Catch Attention with a Garden of Creativity

Hi and welcome back to Attention-ology for K – 5 Teachers!

Here’s a quick way to catch and keep your students’ attention…ask them a question that poses an artistic array of answers about posies!

The question…When is a garden outside our classroom window more than a collection of colorful flowers? 

Look at the garden of creativity!

As students begin to ponder your question, invite them to gather with you near the classroom window that looks out on the garden.

Point to the garden and ask your class to silently observe the flowers. Tell the students that you want them to look for a garden of creativity.

Some may question what you mean by a garden of creativity. Reply that you’re looking for ideas on how students might see the garden through the eyes of a poet or storyteller, a painter, a dancer, an actor, or a music-maker. Now, what could the garden be besides the bed of pretty pansies (or other flowers) planted outside?

Allow some time for students to spontaneously offer thoughts and suggestions. Leave room for open-ended conversation to encourage creative thinking.

Then take the lead and tell the class that you have some answers of your own PLUS a choice of activities to follow, as detailed below. (Please note that these activities are age-appropriate for fourth and fifth grade students but may be modified for younger children.)


A garden is more than a collection of planted flowers when we choose to make it…

♣  a garden of wishes to write a poem or story about, beginning with the line: If flowers were wishes, each blossom in this garden is…

Distribute notebook paper to your class and ask students to brainstorm about how flowers might be like wishes before they begin their poetry or story writing. Help prompt their creative thinking with some ideas that your students can visualize. For example, dandelions are considered to be weeds by many people while others see beauty in the simple yellow flowers. Could a garden of dandelions be like dreams that others made fun of until the dreams had happy endings? Do puffy dandelion seeds blow away into dreams when the wind carries them aloft? Could a garden of multi-colored flowers be like a dream that people of different countries and cultures can live in a peaceful world? What flowers might have blossomed in the dream gardens of a famous historical figure, like Martin Luther King?

When students finish their poetry or story writing, give them time to illustrate their writing. They can return to the window that overlooks the school garden and illustrate it or they can create an illustration from their imagination.

A garden is more than a collection of flowers when we choose to make it…

♣ a subject for a landscape picture to grid, draw and color.

Most elementary schools, at least in the US, consider art to be “a special.” But, as any K – 5 teacher knows, budding artists abound in every class and almost every child loves to escape the classroom for time outdoors. Why not schedule another arts integration activity that connects picture making with math!

Distribute clipboards, graph paper and pencils to your class and lead them to your outdoor garden. Ask students to sketch out the flower bed by section on the graph paper, noting the proportion of flowers to flower box or garden plot, etc. When you return to class, invite the kids to color the garden they’ve drawn using color by sections to create an original picture of a flower garden, one that may or may not be true to life.

A garden is more than a collection of flowers when we choose to make it…

♣ the inspiration for dance, music and drama.

After your class has closely observed the outdoor garden, distribute colored construction paper, scissors, glue and markers for students to cut and assemble flowers that resemble those in the garden. When their flowers are complete, you can invite students to stand in a group and wave the flowers as if they were blowing in the wind.

In addition, over a period of time that you designate, you may invite students to form groups to create, rehearse and present their constructed flowers in small in-class productions, using a section of the room that you temporarily designate to be “center-stage.”

Let your student groups decide how they want to present their flowers, perhaps through movement, with music (students can sing a-capella or use simple and available instruments, like tambourines or some may choose to do a flower rap). Some of the boys in your class may prefer not to construct and present flowers but rather to create and dramatize weather elements such as the wind blowing through the garden.

It’s important to note that you don’t have to be a professional artist yourself to catch and keep the attention of K – 5 students with art-based instruction. When elementary school teachers link art activities with key curriculum areas, they open the door to focused learning. The possibilities for integrating the arts into your instructional goals are as endless as a beautiful circular border garden – the garden of creativity.

Remember, you don’t need to be a magician to work magic in instructional settings!

Talk with you next week,

BarbaraThe Lovable Poet

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Posted in Attentionology for K-5 Teachers
Barbara Cleary has been serving as a resource to hundreds of educators for more than 25 years. An award-winning writer, producer, teacher, and trainer, Barbara’s focus is on offering easy, fun tools and tricks that support K-5 curricula and assist teachers with classroom management.
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