Toys and tips to help you raise a creative young 'maker'

Posted: Updated:

One of the major trends emerging from this year's Toy Fair New York was the "Makers Movement." The Maker Movement spotlights toys that allow kids to build and create items that are unique to them.

Local blogger from Eclectic Momsense and the North Phoenix Moms Blog network, Kelly Denton, explained that the Maker Movement can help kids develop cognitive skills, build confidence, promote creativity, resourcefulness and problem-solving skills.

There is one toy company in particular which is leading the Makers Movement, called YOXO. The company's products will be launching in Target stores next week. YOXO construction kits inspire kids to design and build their own toys using Y, O, and X-shaped links that connect in numerous ways with everyday household materials. Look for toy names like Doon, Orig, and Flye.

Denton says one of the most important thins a parent can do is teach children "to make." Raising a maker is a great way to teach kids that they have the power to change the world, even in a small way. As they grow older they'll realize all those small changes can lead to something very big.

Even if your kids don't grow up to be designers or architects, they will grow up knowing they have the power to change the world and to creatively control the course of the most important project - their lives.

Here are some of Denton's tips to raise a "maker:"

-Create a maker space
Carve out a space dedicated to making. Get rid of traditional toys and stock it with “maker stuff” - string, tape, blocks, Legos, and YOXO - so creative materials are available for your kids whenever inspiration hits.

-Set aside time for making
Choose a regular time every week (or every day) where all the screens and gadgets are put away and the only item on the agenda is to make. The first few times may only feel moderately successful, but soon the kids will start planning ahead and their creations will only get more amazing.

-Embrace randomness
One of the biggest challenges young makers face is deciding what to make. When confronted with this kind of maker's block, throw out a random idea like, "How about building a dizzy dragon?" Not only does this sound funny, it gets the creative wheels turning. They may not end up creating a dizzy dragon, but they will end up creating something.

-Be a maker yourself
There is nothing that encourages kids to make more than seeing you make as well. Get down to their level (whatever that level may be) and start building. It is important to resist the urge, however, to try to help or improve your kids' projects. Let them succeed alone and it will lead to more confidence in their own abilities.