Creative Thinking Activities for Students
As a child, I had an avid imagination. I see the same traits in my own children today; I think creativity just comes naturally to most kids. Using Creative Thinking Activities with students is a great way to encourage problem-solving, teamwork, outside of the box thinking and resilience.
Creative thinking is important
Creativity should not be underestimated. Many people assume that creative thinking is limited to artistic expression – the ability to draw an interesting or beautiful picture or excelling in the performing arts. However, creative thinking actually involves the use of imagination, communication skills, problem-solving, mathematics, scientific thinking, and interpreting information. Open-ended scenarios are a great way to get children’s creative juices flowing. Choices, comparisons, entertaining new ideas, and formulating personal responses to these problems are all important ingredients in creative thinking.
Creative problem solving promotes cognitive development
Creative problem-solving activities help children to develop attention skills and cognitive learning. Their imagination is in full use and it encourages them to come up with new ideas and to think outside of the box. Providing activities where there are no right or wrong answers frees students to be bold and audacious with their thinking. You can read more about the brain and its role in thinking here.
Creative thinking is a 21st-century skill
You may have heard the term 21st-century skill before. Since the 1980s, governments across the world have been researching the skills required for success for current and future generations. The traits put forward as 21st-century skills vary depending on the study, but a common theme throughout this research is the importance of creativity, innovation, and problem-solving skills. Read more about 21st-century skills here.
Educationalist Sir Ken Robinson was asked, “Why do you think creativity is especially important right now?”
The challenges we currently face are without precedent. More people live on this planet now than at any other time in history. Technology is advancing at a headlong rate of speed. It’s transforming how people work, think, and connect. It’s transforming our cultural values. We’re going to need every ounce of ingenuity, imagination, and creativity to confront these problems. So being creative is essential to us; it’s essential for our economy. At the moment, instead of promoting creativity, I think we’re systematically educating it out of our kids.
Sir Ken Robinson spoke in more detail about this in an extremely popular TED talk – over 16 million views. It is entitled: Do Schools Kill Creativity. I would highly recommend watching it from beginning to end!
Our Creative Thinking Task Cards
Our Creative Thinking Task Cards are designed to provide many opportunities for creative thinking in your classroom. By working to solve the problem in each scenario, you challenge students to use ‘out of the box’ and imaginative ideas to communicate their solution to others. For example:
- How could a watch, an umbrella and a wheelbarrow help rescue a cat stuck in a tree?
- How could a basketball, a broom and a garden gnome help set a trap to catch a burglar?
Tips For Use
There are many ways to use these creative thinking activity cards. I designed this resource as an oral language, group work, listening, oral presentation and thinking activity.
- Print, laminate, and cut out each household item and scenario card
- Split your class into groups of four or five.
- Ask one student from each group to come forward and choose three item cards (you can choose more or less if you prefer).
- Read a scenario to the class, and explain their task: “As a group, you need to use your three items to solve this problem.”
- Explain that one student from each group is chosen at random to share their solution to the class.
- This ensures that each team member takes part in the discussion and listens to the other group members ideas.
- Let the students know how long they have to come up with their solution – usually, 3-5 minutes will be enough
- Once the time is up, choose one group to begin their explanation, and one student from that group to present their ideas.
- Use this as an opportunity to reinforce listening and presenting skills.
- Explain that the person who is sharing needs to explain 1) What their three items were, and 2) How they would use these to solve the problem.
- Discuss with the class what makes a good listener (listening with our eyes as well as our ears, arms folded so we don’t fidget, and so on).
- Discuss with the class what makes a good speaker (clear voice, eye contact, tone of voice, speed, and so on).
- Once one student from each group has shared their solutions, it is up to you whether you declare a winner.
- Collect all items and begin the process again!
You can find our Creative Thinking Task Cards here.
Digital Creative Thinking Activities
Go paperless with our Creative Thinking Digital Writing Activities. This Google Resource includes 30 interactive creative thinking scenarios for students to solve. Once three items have been chosen (independent thinking + choice!), the student can type a creative explanation of how they solved the problem. See more here.
Independent Literacy Activities
The purpose of our Independent Literacy Activities resources is to provide activities for your students to complete while you are working with other groups. choices are provided to give your students agency, and a range of activities are provided so students can practice a variety of important literacy skills. Activities include reading, writing prompts, figurative language and other word work activities, and a range of creative challenges that require higher-order thinking.
Did you say freebie?
We have put together a free sample of our Creative Thinking Activity cards so you can try them out in your classroom.
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Onwards and upwards!