Creativity. One might think it's automatically a part of all art rooms. I don't agree. To me, creativity is tied closely with choice and critical thinking. In following many art ed blogs and Instagram feeds, I see plenty of lessons in which every child's art LOOKS THE SAME. To me, that doesn't teach creativity. I'm not entirely sure it teaches art. I apologize if this is reflective of your style of teaching. It's just not mine.
Over the summer, I attended the "Teaching for Creativity Institute" at the Columbus Museum of Art. As an educator, I've been studying creativity along with my elementary art colleagues in my district. I learned quite a bit at the institute, but I learned just as much simply being in the museum. CMA has done some major renovations and additions recently. One of the renovated areas was the kid's area of the museum. It was absolutely filled with items for creative play. This was something I wanted to include in my classroom this year.
I spent quite a bit of time researching different creative play toys. I wound up purchasing about eight different kinds of materials specifically for creative play. I started the year with only some plain wooden blocks. They were on my list to purchase, but another teacher wanted to get rid of them! Score! I explained to my classes that the blocks would be available to use for early finishers. I assumed they would go over with the younger kids, but I wondered if the older kids would be too cool for wooden blocks. Quite the opposite happened. Every single student wants to play with the blocks. The variety of creative uses for the blocks is astounding.
Open ended creative play is largely missing in schools today. Kids no longer get to just be kids. Creative play gives students the ability to make their own choices in what they make. They are only limited by their imagination. Since I introduced these creative play options, very few students choose to do free drawing if they finish early. I love seeing the enthusiasm for creativity.
What do you do to allow creative play in your classroom? I'd love to know!