Teaching Creativity


Logic can get you from A to Z; Creativity will get you everywhere!

~ Albert Einstein

This is a true story and a wake up call to anybody raising and educating children. Imagine a class of 6 year olds. Their acting assignment is to improvise using a scarf. One by one they take a turn, unable to imagine anything but items that can be made out of a scarf. No magic wands, no snakes, no swords are created. The students seem uncomfortable and unsure.

Why is it so hard for them to do what was second nature to previous generations? An explanation might be found in the way children spend their days. They are in school, or after school care, from 8 am to 6pm. During this time their activities are highly structured. They are told what to do and when to do it. No room for imaginative play. When they get home they have to finish their homework, maybe play on a device, and then it is bedtime.


These days, there seems to be no time to ride their bikes, play in their yards, or to just a kid. Every minute seems structured and supervised. Children seem bored and disinterested in even the most exciting activities offered to them. Every minute is used to squeeze in one more enrichment activity.

Imagination is the beginning of any endeavor. Without imaginations there is no growth in a society. Steve Jobs had to imagine the apple computer before it could become a reality. Thomas Edison imagined the electrical light bulb before he spend ten thousand experiments to actually create one. Our Founding Fathers imagined a free America before the Declaration of Independence was signed.
Imagination is a skill that needs to be valued. A child playing by themselves is doing the work of childhood. Your little daydreamer might make all the difference in the world one day.
What do we value more, spelling skills or imagination? Most would probably answer imagination. Yet we spend all our resources and efforts on spelling and other skills like it.
Our children’s need for imaginative play needs to be defended. They need opportunity to play and caregivers need to be patient.

When your children come to you and tell you they are bored. Don’t just create entertainment for them, let them create it themselves. Build areas of unstructured playtime into a child’s day. At school as well as at home. There should be learning breaks where children can relax their bodies and minds. Imagination is the foundation of what it means to be human. It is up to all of us to bring it back to live. Bring back the unicorns, pirates, and joys of imaginative play.


Play With Nature

Play With Nature

How much time do your students spend interacting with nature?  Think about it.  What once was an everyday occurrence for kids is now rare and sometimes even non-existent.  Students used to walk to school, climb trees and even got dirty.  Today children only spend about 1% of their time outdoors. They are usually corralled behind a chain link fence on a  concrete surface.  We allow them to have a jungle gym and a ball but they are completely removed from nature…

Why does nature matter?  Nature allows children to play and interact with the physical laws of the world.  To play with a pillbug means to explore the world of crustaceans.  To observe water and sand is to get experience with erosion and how substance change when they are mixed. Sticks are great for building (and sword fights).  When we give children toys, their function and purpose has been predetermined.  Nature provides an open-ended game, wakes curiosity, and has a generally calming effect on the mind and body.

When children are allowed to experience nature it is often within the context of a park or other area altered by man.  We tell them, ” Don’t touch this, don’t pick the flowers, please don’t pick up the rocks.”  We get upset when they want to interact with their environment in a tactile way.  Children’s brains are still developing and so the elementary grade student has to touch her environment, just as much as a baby has to mouth objects, in order to establish the brain mapping of our three-dimensional world. It is a child’s job to make mud pies, throw rocks, and play with sand and water.


Research has shown that playing with nature is an important contributor of healthy development in children.  The benefits of reconnecting with nature seem endless:

  • Increased concentration
  • Better performance on standardized tests
  • Reduction of ADD and ADHD symptoms
  • greater academic success
  • greater impulse control
  • stronger immune response

What can be done right now in our classrooms and homes to give children experiences with nature that are so vital to their well-being? One way to bring nature into your classroom is to create a nature center.  It could include shells, pinecones, sticks, pebbles , and other interesting things.  Allow children to build with the natures center. They will build little worlds of their own right in your classroom.  The center can be used for many academic activities but sometimes it helps to just use it as an area of play.  Even in our world of high pressure academics, our children sometimes need to be able to do what they were meant to do-play.