For youngsters today, taking part in the world of technology is just as natural as breathing. For better or for worse, we’re living in a heavily mediated world these days, and the best way to make sure that your kids don’t become inactive couch-potatoes or naive media-soaking-sponges is to teach them creativity and critical thinking through media literacy. “Media literacy” is an understanding of how media is produced and it is an essential skill for children of the digital era. If you’re looking for fun ways to promote creativity, active play and critical thinking skills in your mini digital gurus, here are some out-of-the-box ideas to get your kids involved in technology while bolstering their creativity.
1. Organize a Geocaching Treasure Hunt
Geocaching has become today’s hippest way to embark on a treasure hunt – so why not get your kids involved in this digital version of an old-fashioned treasure hunt? To get started, all you need is a GPS device. With a basic membership through Geocaching (you can join the community for free) you can begin your journey of hiding and seeking a cache. Just type in your zip code, and the site will offer you a list of possible geocaches in your area; choose one, type the coordinates into your GPS device, and get hunting. When your kids find the geocache, they can sign the logbook and return it to its original location. You can also share your geocaching stories and photos online, helping your kids understand and connect with their fellow global citizens. This is a really great way to expose your kids to an important technology of the future, while at the same time getting them outside for a hike in the fresh air.
2. Help Your Kids Tell Their Stories Online
Helping your kids create their own media not only fosters their creativity, but also helps them learn to express themselves and develop technological literacy from a young age. Getting your kids involved in the right kind of technology early on can help them step into this new electronic age on the right foot. Have relatives or friends that live too far to visit or talk to regularly? Pose a blog or a vlog challenge to your kids, and help them learn to tell their stories online. Read our post - Digital Storytelling 101: How Kids Can Use Technology to Tell Their Stories Online – for more ideas.
3. Get Your Kids Digging In The Dirt
Planting some green thumb ideas in your kids’ minds will not only challenge them to think critically, but also influence their appreciation for food and its origins from a young age. Present your kids with a gardening challenge. They can be part of the entire process, from choosing the type of seeds they want to plant to learning how to nurture the growth of their garden. The Windowfarms Project offers packages that include all the necessary materials to grow a garden in your house year-round in a really fun and functional way. Windowfarms even offer educational sets for developing indoor gardening projects at school. To help your kids learn and remember to care for their seedlings as they grow, introduce them to Botanicalls. Once the kit is “installed” in your potted plant, Botanicalls creates a connection between your leafy friend and Twitter, sending status updates to your phone when it’s in need of care. So, when the plant needs water, it will literally call you for help, and your kids can get to watering their green garden.
4. Start a Digital Scrapbook
Scrapbooking is one of the best ways to get your kids thinking creatively all the time, and there are tons of apps out there that make it easy and fun for your kids to collage on the go. Digital Scrapbook Artist is a free application offered by SerifSoftware that is a favorite among many digital scrapbookers. Get your kids going with this easy to follow video tutorial explaining the basic skills of how to start from a blank page. Then, give them a topic idea, and set them free to see what collaged masterpieces they can create. For more creative art projects, check out our post on Eco Art Projects for Green Kids.
5. Help Your Kids Make & Produce Their Own Music
Kids are always more inclined than adults to get up and dance uninhibited, enjoying the beat of their favorite music. So, why not help them start making their own tunes that get them on their feet and shaking their tail feathers? With downloadable software from UCreate, your kids can basically become DJs, laying down beats and even adding their own voice to parts of the songs they create. Challenge your little musicians to put on an EP release show for you and their friends, to showcase their very own original tracks.