Nowadays, creativity is one of the skills which makes us stand apart from others and have better chances for a good life. We need to be creative both at work and in the family to tackle everyday issues.  Unfortunately, traditional classrooms don’t always value creativity, and sometimes even hold it back. Our role as teachers is to nurture creativity at every opportunity. Here, I will come up with a number of tried and tested activities in ESL classes which boost students’ creative skills.

Make Predictions

This simple technique nurtures creativity and critical thinking. You can ask your students to guess what comes next in reading assignments (fiction, essays, informational articles) as well as video segments you play in class (movies, television shows, recorded dialogues). They usually come up with very interesting scenarios. 

Take Two Sides

Take a controversial statement and challenge your students to list some reasons in support of the statement as well as some reasons against it. This will help them to think beyond their own opinions. 

Creative explanations

Vocabulary words can be taught in many creative ways. For example, verbs such as walk, tiptoe, and skate can be practiced with the help of the following instructions:

  • Show me what it’s like to walk in deep snow. Show me how you might walk on hot sand.
  • Imagine that you’re tiptoeing past a sleeping polar bear.
  • We’re on a frozen lake in Antarctica. Let’s skate with the penguins!

This type of activity will work great especially with kids since they «need» TPR approach to be more involved and enthusiastic. 

Big Questions

The teacher  boards  so called big question, for example, How do people have fun?

Students explore the many ways that people have fun around the world. During the discussion, they may come to the subject of celebrations. They may discuss the following questions on celebrations:

  • What is a celebration?
  • What do people celebrate in your area? How do they celebrate?
  • What is needed to make a celebration successful?

As a further step, the teacher gets students working together to plan a celebration. They must determine:

  • What are we celebrating?
  • What is our celebration called?
  • Who is invited?
  • How will we celebrate?
  • What will we need to prepare?

As students plan, they also create. Students might create a poster, gather materials for their celebration and finally share what they have planned with the rest of the class.

Creative Writing

For this activity, I usually divide the students  into two groups and board the beginning of the story: “It was a dark and stormy night.” Then, students in both groups had three minutes to write a story and then hand it to their partners to continue writing about the same subject and complete the story. The group who had the best story with the best grammar and content would get points.

This writing activity triggers not only creativity but also teamwork. There may be times when students can’t come up with any writing ideas. In such cases, the teacher may prepare some prompts for students. For example some words, like «rain, car accident, lovers, alone at home, milk, neighbors». The choice of words can be quite wide. The teacher can also prepare a number of visual cues by choosing random pictures from online resources. The photos will also somehow guide those students who seem to have difficulties with creative writing tasks.

Students Creating Their Activities

From time to time the teacher may assign the group to create some revision or engaging activity for their peers on the topic of the lesson. They usually come up with guessing games, broken telephone, crossword puzzles, etc. When students create their own games, they get more involved and enjoy the learning.  

Find a Connection

Finding connections between objects, concepts can create a range of great creative activities.

The teacher brings a bag of random items to your class or draws up two lists of unrelated items on the board. In pairs or small groups, students select two or more items and explore different ways they can be connected. The results can be absurd, but the process is invaluable. From a language point of view, the functional language of similarity and contrast can be used (like/unlike, similarly, on the contrary, etc)

Brainwriting

Brainwriting is an alternative to brainstorming where the learners first write and then discuss. It gives even the silent students take time to express their creativity.

How to brainwrite:

  1. Get your students to write down a few rough ideas for solving a particular problem.
  2. Each piece of paper is then passed to the next learner, who reads it silently and adds their own ideas to the page then they pass the page on.
  3. Repeat until everyone or a least a few have had a chance to add. The notes can then be gathered, ready for discussion.

A creative classroom is a joyful and motivating place where learners  feel empowered to learn, where all ideas are welcomed, and where learning is deep and meaningful Creativity is a lifelong skill that our students will take with them into their adult lives to solve problems and help build a better world.

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