Creative Thinking with Kids
by Susan Stephenson, www.thebookchook.com
Ben was five - slender, freckled, determined. He was stalking around one section of the playground, pointing his stick at other kids and grinning in satisfaction.
"Hi Ben, what's that?" I asked, pointing to the stick.
He stared at me. "It's a stick."
"Yes, it's really a stick, but what are you pretending it is?"
He grinned and his eyes sparkled. "A gun!"
I tried to encourage my students to think creatively. Maybe time for a little prompting?
"Ah, a gun. What else could it be, do you think? A horse?"
He looked at the short stick clutched in his hand, and frowned. "No, it's a gun."
"It could anything we like, it could even be a duck!" I enthused. I took it from him gently and mimed walking my duck along.
Ben's eyebrows rose. He took that duck back, pointed it at my chest and BANG, shot me right in the heart. Deliberately, he lifted the barrel to his lips, blew smoke away and tucked the stick into the waist band of his shorts.
"It's a GUN," he said, and stalked off.
Have you noticed how sometimes we adults have an agenda in helping kids think creatively that kids don't share? I was trying to prompt a student to think creatively my way. He showed me, quite clearly, that he was perfectly capable of doing so. He used his imagination to transform a stick into a gun. He carried out the role of gun-user. He added detail to that role. He persisted in the face of my attempts to make the stick more pacific.
Kids, in fact, love to think creatively. As parents and teachers, I believe we need to share and encourage different kinds of creative thinking with the children in our care. As Alexandra K. Trenfor tell us:
We need to take care that, in our enthusiasm for sharing creative thinking with our kids, we don't discount the very real creativity they possess innately.
So let's encourage our children to imagine - to build mental images, dream and ask themselves the question: what if? Let's encourage them to be flexible in their thinking and to look at problems from as many different ways as possible. Let's encourage them to experiment and come up with alternatives. Let's ask them to design and invent and hypothesise. Let's do all those things in an atmosphere where respect for everyone's ideas is the norm, and where kids produce their own ideas and products as a matter of course.
Book Chook Challenge for Kids: September 13 is actually International Chocolate Day. What creative activities can kids devise around that theme? Some prompts:
* List all the chocolate bars you can think of.
* Design a wrapper and invent a slogan for a new kind of chocolate.
* How could chocolate be used to capture a dragon/save a life/defeat an enemy?
* List three reasons chocolate is good for us. List three reasons why chocolate is not good for us.
* What could be the problems caused by swimming in a lake of chocolate?
* Design a machine for making chocolate-coated something.
* Write a letter to your principal, persuading her/him to use chocolate as a reward system at school.
* Draw up a plan using chocolate to bring about world peace.
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