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Spark Creativity in Leaders

"Life is more fun when you play games," Roald Dahl once wrote.

To raise a creative, original, and independent child - a leader and an influencer who thinks outside the box - it is necessary that the child has time to daydream, and to play. Every minute shouldn’t be filled with activities, homework, chores. A child should learn to be alone (which is necessary to let ideas percolate and foster creativity), but should also have time to play with others, which teaches children social interaction (animals use playful games to learn how to deal with conflict and group communication).

The Duke of Wellington said that “… the Battle of Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Eton.” Play is training for life. Schools should not cut recess time, teach just for testing, and minimize art and music classes. According to a recent Joan Ganz Cooney Center report, teachers who play are more likely to bring joy into their classrooms,

Engaging in games helps children with concentration, setting goals, and problem-solving, as well as helping them collaborate (many games allow multiple players), persevere, and celebrate achieving goals. Many games, and mazes in particular, help children learn decision-making and critical thinking skills. They make them think ahead and plan steps in advance. Mazes teach alternative ways to solve problems and judge spatial relationships. For younger children, they help develop fine motor skills; for older children, maneuvering through mazes improves handwriting. Game formats are particularly suited to reluctant readers, boys, and special needs children. And they’re fun!

People don’t always think of print books as being interactive, or using games, but they are and they do. I write mainly nonfiction and concept books, as well as interactive apps. To engage children and keep them interested, and to impart information in a fun way, much of my work uses a form of “gamification”: lift-the-flap, mazes, guessing games, inside-outside concepts, search-n-find, ABCs and numbers, puzzles, matching games, hidden objects, word/noun object recognition, and so forth. Many subjects lend themselves to these game-like interactive formats. You can learn about a person, an animal, a historical period, science, a place, or even a fictional character…

In my books using “gamification,” I’ve taught children ABCs and numbers, and about birds, snakes, and bugs and their habitats; children have learned about ecosystems and dinosaurs and the space station and where food comes from. Two of my maze game apps allow multiple players - great for collaboration and leadership. The giant walk-in KIWi Storybooks have interactive apps (with Q&A multiple choices, matching games, video-making, more) as well as skits and plays that many children can be involved in at the same time.

Think about the creative ways that your children can have fun, and also be taught … using games and play keeps them engaged, motivated, collaborating, and learning!


Children, in the Q&A part of my school visits, have asked, "How do you make them [the illustrations] so beautiful?" That is the point: children understand, appreciate, and deserve decent art. We should not "talk down" to them. We should not give them generic, simple, or computerized "visuals," usually full of bright colors, just because they are children. Young people recognize and deserve to be exposed to quality, carefully-executed art.

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