via All Pro Dad: One of the most innovative companies of the last century is the Danish toy company LEGO, meaning “Play Well”. It was originally a wooden toy making company founded by woodworker Ole Kirk Christiansen. Left to raise four sons after his wife’s death, he made wooden toys from the scraps in his workshop during the Great Depression. Eventually, each of his sons would join the business. Believing plastic toys to be the future, he bought a plastic molding machine. Three of his sons thought abandoning wooden toys was so ludicrous they started a competing toy company still based in wooden toys. Only one son, Godtfred, remained with Lego. The plastic molding machine proved to be a stroke of genius and illustrated a firm understanding of the direction the toy world was headed. It eventually produced the same Lego building brick that litters carpets all over the world.

Godtfred continued his father’s innovative spirit by taking the company and the toy world to the next level. While visiting a toy fair in London, he spoke to a buyer who suggested making toys that were related to one another. Godtfred took the idea back to Lego and they began to produce brick sets that fit together and minifigures that were to scale of the structures. In essence, they created an entire system of play. It was nothing short of innovative brilliance.

Teaching our kids to be innovative will help them be more creative and sharpen their minds. Here are the best ways to teach kids to be innovative:

Building Toys
Building toys give kids the opportunity to explore many new possibilities. LEGOs are the obvious place to start given the introduction. However, there are also Lincoln Logs, Erector Sets, Roominate, Picasso Tiles, and many more. LEGO also has competitions, which even includes teaching innovation in programming and robotics.

Strategic Thinking Games
Some of the most useful innovation is in the area of organization and strategy. Playing strategy thinking games, such as Monopoly, Stratego, Checkers, Chess, Battleship and others will train their mind to think of out of the box solutions.

Interesting Questions and Scenarios
Getting kids to think outside the box doesn’t take much, but some of the best innovation comes when we place restrictions around something. It’s innovating inside the box. Give them a crazy situation with rules and see what their mind produces. The right questions can get the mind going. Here are a few examples:

  • What playground toys would there be if gravity didn’t exist?
  • How would you present something at “show and tell” if you had to do it under water (not able to use audible words)?
  • In what ways could you help people if you could jump 30 feet in the air as a superpower?

Drawing Times
If you are looking to calm the kids down and work their mind, have them sit down and draw; however, give them an assignment. Tell them to draw the following or come up with other ideas: dream house, a flying car, spaceship, a superhero showing the powers he/she has, a new toy, a new animal species, their dream room, their own country (name, land shape, and place names).

Culinary Arts
Have your kids pair different ingredients together to make new forms food. Let them try strange flavor combinations then have them name their new creation. They can experiment making a new kind of sandwich, dessert, pizza (shape, size, ingredients), shake or smoothie, etc.

via Ideas.Ted : Moms and dads often feel like they can’t win. If they pay too much attention to their kids, they’re helicopter parents; too little, and they’re absentee parents. What’s the happy medium that will result in truly happy, self-sufficient kids? Here are five tips.

1. Give your kids things they can own and control.
“Enlist the children in their own upbringing. Research backs this up: children who plan their own goals, set weekly schedules and evaluate their own work build up their frontal cortex and take more control over their lives. We have to let our children succeed on their own terms, and yes, on occasion, fail on their own terms. I was talking to Warren Buffett’s banker, and he was chiding me for not letting my children make mistakes with their allowance. And I said, ‘But what if they drive into a ditch?’ He said, ‘It’s much better to drive into a ditch with a $6 allowance than a $60,000-a-year salary or a $6 million inheritance’.“

— Bruce Feiler, writer and author of The Secrets of Happy Families

2. Don’t worry about raising happy kids.
“In our desperate quest to create happy kids, we may be assuming the wrong moral burden. It strikes me as a better goal, and, dare I say, a more virtuous one, to focus on making productive kids and moral kids, and to simply hope that happiness will come to them by virtue of the good they do and the love that they feel from us. I think if we all did that, the kids would still be all right, and so would their parents — possibly in both cases even better.”

— Jennifer Senior, writer and author of All Joy and No Fun

3. Show your kids that you value who they are as people.

“Childhood needs to teach our kids how to love, and they can’t love others if they don’t first love themselves, and they won’t love themselves if we can’t offer them unconditional love. When our precious offspring come home from school or we come home from work, we need to close our technology, put away our phones, look them in the eye and let them see the joy that fills our faces when we see our child. Then, we have to say, ‘How was your day? What did you like about today?’ They need to know they matter to us as humans, not because of their GPA.”

— Julie Lythcott-Haims, former dean of freshmen at Stanford University and author of How to Raise an Adult

4. Teach your kids to help out around the house — without being asked.

“We absolve our kids of doing the work of chores around the house, and then they end up as young adults in the workplace still waiting for a checklist, but it doesn’t exist. More importantly, they lack the impulse, the instinct to roll up their sleeves and pitch in and look around and wonder, How can I be useful to my colleagues? How can I anticipate a few steps ahead to what my boss might need?”

— Julie Lythcott-Haims

5. Remember that the little things matter.

“Quite small things that parents do are associated with good outcomes for children — talking and listening to a child, responding to them warmly, teaching them their letters and numbers, taking them on trips and visits. Reading to children every day seems to be really important, too. In one study, children whose parents were reading to them daily when they were five and then showing an interest in their education at the age of 10 were significantly less likely to be in poverty at the age of 30 than those whose parents weren’t doing those things.”

— Helen Pearson, science journalist and author of The Life Project