By Aura Parker

In my experience, creativity grows out of playfulness, and ideas thrive during unhurried times of play and experimentation. Much as I would love to switch off the wifi and insist the kids be more creative, it doesn’t really work like that.

I do have some ideas to try in the spirit of fun though, to get those creative juices flowing.


As a kids’ book author / illustrator having just published my fourth title, a rhyming bedtime book called Goodnight Glow Worms, the most enjoyable part of the process is getting carried away with the story, both writing and illustrating.

Like many illustrators, my love of drawing started when was a child. It didn’t grow out of watching Youtube tutorials or taking art lessons, as the time to study art came much later. I learned from doodling and practicing as a steady diet of films and books, the old fashioned ones, which you can hold and turn the pages, fed my imagination.

There is so much you can do, you don’t need a studio and it doesn’t have to involve expensive art supplies or anything more than good old pencil, paper and scissors.

I care deeply about the quality of the work, the technique and learning the craft, but first I want to let loose and embrace the freedom of playing with an idea, especially in these unusual times when there is already so much we feel we should be doing.

My suggestions are aimed at developing a willingness and confidence to roll with it, and dare to embrace a bit of silliness. I can vouch that enthusiasm is contagious… and I mean contagious in a good way!

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Make paper planes and decorate them
Give your plane a silly name, then make a pilot and stick her on too. Have a flying competition, with the kids, and then the planes!

I dare you to draw animals
Jump in and draw with gusto! Draw your animals badly, mix them up, make mistakes and laugh at them. Draw a giraffe, a meerkat, and a donkey. The donkey will probably be hard! Ha ha! Sorry about that, but I can’t wait to see it.

Then draw them again, and again, referring to photos to make them better. The second iteration will be a vast improvement and kids will learn so much from seeing you give it a go.

Write a book
Grab some A4 paper, fold in half and start writing a book, see where it takes you. I can honestly tell you the thing that helped most when I was little was encouragement from my parents. Make miniature books too, they are the cutest! Focus on the idea, the characters and the story itself.

Draw and paint with you kids – they will love watching you give it a go.

Play Mr Squiggle
Draw a shape with a few lines and then the kids have to finish it and turn it into a drawing. Be as ridiculous and out of left field as possible.

Play draw-and-fold-over
An oldie but a goodie! Fold the paper into four rows, someone draws the head, leaving dots to indicate where the next person draws the upper body and arms, then lower body and last segment. The best part is always the crazy reveal at the end!

Make a treasure hunt
Design clues for the next person, or draw a treasure map of the house to find the lost goodies.

Cut out a heart-shaped card and colour it in with patterns, and send a love message to someone you miss. It just might brighten up their day, and yours.

Create finger puppets
Make Goodnight Glow Worm finger puppets. They made me laugh when I made them so they might make you laugh too. You never know, it might lead to a puppet show.

Embrace being silly and have fun
Let loose, nobody else can hear you and nobody is judging. The kids will appreciate the picture you drew, the crazy story you made up, the terrible Dad joke you made.

Make a cubby and pull out a book, with pages you can turn. Put on funny voices when you read aloud, improvise and change the ending to the stories too. And hopefully you will be rewarded with more smiles, tickles and cuddles than ever.

Have fun, and I very much hope you get a rest from the chaos of these unsettling times.

Goodnight Glow Worms by Aura Parker ($24.99, published by Penguin Random House Australia) is for little ones aged two and over. It’s full of playful illustrations with a bouncing rhyme. It’s a perfect ending to send little ones happily off to sleep.