Top ten tips to increase creativity in the classroom

By introducing a more creative approach to our classrooms we can help to equip children with skills fit for their future. Rather than just focussing on retaining information more creativity in the classroom will help to spark children's natural curiosity and develop an approach of self-learning to engage and inspire each individual child. Check out these top ten tips by best selling author and founder of The Creation station Sarah Cressall.

Sarah Cressall, Best Selling Author of 'Creative Sparks', Multi-Award-Winning Entrepreneur, Speaker, Founder of The Creation Station, shares ten tops tips and practical tips on how to increase creativity in the classroom. 

"I recently spoke at an IBM three day conference on the ‘Power of Creativity’. I spoke alongside Lego Educator John Pinkney from Raising Robots. We were chatting about how excited the children were about the new Lego Innovation centres in some of the schools. The feedback was the children felt they were going to have a chance to play, explore, discover and develop. My question is, why can’t we make every classroom generate that sense of excitement about learning? Rather than a sausage machine approach to learning what if we created the desire to learn. We know children ask lots of questions and creativity can help to continue their thirst for knowledge into adulthood. By introducing creativity into everyday learning, we can spark children's natural curiosity and develop an approach of self-learning to engage and inspire each individual child. Our team of over one hundred Creation Station franchise leaders believe in this approach too and we are committed to delivering fun, creative educational experiences across the UK within the local community and within schools. I hope you find the following tips and ideas to increase creativity in the classroom helpful.  

Creativity is often misunderstood to be just about artistic abilities. At its core, creativity is a life skill that crosses all subjects and enables both children and adults to Think, Create, Connect & Inspire.

Creative activities develop a wide range of skills

Creativity As A Skill

It is now generally acknowledged that creativity does not have to depend upon chance. Similarly, learning experiences that support creative behaviour do not have to be left to chance. Thinks of creativity as a skill, the more you practise it the more proficient you become.  

Paul Collard says “Creative skills aren’t just about good ideas, they are about having the skills to make good ideas happen.” He suggests creative skills should include 5 major areas:

  • Imagination
  • Being disciplined or self-motivated.
  • Resiliency
  • Collaboration
  • Giving responsibility to students. Have them develop their own projects.

Benefits Of Developing Creativity  

By incorporating a creative approach within education we can help children in a wide range of ways. Evidence shows that these benefits include:

to respect others, start a dialogue, experiment with materials, observe, find their voice, self-evaluate, make connections, express themselves, learn from their mistakes, clean up, reflect on their work, embrace diversity, persevere, have an opinion, appreciate beauty, break away from stereotypes, envision solutions, value aesthetics, see another point of view, innovate and be happy.

With the squeeze on resources and the reduced focus on creativity in the curriculum, we’ve put together the following tips to support teachers to increase creativity in the classroom and suggestions for planning learning experiences to nurture children’s creativity.

Here are ten tips on how to increase creativity in your classroom.

1. Learn by doing.

Creativity helps problem solving

Explore, discover and develop. Many of us learn and comprehend what we are doing when we have a hands-on approach.

“I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand” Confucius

Create a learning experience that engages each child to be actively involved.

Activities can include collaborative work, mind maps of questions or solutions they have. 

2. Encourage curiosity

Creation Station Art Of Science

Don’t do all the teaching!  If we provide children with the knowledge they need to answer a question we have given them, we are testing their ability to remember and recall information.

Children may be able to recall in an hour, a week or even a month.  However, if we spark their curiosity and encourage children to learn about the subject, they will discover the answer to questions they are intrigued by and interested in.  

To encourage children’s curiosity, ask the children to think about the subject they are learning about and to develop their own questions and answers. They could act out a news report, create a song or design a piece of artwork.  

3. Allow failure

There is so much pressure on children and teachers now to achieve results. We often don’t recognise the amount learnt when we don’t get it right the first time.  Learning through ‘what didn’t work’, creates valuable lessons. It is in these situations where we can support children to think through a problem or situation and develop their own self-learning. A constructive approach to feedback rather than a critical approach can also help motivate each child and give them the confidence to develop their creative idea further.

4. Ask open questions

The language we use will affect how much we help children open and how confident they will be to try different things. Asking your class questions and providing challenges for discussion can help children engage much more in a subject.

One study showed that over 90 per cent of the questions asked by teachers of junior high school social studies courses called only for recall. Few questions called for any kind of proactive thinking.

Saying to a child, “Tell me more”, rather than, “What is it?”, or “That’s wrong”, can help a child express their thoughts. Whether or not the result is the right or wrong answer, by asking the child to tell you more you will be able to understand their thought processes. A wrong answer provides an opportunity to explore why there is a difference and to look at the gap in their knowledge. If the answer is correct, when a child is asked to explain it, they gain a deeper understanding of the subject. Encouraging children to assess situations in a constructive manner rather than a negative viewpoint can help them find positives in their situation and own work.

5. Embrace creativity within the everyday learning

Embedding a creative approach on a daily basis to deliver the curriculum will help to support children’s thinking and creative skills.

Provide opportunities for children to create original work, independent learning, self-initiated projects, and experimentation.

