Ask Google to define creativity and you get: the use of the imagination or original ideas, especially in the production of an artistic work.
Merriam – Webster defines “creativity”: the ability to make new things or think of new ideas
Marianna says: creativity is when you make stuff and make stuff up
Children learn much from painting, drawing, singing and creating, and it seems as if app developers have figured out that teachers and parents who select and download apps for young children value creativity. We see more and more apps in the app stores, in app reviews, on Twitter and in blogs that say they are “creative” and we wonder if they have thought deeply about that.
What we think is NOT creativity.
Click to “Paint”
On-tablet coloring books, on-tablet “painting” where the finger swipes simply color in the lines even if the finger wanders off the “page”, and apps which are too restrictive in how a child creates an image are not usually “creativity apps”. Click in the lines to fill the image with color or, in the more “advanced creativity apps ” in this category, you can fill the picture with rainbows or unicorns or patterns. These harken back to Gail’s childhood of buying “paint-by-number” kits and carefully following the numbers to make “amazing” art.
They may engage children and some children may like to “complete” images with this kind of activity… but is it encouraging creativity? We can find coloring in coloring books a soothing activity for ourselves, but we would never suggest we are being “creative”.
Instead Look For
… open-ended apps with drawing and painting tools. Look for apps which provide no judgement as to the child’s creations other than encouragement and opportunities to revisit and reflect on their work, perhaps even recording their thoughts and ideas about their work via voice or text.
Click to Assemble
We have seen apps where children are to “cut” shapes and “assemble” these shapes into “creations of their own” when in reality they are unable to choose the shapes, the patterns or where to place these in their creations. These are often promoted as creativity tools. They are really more like puzzles where your child is to put pre-designed elements into predetermined locations.
Instead Look For
… apps where children can use shapes and items they design or which are pre-designed for them and then create new items and composites with no restraints. These allow for children to create collages or scenes with their own vision and creativity. The apps “allow” for pigs in trees or vases as bodies for creatures or for boats made of half-circles and triangles floating on hand-drawn purple seas.
Apps are often labelled as creativity apps when we think the most creative thing about the apps is the marketing efforts in labeling these as creative. To select apps to encourage and allow for your child’s creativity look for apps which are open-ended, encourage experimentation, and provide opportunities to return to “creations” and reflect.
Apps to Consider:
We will provide more complete reviews of these and other apps in the future, they are included in our book: Using an iPad with Your Preschooler
Sago Mini Doodlecast
Educational ZoLO Creative Play Sculpture
MOMA Art Lab
We hope you will share your thoughts via comments here or email us at email@example.com