One of the biggest complaints we hear from teachers in our WeAreTeachers HELPLINE group on Facebook is that between standardized tests and scripted curriculum, there’s no longer time for creativity in the classroom. We hear you. That’s why we’ve gathered ideas for incorporating more classroom creativity into your day—and we’ve covered every grade level. Read on and then tell us how YOU make time for classroom creativity.
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Ways to Sneak in More Classroom Creativity in Grades K–2
1. During storytime, give students small notepads where they can sketch their responses to what you are reading.
2. Investigate the power of Readers Theater—performing stories can make them come alive!
3. Every day, sing a song during your morning meeting. Then, as a class, make up new words for one of your favorites.
4. Give students different textures to explore, liquids to mix, and objects to sort and weigh. Sit back and watch as the science connections emerge.
5. Gather a collection of bright, colorful puppets that students can use to tell about their weekend, answer a math problem, or share a response to a story.
6. As a class, invent an imaginary friend or pet that can only be “seen” in your classroom. Draw pictures, write stories, and make up skits about them.
7. Play classical music during quiet work or group time.
8. Bring your favorite childhood games into the classroom. Build a fort, go on a scavenger hunt, or look for “buried treasure” on the playground.
9. Don’t be afraid to be silly. Wear different colored socks, a crazy wig, or giant glasses. Talk in funny voices. Sprinkle students with “fairy dust” (a little bit of glitter mixed in water.)
10. Using recyclable materials, challenge students to build a giant structure you can use in your reading corner.
Ways to Sneak in More Classroom Creativity in Grades 3–5
11. Turn vocabulary words into art through tools like Wordle.
12. Take a walk around your school or neighborhood, letting students take pictures with a digital camera. Use the photographs as inspiration in writing workshop.
13. Use arrays to create an art project that demonstrates students understanding of multiplication.
14. Give students an engineering challenge, such as building a bridge out of Popsicle sticks.
15. Turn photographs into black and white images that kids can fill in to learn about color.
16. Try your hands at making beautiful quilted fraction art.
17. Challenge students to create dioramas in mason jars.
18. Make detailed travel brochures to learn about history or geography.
19. Introduce students to the work of artist Alberto Giacometti and invite them to make figurative sculptures that teach about shadow, too.
20. Teach students how to weave, knit, or sew and allow them to work on their projects during read aloud or quiet time.
Ways to Sneak in More Classroom Creativity in Grades 6–8
21. Gather a variety of yummy treats and challenge students to make edible models of the cell.
22. Try making digital scrapbook book reports instead of traditional written ones.
23. Memorize math formulas by setting them to music.
24. Use picture books to help students understand the elements of writing.
25. Have students pretend to be historical figures and act out famous speeches or conversations.
26. Keep a bucket of LEGOs on hand—whether you teach English, science, or math—that fidgety students can use to unleash their energy.
27. Challenge students to bring in foods they have never tried before. Have a first-taste party and then write about the experience.
28. Reserve one bulletin board or wall as a “graffiti” space for students to share their thoughts and feelings. Cover the space with butcher paper and let kids go to town!
29. Practice public speaking by having students memorize a joke to share with their classmates.
30. Collaborate on a class mural—on the ceiling!
Ways to Sneak in More Classroom Creativity in Grades 9–12
31. Invite English students to write a fictional response to a piece of literature instead of a straight analytical one.
32. Have math students create a board game that teaches or practices a concept you are learning in class.
33. In science, challenge kids to film a demonstration that can be posted on YouTube or Vimeo.
34. Watch funny commercials in a foreign language, then invite students to create their own advertisements in Spanish, French, or Mandarin.
35. Write Fakebook profiles for literary characters or figures from history.
36. Partner with an elementary school class and have your high schoolers plan a lesson for the little ones.
37. Read aloud! Even the big kids like it—grown-ups too.
38. Seize onto what’s happening in your students’ lives—perhaps your sophomores are learning to drive. Have them write about their fears about the driving test, study forces and centrifugal motion, or calculate how much gas money they will need over the course of their lives.
39. Consider setting aside a time each week for students to teach the lesson. Encourage them to use music, videos, and hands-on play.
40. Bust out the colored pencils and markers to make note-taking more fun—and easier for visual learners.
We’d love to hear. How do you make time for classroom creativity? Come and share in our WeAreTeachers HELPLINE group on Facebook.