A Guest Blog Post by Jeanne Muzi
Need some new ideas for CREATIVITY KICKERS:
Below are 10 quick and easy activities that you can add to your Cultivating Creativity Tool Belt so your elementary students have more opportunities to practice and develop their creative thinking skills. These activities can be completed in pockets of 5, 10, 15 or 30 minutes with little prep and can be incorporated with or without technology integration:
- Question Creators: Create a box of images (posters, photographs, magazine cut outs, maps, book covers, illustrations, google images, etc.) or a file of images students can open on a laptop, iPad or Smartboard. Students choose one and write 5 questions they have about the image. Students will then work with a partner to evaluate, classify, improve and prioritize questions. This activity works for early finishers and in differentiated centers.
- Who Am I?: Collect small photos, drawings, paintings of people (famous/not famous, old/young, men/women, present/historic, etc.- In a box or folder, or digitally). Students will choose one person, make observations, seek evidence, draw conclusions and write the story of their person- all ideas welcome! If you need to extend this, ask the students to add a speech or thinking bubble to their person: What are they saying? What story are they telling? What questions are they asking?)
- Twosies: Collect postcards, old calendars, catalogs, mailings, Time for Kids, etc. Clip pictures, laminate them and add them to a box labeled with the word, Twosies. Students select two pictures and write/discuss how they are the same and different. Partners can do this as they each pick one photo and compare/contrast together. Students can also use Twosies to create Venn diagrams or T charts. Connect this activity explicitly to specific subjects by adding words and pictures from content area units you are studying. This can also be extended to “Threesies” and “Foursies” as a quick differentiation option.
- Student Created Knowledge Cards: Following a lesson, students reflect on what they just learned and then create a review card. Each student will write a question on one side of an index card and the answer on the other. During Class Meeting Time, or at other times during the day, select a card, read and discuss with students. Work with the students to improve the question and/or answer. This is a great opportunity to provide feedback and guide students to think of new ideas about what is “important” in what they are learning about.
- _____________ is the Answer, What is the Question?: Provide students with a word/number/concept, saying, for example, “If 12 is the answer, what is the question?” Students must develop questions for that answer such as “What is 6+6?” or “What is 10+2?” Use this strategy for science, social studies, math, language arts, current events, etc. The more you practice this, the more skillful students become at developing their own questions. This also provides teachers with a chance to gather insight into some of the out of the box thinkers who populate our classes.
- Lights, Camera, Action: When reviewing a concept/event/historic person, select 3 students (one director and two actors) to create a “movie” on the spot and act it out for the class- 2 minute maximum-Just the Facts! This is an activity that gets better and better as students learn and practice quick brainstorming, collaboration and creative expression. The students can use an iPad or phone to capture their movie to reflect upon later.
- Pick a G.O., Any G.O.!: No matter how young or old your students are, make sure they gain lots of experience with a range of graphic organizers: Venn diagrams, Problem/Solution grids, KWLs, Concept Maps, T charts, etc. Then create a Pick a G.O.! Work Station where students can choose the graphic organizer that suits their objective best. Make sure they realize the value of capturing their thinking and that one size never fits all when utilizing a graphic organizer- It is beneficial for students to build up an arsenal so they can decide their goals and purpose, and choose the best tool.
- Q Cards: Create a series of cards and keep together as a set. Pull out the Q cards to lead a whole class questioning mini-lesson, during guided reading or math time or with individual students to have them take some time to question, ponder and wonder. Q card questions include- How? Are there? I wonder when? If it were possible? Why are? How could it? If? Do you? What would it take to? Where did? Would you rather? Why is? I’m wondering if? What is it that? What is your opinion about? Is it right to? Can? Who could? When is? What could happen if? Why is it that? How can? When is it? The students can and should add more question cards to their set. Play pick a card, any card, Go Fish or One for you One for me with the Q cards.
- Yes, And…Cards: Ask one student to make a firm declaration of something the class has been learning about (for example, “The Magic Tree House Book Series is the best book series ever for fourth graders!”). Select five students to stand next to the student who made the declaration and give each one a card. Each student must connect to the original statement by reading their card and adding to it. The cards are: 1. Yes and… 2. Yes, but… 3. No… 4. What if… 5. How come? This is another creative thinking activity that requires practice.
- The Big Ten Questions: Place an object that connects to a book, experiment, historic person or event into a bag. Explain to students that you (the teacher) can only answer Yes and NO, but they will have to figure out what is in the bag. They will work with a partner or small group to develop the best 10 questions in order to figure out what the object is. With practice, the students will craft more effective questions.
Check out Part 2 tomorrow with 10 more quick and easy activities!
By Jeanne Muzi (@MuziLearningLab)
Jeanne Muzi is the Elementary Enrichment Specialist/Gifted Education Teacher at Lawrence Township Public Schools in Lawrenceville, NJ. Her focus is on project based learning, higher order questioning and helping students develop creative problem solving skills. A former NJ State Teacher of the Year and NOAA Teacher at Sea, Jeanne has presented a wide range of workshops and professional learning experiences at schools, conferences, forums and conventions.