The power of creativity is boundless and being able to think creatively is an essential problem-solving skill that can’t be overlooked. According to CNN, “Today’s toddler faces a universe of rapidly evolving technology, an ever-shifting global economy, and far-reaching health and environmental challenges—scenarios that will all require plenty of creative thinking.”’
As teachers, it’s our goal to equip the next generation with the knowledge, skills, and abilities to make positive, lasting, and impactful changes to our world. An absolutely essential part of that is fostering creativity at a young age.
Check out these three ways to encourage creative thinking in your classroom. Which ones work best for you? Do you have suggestions for more? Connect with us on Twitter and Facebook and tell us your thoughts!
Visit your local art museum
My favorite piece from LACMA, "Allegro" by Rolph Scarlett.
Full confession, this activity was inspired by a trip I took to LACMA in LA. While browsing through the African art exhibit (of course this is where I would start), I saw a group of elementary students scattered throughout the room, pencils and paper in hand, studiously drawing as they observed a specific piece of art. I snooped over the shoulders of a few of them and was so impressed—what a fantastic way to unleash creativity while at the same time encouraging observation skills!
We are big advocates of using your local resources, especially museums, and kids LOVE field trips. Something about getting outside of your normal classroom routine and looking at new, unfamiliar objects is a great way to get students thinking in new ways.
Take your students to one specific exhibit at the museum and let each of them choose a piece of art they like. Depending on the level and interest of your students (and your goals for the activity) have students draw a replica of their chosen art, or encourage them to write a story or poem about the piece. The most important part of this activity, whether students draw or write, is to encourage them to be completely liberated in their interpretations. They are flexing their creativity muscles so there’s no right or wrong answer. Afterwards, encourage students to share their drawings or writing with the class, displaying the pieces around the classroom if you choose.
Create silly storytellers
This activity is fantastic for unleashing creativity for all ages. I last played this game in Ghana with my host family that included kids and adults ages 9-28 and it produced a lot of laughs, fun, and had our creative minds twirling.
Keep in mind that the directions for this activity are best understood when you provide an example, so be sure to show students how to fold the paper properly so no one can sneak a peak at the drawing or writing they aren’t supposed to see!
Have students sit in a circle in small groups of 4-5. Give each one a piece of paper and explain that they are going to become group storytellers. Explain that each person will first write a simple sentence on the top of their paper such as, “The yellow duck crosses the road.” Students will then pass their paper to the left, and the person that receives it, will have to draw a picture of the sentence. That student will fold the paper so that only the picture they drew is visible. They will then pass it to the left, where the next student will write a sentence about the drawing they see. That student will then fold the paper so that only the sentence they wrote is visible (and not the previous drawing). The activity continues like this, alternating between drawing and writing, until the piece of paper reaches the original student.
Once the circle is complete, have students open their paper and share with the group how their original sentence changed or stayed the same. There’s great fun and creative power in this silly combination of writing and drawing that will really stick with students and get them thinking in new, unique ways!
Don’t let the simplicity of this one fool you, it's a game changer. This is an activity I distinctly remember from when I was a student. It was so important for me that today when I get writer’s block I actually recreate it for myself to get my own creativity going.
Music is a powerful educational tool that can often be overlooked. As adults, we listen to music all the time—on the drive to work, as we study, even to help us change our mood. But how often do you listen to music in your classroom? Use this activity to help integrate music into your students' creative process!
Explain to students that they will do a free write while listening to music. The key to this activity is letting the mood of the music take students to new places in their creativity and writing that they might not normally reach. In order to do that, have students close their eyes while the music plays, letting them steep into the mood and ambiance of the song. After 30 seconds, tell students to open their eyes and begin their free write.
Since we are passionate about multicultural education, we recommend using music from a different part of the world for this activity. Check out the World Music page on AccuRadio for some great songs from around the globe. Also, make sure the song you choose is long enough. Since students will be closing their eyes for a few seconds at first, make sure there is enough time left in the song so they can really dig into their writing before it ends!
You can scale this activity up or down depending on the level of your students. For example, if you have a younger class, you can have them draw a picture instead of write.
They say necessity is the mother of all invention, but we think creativity is a vital piece to this equation that is often overlooked. Encouraging creativity in kids is a crucial part of education that will help prepare them for tackling challenges in the future.
So go forth and get creative with your students! We insist :)