How to Think Outside the Box with Creativity Exercises

Three students working on a project together.
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Encouraging creative thinking inspires students to ask questions, try new things and apply ideas to practical situations. Use individual and group based activities to open the door to innovation and build individual confidence. Incorporate creativity activities into everyday subject matter like English, science and art. The result will be increased interest in learning and the opportunity for each student to believe in her power to be creative in a variety of situations.

1 Help Students Map Their Minds

Use a mind-mapping exercise to help students overcome mind blocks to creativity. Joyce Wycoff, author of the book "Mindmapping," explains that a mind map encourages creativity by stimulating the brain to think in different patterns. Put a concept in the center of a large piece of paper and have your students surround the paper, each holding a marker. Ask them to brainstorm ideas and write them as offshoots to the concept. Have them add images and draw connections between ideas. You can use this to help them create a project, study for tests or organize a research paper.

2 Use Dramatic Play to Entice Students to be Creative

Play a game of charades to empower students to use their minds and bodies to help their team win the game. Select words that apply to a new topic you wish to introduce to the class. For example, if you want to discuss the history of your state, pick words that illustrate historical events your class will study. Divide the class into teams and ask volunteers to act out the words. Have students guess what the words are, and write the words on the board after students guess them correctly so they can see a complete list at the end of the game. Go back and forth between teams until all words have been used. When the game is over, ask the class to guess what the words have in common.

3 Run a Relay by Building a Sentence

Invigorate your students and stimulate creative thinking by facilitating a sentence relay race. The goal of the race is to see which team can compose a sentence on a given subject. Begin by taping large pieces of paper to the wall and line up student teams about 5 feet from the wall. Give the teams one marker and a subject for the sentence. Tell them the object of the race is to build a sentence, one word at a time. The first student in each team will begin the sentence with a word. He will then run the marker to the next teammate and continue the process until each student has added a word to the sentence. The sentence relay will encourage quick thinking and stimulate creativity. Use the race to introduce a social studies concept or to reinforce the plot of a story for English class.

4 Create a Career Exploration Shield

Help your students use creativity in an art project to explore career interests. Give each student a tabloid size piece of paper and markers to create a career shield. Have them divide the piece of paper into four quadrants. Label each quadrant with topics or questions. For example, questions could pertain to a fantasy career, idol or role model, favorite hobby and biggest strength or talent. Ask students to use images, artwork and keywords to address each topic. When the task is completed, have students examine the four quadrants and select a career that best addresses the information they supplied. Ask them to describe their shield to the class. You can even have them write a short paper to further explain a potential career path and what it would take to accomplish their goals.

Dr. Kelly Meier earned her doctorate from Minnesota State Mankato in Educational Leadership. She is the author and co-author of 12 books and serves as a consultant in K-12 and higher education. Dr. Meier is is a regular contributor for The Equity Network and has worked in education for more than 30 years. She has numerous publications with Talico, Inc., DynaTEAM Consulting, Inc. and Kinect Education Group.