How to Encourage Creativity and Imagination in Children Ages 3 to 5

July 14, 2019 / Parent Resources

Early childhood is a magical time, with endless things to discover in the real world and countless opportunities for make-believe. Creativity and imagination are two of the essential skills we build during the first five years of life. NASA scientists even found that most of us hit our creative peak between ages four and five. Given this, how can we inspire young minds to tap into the creative and imaginary fountain?.

What are creativity and imagination?

First, let’s look at the definitions of creativity and imagination. It’s important to note that creativity and imagination are, in fact, two distinct skills. Imagination involves creating something that does not exist, or has not existed before. Creativity, on the other hand, involves bringing together things that already exist in an unexpected way. The American Psychological Association defines creativity as consisting of two parts, originality and functionality. 

How do we learn creativity and imagination? 

Research suggests that we don’t learn imagination and creativity so much as we unlock the abilities we already have. When we’re toddlers, we start to play pretend by mimicking the actions of the adults around us. The preschool years bring more imaginative forms of play, in which kids construct fantasy worlds governed by entirely new rules. 

When a group of kids play together to create a make-believe world, they improve their creativity and imagination skills, as well as their social-emotional skills. Another way kids can develop these skills, either independently or in a group, is through technology-enabled learning products.

Osmo’s brand-new Little Genius Start Kit includes games that encourage children ages 3 to 5 to be creative and imaginative. In Osmo Little Genius Costume Party, players mix and match different clothing styles and colors to create their perfect party outfit. There are no rules that outfits must “go together” in the game. Kids are free to express their imagination fully. In Osmo Little Genius Stories, kids use their creativity skills to select the clothing items they will need to embark on an adventure. The game teaches kids how to work with what they have to reach a solution. 

Why are these skills important?

Beyond their role in the enjoyment of everyday life, creativity and imagination are essential skills for overcoming obstacles and achieving success. That’s why today’s business leaders consider it “the most crucial factor for future success,” according to a survey by IBM. Seventeen countries have identified “creativity and innovation” as a core competency that is “so valuable for the next generation it requires major restructuring of national educational programs and priorities.” Osmo’s award-winning educational games help kids build these core competencies. To learn more about our hands-on learning tools, visit