Purpose: What kind of thinking
does this routine encourage?
An important part of creativity is recognizing how creative things
around us are. This is often inspiring. Because we are to used to
things, we do not appreciate their creativity. It is also often
practical: we see better the limitations of things and how they
might be improved. It's also a good way of understanding things
better, by looking into what they are for, how they work, and who
their audiences are. Thus, this creativity routine has an "understanding
Application: When and Where can
it be used?
This routine makes thinking visible by helping students to find
the creative thinking behind ordinary things -- doorknobs, pencils,
newspapers, toys. It can also be applied to more important things
and more abstract things, like forms of government or hospitals
or schools. The routine helps students to appreciate creativity
and be more alert to creative opportunities.
The creativity hunt is a good way to awaken students
to the creativity in ordinary objects around them. You can use it
on everyday classroom objects, like a blackboard, a ballpoint pen,
a paintbrush, an article of clothing.You don't have to stick to
concrete physical objects. You can use it on more abstract things,
like the 24- hour day, or recess, or a sport or game. Besides the
things around us, you can easily use it to connect to the subject
areas. Here are some tips about picking a good object:
Pick something that comes from human beings
and human creativity, like a telescope or a form of government or a means of communication.
Pick something relevant to the subject matter
you are teaching. For instance, a cannon or a musket or a military
formation would be a good choice if you are teaching military
history. A particular tax or policy might be a good choice if
you are teaching about government. A sextant or telescope might
be a good choice if you are teaching about science.
You can pick concrete things like a sextant
or telescope but also abstract things like a particular tax or
Pick something that the students know enough
about so that they can think some about what it's for and how
it works and who its audience is. For instance, you would not
pick a telescope if students didn't know much about telescopes,
but you might if you could bring one in and students could try
it out and examine it. You would not pick an import duty if students
had just heard the name but did not know how it worked, but if
the y had read and discussed it in general you might.
Launch: What are some tips for starting
and using this routine?
Here are some basic steps for starting the routine:
- Identify something for students to think
about -- something ordinary like a ballpoint pen or larger and more abstract like a hospital. It is natural to pick
something from a subject matter being taught.
- Set up the target diagram and label the key
elements: main purpose, parts & purposes, audience. Say something
like this: "Let's look at this from a creative viewpoint.
Creative things have jobs to do. They need to hit their target.
So here is the target. Let's explore how this thing hits its target."
Lead students in filling out the target diagram.
Let them suggest main purposes (sometimes there is more than one),
particular parts and the purposes they serve, and who the audience
is. Also, invite them to star (*) any part they think is particularly
smart or creative. You can conduct this as a general conversation,
but another good way is to ask students to fill out post-its individually
or in small groups and stick them up on the diagram.
Sum up by looking for what's creative. Go
over the *’s and invite more. Emphasize how this clever
object or idea hits its target.