Inspired by the ever-popular Washington Post Magazine Peeps contest, my family spent spring break exploring our own creation of characters and word plays with peeps.
The sugar-covered marshmallow animals provide a great beginning for all kinds of characters and are easily wrapped with paper and fabric or stuck with tooth picks, wire and coffee stirrers to create unique creations. It was a great opportunity to share ideas and see what we could make with simple materials found around the house.
Play with peeps builds two kinds of thinking central to creativity - divergent and convergent thinking. Divergent thinking involves open-ended questions and finding multiple solutions and ideas. After purchasing our peeps, we shared ideas on the way home - thinking of many different ways to transform a peep. This continued as we began our creations as one idea would naturally lead to another and we began forming lists of additional characters to remember all the ideas.
The convergent thinking comes in with trying to find just the right materials to realize an idea. It is about synthesis, putting parts together and using what you know to apply to a new situation. This is the time for discernment and decision-making. If the perfect environment isn't possible, can you make do with a shoe box? What might we have around the house that would look like a sword or a paint brush? Working in a group helps with the sharing and interplay of ideas as we find just the right pieces to realize and communicate ideas.
Most of all this sort of creativity invites a healthy dose of play. It is just silly to create with sugar covered marshmallows so no one is tempted to take themselves too seriously and this invites lots of fun and invention. So after Easter, look for some peeps on sale and set up your own family for a night of play with peeps.
Kathryn Horn Coneway is the director of Art at the Center, a studio lab for children and families in Alexandria, Virginia. Learn more about our upcoming spring classes at www.artatthecenter.org After school classes begin April 11. Email email@example.com for information on Art Explorers trial classes for toddlers and preschoolers.