Winter Breaks: Turn Kids’ Creativity On

Winter Breaks

Winter Breaks: Turn Kids’ Creativity On

Tips to Turn Kids’ Creativity On and Boredom Off:

This winter, kids across America will be stuck indoors and looking to stay occupied. After the novelty of new holiday gifts wears off, chances are parents will hear those dreaded words: “I’m bored.”

Pediatricians recommend less than one to two hours of screen time a day for children. So how do you fill those remaining hours without handing over the iPad or popping in a DVD? Jeff Freeland Nelson, founder and CEO of YOXO toy company and former technical director of the Minnesota Children’s Museum, has tips to keep kids’ creativity flowing this winter break and throughout the year:

  • Create a maker space. Clear out an area of your home of traditional toys and fill it with “maker” materials: tape, paper, boxes, etc. When creative inspiration strikes your child, they will be ready to create in their own “workshop.”
  • Issue a creative challenge: Kids often need a push to get creative and surprisingly, scarcity is good for creative play. Issue a challenge like “build the tallest tower possible” and then add a constraint like “using only straws and tape.” It is amazing how quickly kids rise to the challenge.
  • Host a temporary black out. Turn off lights, smartphones, iPads and other gadgets. When the house goes dark, kids’ imaginations light up. A trip to the bathroom with a flashlight becomes an adventure, and reading stories by candlelight will stick with them more than just another movie night.

“Flexing the creativity muscle is important not only to build brain power, but also for life-long goals of making friends, getting a job and loving life,” Freeland Nelson says. “Our goal is to help kids realize that the world isn’t full of problems, it’s full of raw materials needed to create solutions. They just have to know where to look.”

For more ideas, visit

In a world fueled by anti-creative, plastic toys, Freeland Nelson sought to develop toys made of sustainable materials that would inspire kids’ creativity. Thus YOXO, building kits made of recycled wood pulp in the shapes of Y, O and X, was born. The YOXO pieces can be connected in thousands of ways and attached to toilet paper tubes, paper towel rolls, etc., inspiring kids to build anything they can imagine.


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