According to Crayola.com, the dean of the School of Arts and Sciences at Tufts University, Dr. Robert Sternberg, has conducted research showing that imagination is as important an indicator of success later in life as intelligence. For this reason, it is important to foster creativity in children as they grow and develop. Finding creative ways to decorate routine school projects is one way to encourage imagination on a regular basis.
Have the child use construction paper and scissors to create cutouts that are relevant to the topic of the project. If, for instance, the project is about nutrition, use a pencil to draw the outlines of different fruits and vegetables on appropriately colored construction paper--or let the child do their own outlines if the are a bit older. Then have the child cut them out and decoratively paste them onto the project. Such cutouts can also be enhanced by drawing details onto them; dots on an orange to show the dimples, brown areas on a banana for ripeness, etc. For older children interested in more detail, suggest cutting out details from different colored paper, such as green leaves or a brown stem.
Creating small details and enhancements with colored markers can be an effective way of dressing up a school project. Suggest that the child outline parts of the project with the colors of their choice, add small demonstrative diagrams or illustrative drawings, color in blank spots for splashes of color, or any other appropriate application of markers.
For a really put-together and professional looking product, consider using photographs for decoration. These could be pictures you take of the child doing things that are relevant to the project, family photos that you already have, or pictures that you find on the Internet with your child. Print out the pictures, cut them out if necessary, and help the child decide where to put them.
Glitz and Glitter
Loose glitter or glitter pens can be a fun and attention-getting way to decorate a project. Before allowing the child to get creative with glitter, be sure to cover the work surface and potentially even the floor in order to ensure easy clean-up. Glitter can highlight words or titles of the project, or can be used to create visual effects like water or suggestions of metallic objects. Use a glue stick to make the area that you want to cover with glitter sticky, then sprinkle loose glitter over the glue. Allow any extra glitter to fall away, then let it dry.
Matting different elements of the project--either written pieces or drawings and photographs--gives the project a polished look. There are two common techniques for matting. Cut a piece of construction paper that is one inch longer and one inch wider than the object you are matting, then paste the object to the center of the construction paper. Alternatively, cut a piece of construction paper that matches the length and width of the piece you are matting. Paste the object to the construction paper so that it is offset; a half-inch lower and a half-inch to the right or left, creating a "shadow" effect.
- Amy Morris/Demand Media