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Improve Student Creative Thinking and Writing Skills

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A St. Patrick's Day Creative Thinking and Writing Activity

This fun Shamrock writing and problem-solving activity is a great way to increase student problem-solving and creative skills. Perfect for an easy March creative writing activity.

Develop the Creative and Problem-Solving Mind With Transformations and Writing-Shamrock Style

Your students can’t get enough creative and problem-solving practice? They are building skills for the 21st-century job market.  Jobs will belong to those who have solid academic skills, and… to those who have creative and problem-solving skills.

What is A Transformation?

I did another post on the power of transformations way back in October when we did a pumpkin transformation.  We learned that Transformations gained a lot of popularity back in the late 80’s early 90’s from a program called Talents Unlimited. Basically, a transformation is an object turned into something else.  Like a square can turn into an car body. A triangle can turn into a pyramid. You get the idea.

Use a Transformation To Teach Creative and Problem-Solving Skills

It’s pretty easy to see how a transformation can increase your creative thought. But we are going to take it a step further.  How? By getting rid of some of the obvious answers students will come up with.

light bulb brainstorming graphic

Step 1- Brainstorming

Beginner Level Brainstorming-

You know the drill. Remind the class that there are no wrong answers.  They come up with as many varied and unusual things a shamrock can become.  You write them down so they can refer to the list later.

Advanced Level Brainstorming-

This is going to drive your students nuts but Everyone needs to contribute at least one ideas. There needs to be at least 20-30 ideas on the board and any of the answers given CAN  NOT be used. (But don’t tell them that until you have 20-30 ideas on the board.) In other words, you are getting rid of lazy ideas so that they can find really creative and unusual ideas.

PS...Beginner Level Brainstorming-

 Instead of eliminating the first 20-30 ideas let the beginner pick from those.  Or they can come up with their own. I would say don’t do the advanced level with any class under 4th grade unless it’s the end of the year or you’ve done a lot of modeling and a lot of practice.  I once tried it with 3rd graders but I actually had some kids cry…. MEAN TEACHER… Their little brains were not ready for it.)

Step 2- Select Your Idea And Ask Some Questions

This is where it gets fun.  And it should also get real quiet.  You select your brainstorm idea and then you start to ask questions about the new object.  It is pre-writing/drawing at its best.


Here are some questions you can ask your new object

-Where is it located? Inside, outside? Now in time? In the past? In the future? How did it get there?

-What is it used for? What is its purpose? How did it come to be in existence?

-Who or what uses it? Is it to help or harm?

-What color is it?   

What is it worried about? What is it happy about? What will it do tomorrow and what problems will it have?

These are just a few questions that will help to start the story process in the brain.  They will give this new object a story.

Step 3 -Draw

This is a creative and problem-solving skill building.  When we draw, our brain is planning, analyzing and problem-solving.  It is starting to bring the story about our object into focus. It slows the thinking down and starts to add detail to the story.  I don’t know how it does it. But at least in my observation, it does.

If you are having trouble writing then start drawing. Even seasoned writers will sketch or in the least create a mind map.  There is just something to it.

Word of Warning

Set a timer and tell your students they will work for this “x” amount of time.  Some students would spend hours and hours on their picture. Others are going to be done in 30 seconds (literally, I’ve timed it.) This process takes time. Have them draw past their comfort.  That’s when the brain is going to come alive.

Daydreaming strongly encouraged here.  

Step 4 -Time to Write-

When writing a rough draft just do a brain dump.  It does have to be pretty. And, I never, ever, ever, encourage anyone to edit as they go on the first draft.  Our brain is using two different parts when creating and editing. If you want to get creative …. don’t edit in this step.

Step 5- Optional Step

Many times when students do creative writing and practice creative and problem-solving skills it is OK to just be done.  But… If your students are loving this and you feel the need, then move to step 5 which is edit/publish.

Freebie Grab

Make sure to grab your freebie.  It’s easy to prep and it’s a great Shamrock themed project.  If you are looking for another writing project head over to this blog post and use “The Blueberry Pancake Problem” for another fun writing project.  

If you want “The Blueberry Pancake Problem” pdf book for your classroom for free just click that annoying little pop-up

Until Next Time

You are amazing.  I know sometimes, especially in the fall, the honeymoon is over with some of your students and things start getting tough.  Hang, in there, and don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you want to talk to me…. I’m here. No judging. I’ve made every mistake you can think of.  I’ve been a horrible teacher friend, and I’ve been a really mean, horrible teacher, but, I have learned from my transgressions and although I don’t have all the answers I’m a really good listener.

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Angie K

Angie K

I love to help teachers create an amazing teacher life.
I've taught for 25+ years and I want to help you find joy and energy in each day.

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