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6 creative-thinking activities to spark your 5-year-old’s imagination

Thinking outside of the box is not a skill people are born with, but fostering creative thinking is actually something to encourage in children because we do not live in a black-and-white world. Abstract thinking is a skill that is a huge asset to children as they climb the educational ladder toward adulthood. Creative-thinking games are a fun way to get children’s minds open to working out innovative solutions to problems and encouraging the imagination to wander. So, what are some entertaining games that stimulate creativity and imagination in a 5-year-old?

two kids looking up at cloud shapes
Johnstocker Production/Shutterstock

Cloud shapes

A ridiculously simple game requiring absolutely nothing is to head outside on a nice day. Sit or lie down on the grass and look up to the sky at those pretty, white, fluffy clouds. Like an abstract painting, clouds take on a different shape for each person. You and your child can have a great time talking about which cloud looks like a cuddly bunny or a fierce tyrannosaurus rex.


Who hasn’t spent a rainy afternoon putting on their mom and dad’s clothes when they were little? Nothing stimulates the imagination more than an old-fashioned game of dress-up. Give kids a box of clothes, shoes, hats, and accessories headed for the donation bin and let them have at it. You will get a chuckle out of the crazy outfits they come up with or, more importantly, the characters they pretend to be. Even parents can talk a walk down memory lane and join in on the fun.



Whether it’s finger painting or with a brush, colors and a blank piece of paper really get the creative juices flowing. A kids’ painting easel with a convenient paper roll and paint is a wonderful outlet of creativity for children of all ages. Just make sure the paint kids use is nontoxic and washable.


Homemade in the kitchen or ordered online from the playdough giant Play-Doh, this squishy toy ignites the imagination as well as works those fine motor skills in hands and fingers. Homemade playdough isn’t difficult to make; you probably already have most of the ingredients in the kitchen.

Playdough recipe:


  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tablespoons oil (vegetable or coconut)
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 2 tablespoons cream of tartar
  • 1 1/2 cups of boiling water


  • Put the flour and salt in a bowl, mixing together
  • Add in the cream of tartar
  • Stir in oil
  • Carefully pour in boiling water
  • Stir until the texture is dough-like
  • Add food coloring or gel for different colors
  • Allow to cool completely before separating into balls

Let kids get rolling and creating with their playdough. Kids do just fine without all the extra toys that tend to come with commercial playdough. All they really need is their hands, a rolling pin, and a table.

girl drawing on sidewalk
Alina Reynbakh/Shutterstock


Coloring is a relaxing and enjoyable activity for kids, but it does teach kids to color inside the lines. A blank piece of paper with markers, crayons, or colored pencils allows children to explore their own unique creativity. Even teens can benefit from a blank journal to draw in. If you want to encourage creativity, let kids just sit and draw whatever they like. Another fun way to get kids drawing is a bucket of sidewalk chalk.

What if …

A perfect car game for those long road trips or extended car rides is to take your child’s favorite books or movies and redo the ending. What would Frozen be like if Anna was queen and not Elsa? How would Goldilocks and the Three Bears be different if Goldilocks sat down for a cup of tea with the bears instead of running away? This is a cute game that gives kids the freedom to rethink the endings of their top books and films. “What if …” is a perfect game to encourage your child’s imagination as well as verbal and writing skills.

Imagination is such an amazing thing and part of the joy of childhood. An active imagination encourages creativity and teaches kids it’s okay to think outside of the box. Some adults may think creative play is a waste of time, but the opposite is true. Creative thinking leads to innovative problem-solving skills. Both are assets in the classroom and later on in the professional realm. Exposing your children to all kinds of play — especially imaginative — is beneficial. Introduce one or more of these creative outlets into your child’s day, and you will find it is a wonderful way to inspire your 5-year-old’s imagination.

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Dawn Miller
Dawn Miller began her professional life as an elementary school teacher before returning to her first love, writing. In…
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