Creativity Improves Learning Improves Creativity
You can use World Creativity and Innovation Week April 15 – 21 to experiment with new learning activities. Studies show that when students actively engage with course material and make it their own, they increase their learning potential. This is part of the creative process. Providing learners with enjoyable and involving learning activities sparks students’ creative spirit.
Creativity is not just for or about the arts. There are many great ways to integrate creative techniques into your daily teaching routine, here are 18.
Review the list – select 5 you like, and from the 5, choose 1 to do. Then come back and share your plans.
Who said that the walls need to be clean and clear? Why can’t they be dressed up a bit? All you need is chalk and imagination. Use chalk to draw, write, and scribble, and then wash it all away with some water. Use chalk to draw outside on the sidewalk. Use chalk to scribble a beautiful quote on a wall somewhere. Draw arrows on the ground. See if people follow them. Then wash your creations all away with some waters. You are ready to begin again.
2. Decide O’Meter
You will need a clock, and 12 sticky notes. Write 12 fun and quick activities of your choice on the sticky notes and place them on the face of the clock.
When feeling in the classroom is down in the doldrums take a look at the clock. The activity it points to is your activity for the hour. If it is 2:30, for example, you might have “Stretch a really good stretch”, or “Listen to a favourite song”. The ‘See and Say®’ child’s toy can be used instead of a clock, if you have one.
Make up your own activities, or start with these:
- “Stretch a really good stretch”
- “Listen to a favourite song”
- “Turn upside down and look at your environment from the ceiling”
- “Tell your neighbour something nice”
- “Make a list of 5 things you love”
3. Doodle and Art Board
Sometimes students just need to draw pictures of bugs, or frogs, or play tic-tac-toe during a break. Doodle boards are a great way to release creativity at your own pace, alone or with others, in a couple of seconds, or over great lengths of time.
Give students a short break during any class, French, Math, Geography, etc to Doodle on the Doodle board. Then, take pictures of their masterpieces and post them!
Supplies: Many different colours of markers and a large white board. Place the large white board in a communal area. Let the creativity take its own course.
4. WCIW Theme Days
Theme days during WCIW are a great way to get everyone involved and refreshed. Incorporate activities that alter the daily routine. As well as involving students in class, faculty and teachers can do it on their own to bolster their own ‘mental health’.
Some ideas: Re-Gift Day, Silly Hat Day, Dress Up Day, Ugly Sweater Day, Pick-a-Colour Day (everyone must wear that colour), Pick a Reflective Word Day.
5. Idea Jam
Gather a group of students or faculty together to brainstorm how to make something better than it is! Do your best to invent new ways to improve your school. Have someone facilitate the session for you to keep everyone on track.
Remember to use the rules of brainstorming and the creativity two-step. Don’t stop the flow generating ideas by judging anyone’s input during the ideation phase. Write down all the ideas because all ideas are welcome. Go for quantity of ideas.
Then, come back afterward to see where the energy is. Select ideas that are involving, compelling, and exciting. Choose one to make real, and do it. Great way to celebrate WCIW – new ideas and new decisions… in action!
6. Invention Show + Tell
If they have an idea, don’t just let students TELL someone: Ask them to make it and SHOW it!
Students can create a miniature of their idea out of cardboard, wires, or Playdoh. They can create two inventions and more! Ask them to make an IMPOSSIBLE invention or to make an invention that sings or has spots. Soon you’ll have a whole collection of new idea sculptures for show and tell in any subject area. An
interesting idea to use as an in-class project for WCIW April 15 – 21, no?
7. Pay It Forward
When people do something kind and inspiring for other people, it makes everyone feel better. Ask your students to brainstorm a number of creative ways to inspire someone else’s day and then to pass the spirit forward.
Supplies: You will need paper and art materials such as paint or coloured crayons, pens or markers.
Tell students to design individual cards and to write one inspiring action on each. The designs can be as imaginative, stylistic or attractive as they want. Make sure they leave a space for the people they will pass these to, to fill in their name before they pass it along to others. Have the students distribute them to friends, family, and co-workers during WCIW. Remember to make a note on each card reminding everyone to pass the card to someone else.
8. Inspiration Board
Ask students to write special things about the people they know on 3×5 cards, and have them post these comments cards on a bulletin board. Every time they walk by, they will notice new and special things about the people around them.
To start it off, ask the students what inspires them personally. What kinds of images do they like to collect? Post these on the board as well so that the class creates a collage of interesting, inspiring, beautiful pictures and sayings. Baby pictures, magazine images, quotes, interesting objects, fabrics, mirrors, ANYTHING that sparks their interest is welcome.
As they learn to notice what attracts them, students learn more about themselves.
9. Play the Clown
Playing is a great way to unleash creativity, and what would be a better way to play than to play a clown?
Encourage your class to creatively dress up and act like clowns to celebrate World Creativity and Innovation Week. You could challenge other classes and teachers and even the entire school to be clowns. Imagine an entire school of clowns!
- Vision of the Future: Ask the class to dress up and act like a person who works in their favourite desired future occupation. Life Guard, Artist, Doctor, Maestro for the day.
- Be what you Read: Ask the class to dress up and act like a character in, or the author of, the book they are reading.
10. Create a Permanent Creativity Showcase
Encourage each student to use greeting cards, slogans, mini websites, and other expressive mediums to show others what interests them. Then showcase their work.
For example: Photography students might focus on collecting different and unusually shaped bottles; advertising students create campaigns for their favourite sport; creative writing students compose an ode to their favourite food.
