As Victorians enter Stage 4 lockdown, it can be easy to get bogged down with all the things we can’t do. It is important to remember the incredible tool that is always with us: our imagination. We have the opportunity to build the reality we want, and to choose to be inspired instead of tired.
This blog is for young parents who are at home with their children. For teachers who are facing another round of remote learning. For adults who are young at heart and couples who want to spice up their date nights.
Tips to build imagination
Imagination is a muscle. The more you engage it, the stronger it will grow. I am a drama teacher, and I have found when setting tasks that adding some restrictions enhances creativity. Being too open ended can be intimidating. Imagine a tall mountain with a group of people on the top. If there is nothing to stop them from falling over the edge, they will huddle together in the middle out of fear.
However, if a fence is placed around the perimeter of the summit, the people will go right up to the edge and look over. They feel safe within the boundary.
As a result of Covid, we are quite literally restricted right now. How can we use those restrictions as inspiration for our creativity?
Embrace your inner child
There is so much we can learn from children. They are naturally connected with their imagination. When I was a child I would spend hours playing with my brothers and sisters. Michael and I used to imagine that we were the hosts of our own version of the 90’s Australian television show “Who Dares Wins”. I distinctly remember us saying to an invisible camera, “Now kids, don’t try this at home… even though we are kids”.
To embrace your inner child, welcome curiosity and suspend judgement. If you are feeling pressured to come up with amazing, engaging activities to do with your kids; take a step back and follow their lead. One of the key principles of improv comedy is to “bring a brick, not a cathedral”. Creating a whole scenario can be daunting. Instead, just take the first step and then invite your children to “bring a brick” of their own. Asking open-ended questions can help with the co-creation process (e.g. “I wonder what we could do with this?”)
"Children see magic because they look for it." - Christopher Moore
Choose a theme
Over the years of leading camps and delivering leadership training, I’ve learned that there are a fixed number of game structures. The real magic comes from adding in a theme and a compelling story. Are your go-to iso activities starting to feel a bit stale? Apply a theme to create some magic. Click the spinning wheels below to generate a random combination of themes and activities. Who knew Pirates Masterchef could be so fun?
Click the spinner to choose a theme!
Click the spinner to choose an activity!
"We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
Collaborate with others
When Melbourne first went into lockdown, my friends and I organised a “virtual camping weekend”. Over the course of the weekend, we could opt-in to various activities that were run over Zoom by different people in the group. We made pillow forts, had art classes, competed in Game Master challenges, did a scavenger hunt, experienced virtual escape rooms, played trivia, had a movie night, played board games and did yoga and meditation. It was great fun and the organisational load was shared across the group.
“You’re only given a little spark of madness. You mustn’t lose it.” - Robin Williams
Use “found materials”
Planning a great activity doesn’t need to break the bank. More important than fancy props and costumes is enthusiasm and commitment. My sister (who has six kids and is an all round superwoman), recommends establishing a “useful box” for neat little cartons and cardboard rolls that can be dipped into for craft projects. She also suggested gathering flowers, leaves and pebbles to make garden mandalas.
“Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.” -Albert Einstein
Free online games
Catch-ups over Zoom work well when they have some structure and focus. Playing online games can be a great way to take the pressure off. Here are some games that are currently available for free online.
***Note, if you don’t have friends to play with, many of these games allow you to play with strangers or against a bot ***
Skribbl - https://skribbl.io/
Fun drawing game, similar to Pictionary. Up to 8 players
Code Names - https://codenames.game/
Word guessing game in teams, 4 - 8 players
Catan Universe - https://www.catan.com/game/catan-universe
Collect resources and build to win, 3 players
500 (and other card games) - https://www.trickstercards.com/home/500/
Win tricks, be the first to 500. 4 players
Kahoot - https://kahoot.it/
Trivia and quizzes, many players
Scrabble - https://www.isc.ro/
Create words, get the highest score. 2 players
Monopoly - https://www.webopoly.org/
Buy property, try to stay friends. 4 players
Click here to view a comprehensive list of games that can be played online.
As with anything, fostering your creativity takes time. Be patient with yourself and slowly find opportunities to build your imagination muscle and enjoy the little slices of magic it provides.
Help inspire others by sharing your ideas and suggestions in the comments. Happy dreaming!