Creativity Improves Learning
Learning Improves Creativity
You can use World Creativity and Innovation Day, April 21 and 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 and their strength in using 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.
An approach: Why not review the following list of suggestions – select 5 you like, and from the 5, choose 1 to modify to suit your class.
Extra bonus: figure out a way the activity may help students support meeting the Sustainable Development Goals – and post your activity here for the world to see. (How’s that for a meaningful creative exercise?)*
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 the hands point to is your activity for the hour. If it is 2:30, for example, you might have “Stretch a magnificent 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.
Create activities, or start with these:
- “Stretch a magnificent 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 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 whiteboard. Place the large white board in a communal area. Let students’ creativity take its 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 a 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. Keep the flow of generating ideas going by accepting (rather than judging) anyone’s input during the ideation phase. Write down all the ideas because all are welcome. Go for a quantity over quality.
Then, come back afterward to see where the energy is. Select ideas that are involving, compelling, and exciting. Choose one to make real, and then do it. Great way to celebrate WCIW – new ideas and new decisions… in action!
6. Invention Show + Tell
When 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 one 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 good 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.
8. Inspiration Board, of a different sort
Ask students to write unique 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 unusual 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 compelling, 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 a whole school of clowns!
- A 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 the music they make 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. Then challenge them to make the best music possible.
Encourage the students next 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 the student 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 photomontage and ask others to guess their goal or dream. Once the guessing is over, 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 huge 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 errors. To encourage risking and building trust among classmates, celebrating mistakes is a great thing to do! Learning from them 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 celebrate with them and learn from them, with your help.
Positioning mistakes as learning is an essential aspect of this idea.
Sometimes great ideas come from bad ideas. Sometimes ideas are lost because they aren’t much considered. 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. Thus, 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 shift 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 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 to 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 vary for groups that were told what to build versus the groups who made it up for themselves.
Share your ideas in the Comment Section Below!
*Many people contributed to creating this list over the years, sadly, the reference to who was involved has been lost. Moving forward, we want to keep track of people who help the world out with their ideas for WCIW and WCID.
What are your suggestions for celebrating WCID and WCIW at schools? Help create a list of ideas to stimulate school-related WCID and WCID activities.
Enter your information in the comments below. Accepted ideas will be posted (no advertising, easy to read) with links.