We all know that creativity is important. I mean, who doesn’t want to be one of those memorable teachers who not only teaches creatively but who encourages kids to think creatively as well? Unfortunately, creativity in the classroom seems to be on the decline. What’s the reason for this? I’ll give you a hint…it’s due to three little words that strike fear in a teacher’s heart more than indoor recess, an unexpected sick day, or an empty chocolate stash…that’s right: high stakes testing. Since testing doesn’t seem to be leaving any time soon, to be effective teachers, we need to “up” the creativity in our classroom, regardless of the pressure to constantly prep for the test.
Vary Your Teaching Modes and Questioning Strategies
Incorporate Creativity into Key Subjects like Math (Yes, Math!)
Add Creativity to Your Science Lessons
Make Social Studies Lessons Creative
In social studies, again, I like to use the textbook as a starting point for my lessons. Much of social studies is simply history, which is a story. So, this is how I teach it: I story-tell it, and then I ask the kids to role-play key people in our unscripted historical skits. For example, when my 5th graders studied the colonies, we learned how the King of England granted different types of charters. So, I chose a king, gave him a construction paper crown, sat him on a throne (okay, it was just a regular blue plastic chair) and appointed guards to announce those brave enough to approach the king to ask for a charter. I narrated the role-play (leading it ever so gently to where it needed to go) but allowed the king to decide to grant or not to grant the charter (the kids always love to exert their power and refuse the first few requests!).
Another example would be when my 4th graders learn about California government and how bills become laws. I put them into small groups (some belonging to the Senate and some to the Assembly), and their job was to write several possible bills for our classroom. After each house voted and approved the other house’s bills, then I acted as the governor and either signed the bills into law, vetoed them, or let them sit on my desk for 30 days (an automatic pass). The kids always love doing this activity and due to their skillful bill writing, these little devils have earned things like permission to sit with a friend on the last day of school (I was going to let them anyway…shhhh) or a 30-minute game time on Friday once a month (oh darn, I can try to get a few things ready for the next week!).
In addition to role-playing historical events, using open-ended projects adds creativity to social studies assignments. Although each project I assign has specific requirements, they also have a creative component that allows for student choice. My 4th graders have a big California Mission Project each year, and in addition to the written report, they are able to create either a brochure, mission model, storybook, PowerPoint, game-board, recipe book, and more to show what they have learned in a creative way. My 5th graders research a Native American group and are able to make a home, as well as several other options.
Incorporate Art, Music, Dance, and Drama Whenever Possible
I have taught every grade (K – 5th) at least once in my 18-year teaching career but am now settled in at 4th and 5th grades. I am passionate about teaching creatively and about designing resources that are rigorous and engaging. I have two kids, a son who is 23 and a daughter who is 18.I would love to connect with you! You can find me on Teachers Pay Teachers, Pinterest, Facebook, or on my blog.