There is a common belief that today’s schools are moving away from the idea of creativity in the classroom due to new education standards. Yet it is possible for innovative thinking to be part of your students’ daily experience no matter the curriculum. The best way to support creativity is to create a learning environment that encourages curiosity, exploration, and inquiry. But what does it take put together a space that will encourage this type of thought? Read on to find out!
- Keep handy open-ended materials, such as loose parts, that enable students to determine their meaning. Natural materials are ideal for use as loose parts since they are readily available, cost nothing, and provide the calming benefits of nature. Open-ended supplies that don’t have a fixed purpose encourage problem solving, building, and creating. Recycled materials are also a staple in a creative classroom. They encourage resource conservation, give students the opportunity to determine their purpose, and help them envision new ways of using ordinary materials.
- An uncluttered, open space is also essential to supporting creative thought. The idea that less is more definitely applies when arranging your classroom. Minimal stimuli, such as posters and instructional signs, encourage creativity. This lack of stimuli increases attention and focus and lets thoughts flow. A learning space and furniture that allow movement are an important basis of a creative classroom since movement stimulates the brain. Flexible furniture that is easily reconfigured into groupings allowing individual, small group, and large group work is ideal. Letting students explore the space and determine if they prefer to sit, stand, lay down, kneel, etc. will make them feel comfortable and will help them think more freely.
- Setting up specific areas for experimentation and exploration, such as standing tables and a dramatic play area, is a way to encourage children who may need a bit of guidance to use their imaginations.
- Furniture that is open-ended and has more than one purpose brings another level of creativity to your classroom. Asking questions such as, “What else can it be? and “How can this be used?” will encourage children to use their imaginations, as makes them feel ownership over the space. Multipurpose pieces open up conversations among students as they work together to determine how they will accomplish a task.
By providing a classroom that gives students the chance to express their creativity we are telling them that they are valued and that their thoughts matter. An authentic learning environment promotes innovative thinking and will help create confident learners prepared for success in the 21st century.