In the mid ‘90s, I was a graduate teaching assistant in a kindergarten classroom in a child development laboratory school at a large university. Some of my most creative, effective, and happiest teaching was during my time in that kindergarten. On Fridays the head teacher, other graduate assistant, an undergraduate student teacher, and I would meet and discuss the students’ needs and make plans for the next week. This classroom was child-centered which meant that much of the curriculum was focused around the children’s own interests. For instance, the head teacher noticed that many of the boys were building castles with blocks during the morning unstructured play time, thus we planned a unit around their passion for castles. Once a week I would be in charge of leading the entire “large group” of 20 kindergarteners in an activity or learning exercise and on a different day I would lead half the children, the “small group,” in another activity. The topic for these groups came from our Friday staff meetings.
If you’re like me some of your best creative ideas are sparked while doing routine, common, and often mundane tasks that don’t involve much brain power like taking a shower, making your bed, folding laundry, or repetitive exercising like walking. These are the places where I’d acquire ideas for what to do with the kindergarten students during large and small group time. All I needed was the topic, even one word, and the process took over from there.
After the routine task I’d either write down my ideas so I wouldn’t forget them or I’d immediately spend about an hour gathering materials to teach the students. Much of the entire process was intuitive. I didn’t look through books or magazines, wade through a Google search, or surf Pinterest for ideas. How time-consuming that would have been if those were available options then! (I am definitely one to go traveling down a rabbit hole and become unfocused while on the internet.)
Here’s what I learned:
- All I really need is one simple thing to spark my creativity. It can be anything if I am open to it.
- Once I have the initial idea or topic, it is better to rely on my own ideas and intuition to flesh out the idea rather than someone else’s I might find on the internet. In other words, I trust myself.
- This process is quicker and easier for me to infuse my own individuality into the “product” rather than copying or adapting something I might find online.
I’m not saying I never use the internet. In fact, I find it useful for obtaining the initial idea if necessary or teaching myself how to do something technical regarding my activity, e.g., how to fold a piece of paper into a box.
And how did I flesh out my ideas for this blog post once I had the prompt “creative spark”? The shower, of course.
play therapist, blogger, creative, mom