Each day you have many opportunities to be creative. Do you respond in the same way you always have? Is this safe and predictable? If you use your creative capabilities, you can try new options, respond in interesting ways, and feel more confident in your abilities to deal with difficult challenges.

Trying new things and being adventurous while discovering initiative approaches can be scary! There is always the possibility that your idea will not work. But the good news is it can work and produce exciting results you had never imagined.

Early Childhood Educators are some of the most creative people I have ever known. But, most of these amazing educators don’t view themselves as being creative. I want you to recognize that YOU ARE CREATIVE and you can become even more creative in 2024.

For the next few months, I will be sending you “Creative Sparks” that you can use in your classroom or at home. Each of these suggestions will be short and easy to do, but they will help you discover how many great ideas you have when you stimulate your thinking and implement the innovative possibilities!

Creative thinking will build your reservoir of exciting ways to live and work. It will enhance your confidence in your ability to respond to unique happenings. It will help you find your creativity you have been simmering for too long. It will relieve your stress of doing the right thing and help you feel more powerful!

Make 2024 the year for a more Creative You – and to be able to meet your new challenges!

The International Storytelling Center in Jonesborough, TN, just celebrated its 50th year of the Storytelling Festival. It was the perfect October weekend to have thousands of folks listen to stories under the big white tents scattered through the oldest town in Tennessee. I am indeed lucky to live in this beautiful town where the storytelling movement began.

Early in my life, I was blessed to have a father who told wonderful stories: Uncle Remus, Classic Tales, and his personal stories. He embedded in me a great love for stories told and their power to entertain and teach.

When I began thinking about my research for my dissertation, I already had a question I wanted to answer, “How do stories told or read impact the Oral Language of Young Children?” My research helped me realize that both reading and telling to young children positively impact their story sense, expand vocabulary, and help them understand the meaning of the story (moral). But storytelling has unique benefits that strengthen story comprehension, including remembering the sequence of events and inviting engagement with the story.

The children who had their stories told could better retell the stories – a measure of their story comprehension. Twenty years later I replicated the research with different 3–5-year-old children and had very similar results. Of course, we should read a book every day to young children, but we should also enrich their language experiences during these critical early years by adding stories told.  Find a great story, with a few characters, and repeated phrases so children can join in and help you tell the story. They will ask you to tell it again, and again.

Original Stories Created by Young Children”

Let’s talk about stories. What are some of your favorite stories? What do we need to include in our story creation?

Setting: Where does the story take place?

Characters: Who do you want to include?

What is going to happen in our story? (sequence)

What can we learn from the story? (moral)

In a collaborative group, we begin to create our story. Once there was…

…and the story continues. Each child in the group can add their own element, sound effects, or repeated phrases as we progress around the circle. Any child can pass if he is not ready to add anything. But, always return to that child later so he can contribute when he is more confident. Provide supportive comments as the children provide their addition:

  • Interesting idea…
  • Tell me more…
  • What happened next?
  • Can you add sounds?
  • What happens after that?
  • What if…?
  • How did…happen?
  • You are so creative when you say…

Teacher directions: Have paper or a technology device so you can record the words the children use in the story. This story can be reread later or told again. The story can be revised and refined another day with those who are interested in the story development. Some children may want to draw illustrations or dramatize the story as they expand their interest. Children who have heard stories read and told love to create their own intriguing stories.

My hope is that you catch the storytelling bug! You will experience the intensive interest the children demonstrate when you tell the story.

It has been a busy time with schools and centers opening and getting started with professional training. It has been wonderful to return to live and onsite Conferences and to be with “real” early childhood educators. As I travel from Amarillo TX, to Florence, KY, and on to Jonesboro, AR, at each conference I was reminded why I went into the early childhood profession. It has always been the teachers and children who gave me the joy and support. People like Jamie, Myra, Kim, Jeanie, Janice, and Joanne who are so dedicated and working diligently to create wonderful places for young children and their teachers. These amazing women have found so many ways to encourage and support their teachers. They have designed and implemented fabulous Conferences, selected books and resources to add to teachers’ professional library, and celebrated each teacher’s accomplishments. They are an inspiration to me and all the others who have worked with them!

For the next few months, I am going to be sending you (in my blog) some ideas that will spark creativity in your young children. These suggestions can be adjusted and tailored to your unique children and their interest. We are going to begin the new school year with some intriguing ways to encourage our children to think creatively, to communicate, and to collaborate with their peers. I hope you will also nurture your own creativity as you observe and interact with young children who have so many ideas, suggestions, and interest.


Creative Spark: Improving a Toy


old teddy bear, or toy, chart paper, and marker


  1. Bring an old Teddy Bear (or toy) to group time
  2. Lead a discussion about how the Teddy Bear may have been used? How was he played with? Who did he belong to? Do you have a teddy bear or favorite stuffed animal?
  3. Ask the children to think of ways they could have more fun with the Bear. Seek suggestions for improving the object.
  4. Write down the children’s suggestions and comments they make on chart paper.
  5. Extend their answers by asking “How would that make Teddy more fun?”


This is an open-ended activity and was inspired by one of EP Torrance’s items for discovering creativity in children.

You can repeat this activity with different objects and gain other unique suggestions. Each time children will generate more ideas and be more willing to contribute as they participate in the process.

All answers are accepted and valued.

This activity relates to increasing fluency of ideas (many possibilities) and problem solving. The children are also communicating their ideas and listen to others.

Share with me:

Share with me some of the amazing suggestions your children identified. Some I thought were wonderful were, “Make him sing”, “Have a shiny coat for him”, “More arms so he could hug better”.


Remember we want to nurture creative thinkers and problem solvers ready for the 21st Century!

Make sparks in your classroom,