Essentially, these materials provide progressive warm-up experiences, procedures which permit one thing to lead to another, and activities which make creative thinking both legitimate and rewarding.

6. Respect each child’s input

Creation Station After School Club Collaboration

In order to encourage children to engage in creative thinking activities, we need to be respectful of the unusual questions and solutions they say. Nothing is more rewarding to the curious child than to find the answer to his or her question.

By collaborating and valuing the input we can show children that their ideas have value. This is done by listening to their ideas, considering them, testing them, using them, communicating them to others, and giving them credit for their ideas. It is important to give credit for self-initiated learning and when people have listened and respected other points of view.

7. Not everything needs to be evaluated

Developing children’s learning takes time and practise. By being assessed children can feel under pressure to always come up with the ‘right’ answer first time. It is helpful to provide chances for children to learn, think, and discover without threats of immediate evaluation.

8. Support one idea to lead to another idea

One idea often leads to another idea and within this creative thinking process the child is creating connections and owning their own journey of learning. Providing opportunities for learning journeys to be created supports each child to create their own fully engaged learning adventure.

9. Introduce sensory stimuli

Activities that stimulate the senses can trigger different responses and connections in each child. By introducing sounds, colours, shapes, tactile objects, stories and movement etc, individual ideas and thoughts are developed.

Research suggests that the best creativity ties in with the emotions of the learner.

10. Keep the options open

In The Creation Station workshops, we start with an idea or a concept to explore. This way each child’s imagination is sparked in a way that relates to them. We don’t say, “Here is what can you make”, as this makes it very hard for anyone to do something different. It is as if the object shown is the ‘right’ answer. It is their journey of thinking and problem solving that we want to encourage, recognise and value. It has been shown to be helpful when you say, “I’d love to see your own ideas that no one else in the class may have thought of.” This allows them to know it’s ok to produce original or unusual ideas. If it’s a written piece of work you can add in, “Do pay careful attention to your spelling and grammar.”

Approaches in the classroom.

There are different models to develop creativity, here are a couple of examples you might find helpful. 

The Osborne-Parnes model is oldest, widely accepted model. It is often used in education and business improvement to promote creativity. Each step involves a divergent thinking pattern to challenge ideas, and then convergent thinking to narrow down exploration. It has six steps:

  • Mess-finding. Identify a goal or objective.
  • Fact-finding. Gathering data.
  • Problem-finding. Clarifying the problem
  • Idea-finding. Generating ideas
  • Solution-finding. Strengthening & evaluating ideas
  • Acceptance-finding. Plan of action for Implementing ideas

The Incubation Model  was developed by E. Paul Torrance and it involves three stages:

  1. Heightening Anticipation: Make connections between the classroom and student’s real lives. “Create the desire to know”.
  2. Deepen Expectations: Engage the curriculum in new ways. Brainstorm and create opportunities to solve a novel problem.
  3. Keep it going: Continue the thinking beyond the lesson or classroom. Find ways to extend learning opportunities at home or even the community.

Before a Lesson.

Before the next workshop make it relevant to the children lives to create the desire to know.

  1. Look at something from several different perspectives; psychological, sociological, physical or emotional points of view.
  2. Encourage thinking about questions before the workshop happens.
  3. Explore possible outcomes based on the limited information available.
  4. Encourage the anticipation of an exciting journey about to take place to help them explore, discover and develop.

During a Lesson.

Help your students dig deeper, examine information from different viewpoints, become involved in the challenges raised, puzzle over perplexing information, make and correct guesses and have fun.

Having fun at Creation Station
  1. Encourage positive creative and constructive analysis rather than negative acceptance of limitations.
  2. Develop the awareness and concerns of any challenges.
  3. Collaborate to explore ideas around missing elements and other possibilities.
  4. Encourage discussion of ongoing predictions as new information is acquired.
  5. Encourage ‘what if’ speculations and visualize possible outcomes if certain factors changed.

After a Lesson.

Activities at the end of a lesson can be designed to keep the creative thinking processes going and to stimulate further interest to obtain information and to reflect and draw insights from such information

  1. Develop constructive responses.
  2. Encourage going beyond the obvious.
  3. Elaborate some element through drawings, dramatics, movements, modelling etc.
  4. Search for a number of further solutions.
  5. Support the desire for future work on the projects.
  6. Reflect, review and summarise the information that is learnt.
  7. Learn from each other.

Traditionally the classroom was where we taught to ‘put information into children.' By incorporating a more creative approach to teaching you will be supporting and moving towards an approach that helps children own their own journey of learning.

This approach underpins the work we do at The Creation Station. Our creative preschool classes, family holiday classes and the school workshops and after-school clubs are unpinned by this approach. We have a team of over one hundred trained, DBS checked and health and safety trained Creation Station franchise owners. Over 950,000 children and families have already been inspired by this approach and due to the success and popularity, we now provide parties, event entertainment, adults and senior citizen creative workshops.

If you would like to find out about booking The Creation Station to come along to your setting, contact us.

If you don’t have a Creation Station in your area, and you or someone you know would love to help nurture creativity in your community, click to find out about running your own Creation Station franchise.

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