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Creative Thinking

Many theorists in the field of Gifted Education include Creativity in their explanation of giftedness. (See Renzulli, Sternberg, Torrance, and Gagne, for starters.) Renowned geniuses such as Leonardo da Vinci and Benjamin Franklin certainly exhibited a remarkable ability to generate many, various, unique, and detailed ideas, a number of which they also brought to fruition. Society values the benefits, i.e. products, of creative productivity, even if society doesn't always also value the quirks of the creative personality.

I do some creative thinking activities with my gifted students each year and wanted to share some of their work with you today. When we do this type of activity, I also always include a conversation with them about Creativity, what it is, why it's important, jobs that require it, and examples from their own lives and the world. I want to share their creative thinking examples with you through the lens of E. Paul Torrance's work in Creativity. Torrance, the "Father of Creativity" talked about four elements to creativity: Fluency (# of ideas), Flexibility (variety of ideas), Originality (uniqueness of ideas), and Elaboration (details of ideas). All of this is the basis for his Torrance Test of Creative Thinking, a tool that is sometimes used in the identification process for gifted programs across the country/world.

The photos below come from some of my 2nd and 4th grade students. The first 14 images, as an example of Fluency (# of ideas), all come from the same 4th grade girl. While the other kids used their time to create 2, 3, or 4 ideas, she had ideas pouring out of her at a remarkable rate. If we'd had another 45 minutes, I've no doubt she would've come up with about 14 more ideas!

4 bowl A Snail Waitress AT.jpg 4 bowl The Big Tongued Cat AT.jpg 4 bowl The Chameleon Eating Monster AT.jpg
- - - A Snail Waitress - - - The Big-Tongued Cat - - - The Chameleon-Eating Monster - - -

4 bowl This is a Fat Cat AT.jpg 4 lines It's a Bar AT.jpg 4 lines The Devil AT.jpg
- - - This is a Fat Cat - - - - - - - - It's a Bar - - - - - - - - The Devil - - -

4 lines Happy B-Day Giraffe AT.jpg 4 lines This is a House in the Moonlight AT.jpg
- - - Happy Birthday Giraffe - - - - - - - - - - - - - This is a House in the Moonlight - - -

4 lines Monster House AT.jpg 4 lines Lassoing Octopus AT.jpg
- - - Monster House - - - - - - - - - - - - - Lassoing Octopus - - -

4 multi Fancy Pants Adventures AT.jpg 4 multi Flying Boogers AT.jpg
- - - Fancy Pants Adventures - - - Flying Boogers - - -

4 multi Hungry Shapes AT.jpg 4 multi Yummy Fish!!! AT.jpg
- - - Hungry Shapes - - - - - - - - Yummy Fish!!! - - -

In these examples, she clearly also exhibits Flexibility (variety of ideas), as well as Originality (nearly every idea was unique, i.e. another student had never done it before). In a few cases she also demonstrates Elaboration.

Here are a few more samples from other students that exemplify Originality (ideas I'd never seen before in all my years of doing this activity with students). Some of these are also excellent examples of Elaboration.

4 multi Mirror vs. Laser.jpg 4 bowl The 4 Headed Monster.jpg 4 bowl Friendly Monkey.jpg
- - - Mirror vs. Laser - - - - - - The 4-Headed Monster - - - - - - Friendly Monkey - - -

2 angle Alien Invasion.jpg 2 angle Game of Chicken Throw.jpg
- - - Alien Invasion - - - - - - - - - - Game of Chicken Throw - - -

2 lines Aliens are Attacking.jpg 2 lines Game of Tempole Torture.jpg
- - - Aliens are Attacking - - - - - - - - - - Game of Tempole Torture - - -

2 spiral Rich Person's Couch.jpg 2 spiral A Tangled Up Slinky.jpg 2 spiral The King of Rickey Burch.jpg
- - - Rich Person's Couch - - - - - A Tangled-Up Slinky - - - - - The King of Rickey Burch - - -

If you'd like to examine larger images of these pictures, just click here: Creative Thinking.pdf.

This is a fun and revealing activity to do with kids of all ages. You can create any sort of line, squiggle, shape on a page, make multiple copies, and let them have at it! The most creative thinkers in your class can become apparent through this activity, and with that knowledge you may then want to offer them some more creative outlets within or beyond your class. Competitions such as Future Problem Solvers, Odyssey of the Mind, Camp Invention, or Destination Imagination are all excellent opportunities. Learn about Creative Problem Solving or SCAMPER and teach the techniques to your students. Offer some creative differentiation on assignments. Make sure a window of opportunity is always open in your classroom.

In what ways do you encourage and nurture Creativity in your students/children?

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