracking with a random set of materials, I remember all of the submissions were all over the place. Some people made parachutes, some made padded bottoms, and some just wrapped it up with several rolls of tape. It's challenges like these that give kids a problem to solve, while allowing them the freedom to create the solution themselves.

Photo of Alaine
Team

Daniel I LOVED this challenge growing up! I would definitely include this project in the kits. Thank you so much for suggesting it!! It's a great example of kids finding a unique creative path to solve a problem. There's no fixed outcome, just a solution.

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