Photo: Nina Meehan

Summer is upon us! The evenings are longer, the weather is warmer and the days are slightly less hectic…maybe. Summer is a terrific time to embrace creativity as part of your family’s routine. During the school year, things tend to be more regimented, but the summer offers days with different rhythms. And while every day or week can feel chaotic, sometimes a little bit of chaos is the best way to help keep creative minds active. Creative thinking is often just about looking at the world around you in a different way, so here are a few ideas to help inspire your family as part of your family’s daily routine:

1. PLAY WITH YOUR FOOD: Take turns making different kinds of breakfast foods with faces. Can eggs be a beard? How about bacon eyebrows? What can you do with some blueberries, toast and a banana? Children of all ages can get involved with the fun of making their breakfast into a Mr. Potato Head game. BONUS: Take a picture of all the faces and make a collage of the photos at the end of the summer!
2. COUNT YOUR RAINBOWS: You may have played “punch buggy” as a kid, well here is a less violent way to keep your eyes peeled on the outside world as you drive back and forth from camp or weekend getaways. Take turns finding rainbow colors in order. The first person that finds something that is red, the next orange, etc. through the entire rainbow, wins! BONUS: You can also play competitively with older kids, but they need to declare what they see “I see Red, on the Fire Truck!”
3. ALPHABET STORIES: While enjoying a summertime sandwich, challenge your family to an Alphabet Story. The first person starts a story with a sentence beginning with the letter A, then the next person adds on with a sentence that starts with B, all the way until Z.  HINT: Name one of your characters Xavier, so when you get to X, you can easily start a sentence like, “Xavier left the castle and hiked up the Mountain.”
4. MAKE A MAP: As a family, make up an imaginary world. Start with some group sketches. Does the world have a forest, deserts, castles, plateaus, mountains? Then with some poster board, glue, ripped up paper bags, paint and rocks and dirt from the garden create a 3D version of a map of your world. This can be a multi-day or multi-week project.  BONUS: Once the map is made, use it to create stories about things that happened in the different regions of the map. Everyone can take turns telling a story every night.
5. BRING A STORY TO LIFE: If your house is anything like mine, dress up is a daily occurrence, but I rarely remember to take the time to link dress up with story. Next time your little one finds a special outfit, use it as a springboard to make up a story together. Who is the person who wears this special outfit? Where do they live?  BONUS: Dedicate a breakfast, lunch or dinner to the story, so if it’s a princess, make a fancy tea, if it’s a superhero, find some “super-power foods” to enjoy!
6. SEE CREATIVITY IN ACTION: Visit cultural institutions for inspiration! Visit your local museums, go to a craft fair and ask the artisan how things are made, listen to live music, see theatre!

This post originally appeared on Piedmont Post.