11. Create Music Out of Anything — or Nothing at All
Using pop cans, sticks, feet, hands, or voice, ask students to create music that’s loud, soft, rhythmic, on key and off-key. Ask everyone to start all at once, and encourage each one to listen to their own music amidst the noise.
Start by asking students to make the worst music possible. Then really celebrate how bad it is: a standing ovation is always fun.
Encourage them to comment on what they noticed, what they heard and what they felt, both when the music was bad and when it was good. Ask them about differences or similarities in what they experienced.
12. Role Reversal
During World Creativity and Innovation Week invite the students to dramatize being a teacher while the teacher plays the student.
Break the class into groups and ask each group to teach for a part of the day.
13. The What and the Why’s of What You Want
Each student takes one of their goals or dreams and creates a collage to express it to the class. They collect old magazine pictures that show what they want and, more importantly, why they want it. The images can be literal or symbolic.
Each student can give the class a preview of their collage and ask the others to guess what their goal or dream is. Once the guessing is done, students can share the meaning behind their collage.
Research shows that the bigger the “why” — the reason behind what you want — the better the chances of getting “what” you want.
14. Strike a Pose
The idea here is to create imaginative silhouettes of each person in the class. Split the class into pairs. Taking a very large piece of Kraft paper or black poster board, one person lies down on the paper and strikes an imaginative pose which expresses an emotion (for example: happiness) or conveys an action (for example: catching a fish). The other person takes a marker and traces the outline of the person lying down. The pair then switches roles.
At the end of the class shuffle the silhouettes and hold up one at a time; the class guesses which silhouette matches which person, and the action or emotion they were expressing.
- Use chalk to trace the outline on the floor of the classroom or hallway.
- Take students outside and use chalk to draw their outlines on the pavement.
15. Celebrate mistakes… really celebrate mistakes
A big part of creativity is taking risks. Sometimes risks lead to mistakes. To encourage risking and building trust for classmates, celebrating mistakes is a great thing to do! Learning from mistakes grows wisdom.
Make a pact with the class that for one day during World Creativity and Innovation Week that every time someone makes a mistake he or she will celebrate it and the class will to celebrate with them.
- Throwing one’s head back, and enthusiastically shouting ‘”I made a mistake!!!!!”
- Shakin’ and shimmying
To stimulate “mistake making,” try this game:
Gather everyone in a circle. Have a list of general topics ready. The game is played so that when you announce a topic, each person names something related to is as quickly as they can in the circle, beginning with the person who’s birthday is closest to the day. As soon as someone makes a mistake they must go to the centre of the circle and everyone celebrates them!
- Name a type of tree
- Name a female celebrity
- Relate the topic to your lesson plan. Etc.
- Answering too slowly
- Not being able to answer/respond with an example
- Answering incorrectly
- Answering in a way that is difficult for others to hear
Sometimes great ideas come from bad ideas. And sometimes ideas are lost because they aren’t examined thoroughly. The idea-a-thon is a great way to encourage the discipline of looking for the gold in any idea.
Pick a challenge (or opportunity). Encourage the class to shout out every idea they can think of to solve it. Then encourage them to come up with the worst ideas they can think of. Record all ideas for everyone to see. The goal is to make as long a list as possible all the while encouraging students to stretch for more ideas.
Once you have a list of bad ideas, review them, select one and then encourage the class to “mine for gold” by asking the following questions:
- What is positive about this idea? (record the responses)
- What is the potential for this idea? (record responses)
- What are the concerns of this idea? (record responses)
- Now take the concerns and reframe them in to “How might we…” statements
Here is a real life example:
A drinking glass company was not meeting its deliveries because the drinking-glass packers were slow. The packers were slow. The glasses were wrapped in newspapers – and the packers read the articles. The company called some employees together to solve the problem and came up with these ideas:
- Use blank newsprint
- Hire different packers
Then someone shouted out “poke their eyes out.” Obviously this is a bad idea. However, it led to reframing the question to, “How might we hire people who don’t read?” The solution – hire people who are visually impaired.
The positives of this idea were:
- Packing went faster; therefore, the company made more money
- There would be fewer broken glasses because people who are visually impaired had better touch sensitivity. Therefore, the company had less breakage which led to more profit
- New employment opportunities became available for the visually impaired in their city
17. Read to a Pet
Ask students to read to a pet and watch the pet’s reactions to their voice as they shifting their tone of voice, inflection, sound level, excitement, and other emotions according to what they are reading.
Encourage the students to come to class and report what they read, what they tried with their voice and what they observed.
- Bring a pet to class and ask the class to take turns reading to it to see what reactions they get. While one reads, the others observe and then report the pet’s reactions.
- What was it that made the pet react the most?
- Are there any similarities with reactions in people?
(note – may not work well with fish)
18. Build it and they will come
80% of the neurons in the brain connect to the hands. People more easily access a deeper level of imagination when their they use their hands.
Create various “building stations” in the class. Provide different building materials at each station: plastic water pipes, Popsicle sticks, cotton balls and pipe cleaners, Lego, etc. Add some glue, tape, string, scissors and/or markers to each station.
Divide the class into groups. Ask each group to go to a different station and build with the materials on the table.
Some ideas for what they could build:
- A solution for world hunger
- A solution for the Food Bank
- Build something/anything and then figure out its use
- Build something without talking to one another. Then discuss what it is or could be used for and how each person felt when building.
Ask each group to present what they’ve built.
- What is it?
- What makes it unique?
- How was each member of the group involved in the process?
Tell only half of the groups what to build; the other half of the class makes it up for themselves. Make observations about how the process and the outcome varies for groups that were told what to build versus the groups who made it up for themselves.