Unusual Uses – Research-Backed At-Home Activities – Bay Area Discovery Museum

Unusual Uses

If you think you know what a broom does or what a kitchen whisk is for, it may be time to think again! In this activity, your child can show off their creative thinking skills by coming up with unique ways to use everyday objects.

Learning Goals:

  • Come Up with Ideas and Try Them Out
  • Communicate Thinking

Materials Needed:

  • Writing utensil and paper (optional)
  • A collection of everyday objects from around the house that can be held


  • Make a list of items your family sees or uses every day, or look at the objects you gathered. For example:
    • A broom or mop
    • A yardstick or ruler
    • A milk container
    • A ball
  • Pick one item from the items you’ve gathered. Ask your child to think of as many uses as possible for the item they’ve selected. Encourage them to brainstorm images uses that could actually work, and ones that are more unusual or imaginative.
  • Older children can write their ideas out on a piece of paper, while younger ones can draw pictures of their ideas or explain them out loud.
  • After five minutes, go over your child’s ideas with them. Talk about which ones might actually work in real life—for example, using a dinner fork as a doll brush, or a milk container as a piggy bank—and which ones are more fantastical or imaginative.

For younger children or those who are dramatically inclined, this activity can be done as a silly improvisation game!

  • Select one ordinary object, and pass it between players.
  • Each time the object changes hands, the person holding shares (and demonstrates) an unusual use for the object. For example, a banana can be a phone, a large mustache, a unicorn’s horn, or a canoe paddle.

Tips for Adults:

  • Children who are asked to be creative are more likely to come up with creative solutions. Encourage your child to think outside the box, and come up with as many new, silly, or strange ideas as possible.
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Bay Area Discovery Museum is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to providing children with research-backed early learning experiences that inspire creative problem solving. We need your help now more than ever.

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