Eight Great Tricks to Fire Up Creative Thinking

Hi and welcome back to Attentionology for K – 5 Teachers!

Teachers can always use quick and easy ways to keep kids on task in any instructional setting.

One proven approach is to tap into students’ creative thinking.

Imagine that you have a magic hat on your desk.

What's under the magic hat today?

Imagine that you have a magic hat on your desk and when you look under it, you discover eight great tricks to fire up creative thinking.

Look under the magic hat to find eight great tricks to fire up creative thinking.

1. Ask creative questions that start the learning process.

For example, try leading into a Social Studies lesson with these two Qs: “How far can we go? How much can we know?”

2. Use short rhymes to catch kids’ attention. 

Short rhymes engage children in a creative learning process.

Picking up on a sample Social Studies lesson, let’s say that your class is learning about the country of Portugal. Here’s a short rhyme that would work:

Pick a port in Portugal

we haven’t visited yet.

Listen to the sound of music

floating from ships’ decks.

I hear maracas shaking

like the ones I have in school.

Learning about new places

makes us world-smart. Cool!

3. Mix in music to pick up a creative beat.

If, for example, your class is studying Portugal, you might add impact with the rhyme printed above by shaking some maracas

"I hear maracas shaking!"

“I hear maracas shaking!”

after you share the rhyme.

Ask the class if they know the name of your instruments.

Pass the maracas around the classroom to allow students to shake them and feel the creative beat.

4. Integrate all of the arts into your core curricula to fire up creative thinking.

During your Social Studies lesson about Portugal, shake, shake, shake, go your maracas, an instrument popular in Portugal and many other countries.

NOTE: Maracas and other simple, easy-to-play instruments are available in toy stores, even dollar stores, as well as from music retailers in store and online.

Consider including visual art into your Social Studies lesson by inviting students, for example, to draw pictures of your maracas at an appropriate time.

How else can you fire up creative thinking?

5. Ask probing questions.

Depending on the grade level you teach, you can boost students’ creative thinking skills by asking questions that require more thought.

For example, after you shake your maracas as part of your Social Studies lesson about Portugal, ask kids to guess what these “shakable” percussion instruments were first made from.

Answer: hollow dried gourds.

Then ask students to name other vegetables that might be turned into musical instruments and how.

Consider inviting kids to bring in vegetables or other natural materials that you can convert into musical instruments over time.

Ask students where Mini Mind Wandering Time will take them for a few minutes of escape from school work?

Hands on exploration is a way to learn by doing.

6. Cash in on virtual tours through the magic of online resources.

Maps are great, and hands-on exploration is a way to learn by doing.

Life is a journey, not a destination, but virtual tours take a big step beyond maps, letting teachers take students to places around the world.

One visit can prompt creative thinking about the next tour and encourage exploration.

Building global awareness and understanding of different people and cultures is key to education in the 21st century.

Make virtual visits seem real by encouraging kids to say…

– what they think they’d see in a place, like Portugal for example, if they ever get to enjoy an actual visit.

– what they’d like to see.

You can help them find answers online like the Lisbon Oceanarium and Maritime Museum.

7. Brainstorm with students.

Identify a problem that affects your class (such as the way some students distract others during study time) and ask for ideas on how to solve the problem.

– Write all of the ideas down on the board.

– Discuss the options for solving the problem.

– Take a vote about options to adopt for your “classroom code of conduct.”

– Post the new code of conduct in a prominent place in your classroom.

Revisit it periodically to keep students focused on the results of their brainstorming.

8. Tell a joke.

Share a funny at the beginning of the day and/or invite volunteers to share a joke with the class.

Laughing relaxes us and helps let creative ideas flow.

Humor also reduces stress which is a creativity-killer.

Tell your students that firing up creativity is like building muscle strength.

As Maya Angelou, the American poet, wrote, “You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.”

It’s good to fire up creative thinking…good for teachers and students.

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

Talk with you again soon,

Barbara The Lovable Poet

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  1. […] teachers can use quick creative “tools and tricks” to catch and keep kids’ attention for more than a few minutes at a […]

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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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