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Saturday, June 16, 2012

Encouraging Creativity

Kids today are not as creative as they have been in the past. Chalk it up to mindless video games and cartoons (did you know that 74% of all infants and toddlers have watched TV before the age of 2!) or maybe because imagination is not something that can be measured by standardized testing, therefore is not encouraged in some schools. I can remember my sister and I making up crazy games to entertain ourselves  when we were little-once we made a whole cadre of paper dolls and played with them on our staircase for hours. Unfortunately, (and I know there are exceptions), most of our students don't have that same creative way of thinking. We had a hurricane a few years ago that took out power across the state. My friends who had children said the worst part was-not worrying about enough supplies, not being without information about what was going on---but trying to entertain the kids for a whole week with no electrical devices!


Anyway, I think it's really important to lay that foundation for skills in creativity. It can be applied to all different subject areas and I think is particularly important in creating effective writers. A few ideas for incorporating creativity in the classroom. (Just a sidenote-sometimes we have to even be creative in the objectives we attach to these activities because sadly, creativity is not typically in our standards. You can always bring it back to a writing activity-we painted, but then we wrote about it; we wrote a script then made the Claymation to go with it).


1) Divergent Art-love this! I will do this activity with them as a morning warm-up/bellringer activity at least once per week. You give them a shape, any shape and they have to use that shape in their design. It often takes awhile for them to really comprehend what you are asking them to do and I often consciously teach them to try to come up with something different than anyone else thought of. A few examples-- the black line is half of a square:






2) Invent things! If you are doing planets, use what you learned and invent a new one. If you are learning about mammals, create a new mammal. This is a great way for them to apply what they are learning in a different way. You can assess what they have learned-mammals have fur, but it also gives them a chance to really put that imagination into action.

3) Vary the medium for self-portraits. Many teachers, especially in the younger grades so some sort of self-portrait as school begins, maybe something to hang up for Open House. Have the kids draw one or paint one, but then use different materials as well. Have them walk outside and find things in nature to use. Or food is a favorite-they really have to think about how they are going to represent their features using what is given to them.



4) Digital storytelling-there are plenty of programs out there for this. I use Pixie 2 -the kids draw their illustrations, type the text and then can narrate their feature. It incorporates so many skills! I wish I could show examples of this-I just can't get those files to upload correctly here.

5) Take the old version and make it new. Instead of a family tree-what other designs could we use? Instead of a Gingerbread House, what could we make? If we had to design a new American flag, what could it look like?



Anything you can do to encourage the use of imagination will help take these kiddos a long way. If nothing else maybe they will be able to better entertain themselves when the electricity goes out! :)



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