The following warm-ups are designed to set the stage for divergent thinking and hone students’ observation skills.
- Divide students into groups of three to four. Give each group a set of fruit. Have them write down as many details about the fruits as they can, paying attention to multiple senses in addition to vision. Have each group share at least three observations with the entire class. Then look at a work of art using these fine tuned observation skills.
- Before preparing their final work, have students warm up their brains and transition them from taking in data to questioning and making sense of it. You can give them the following brain teasers as a quick warm-up to get them thinking:
- How many four cent stamps in a dozen? (Many will say three because they’re used to doing the math but the answer is 12)
- Quickly ask students to spell mop, hop, pop, glop, prop, and then immediately ask them what they do at a green light. (Most of the time they will say “stop” but the answer is “go.”)
- Ask students if they’ve ever played Monopoly. If a majority of the students have played, say the following: Imagine the Monopoly board. Got it? Okay, where would you be on the board if you rolled a two (pause), a twelve (pause), and a two? (Many will try to visualize because you’ve set them up to do so – the actual answer has to do with the numbers. They would be in “Jail” because they rolled three doubles in a row.)
- To help students realize that there is more than one way to look at things, and to challenge their assumptions and how they look at the world, engage them in the following activity:
- Have students sit in a circle on the floor – they should all be able to see you and the pencils you will be placing on the floor.
- Sitting cross-legged, place the pencils in a random pattern on the floor. Take great care to make it seem like how you are placing the pencils is really important (the more showmanship you use here the better!).
- VERY nonchalantly place you fingers close to your legs with a certain number of fingers sticking out. Look at the pencils and around at the students the entire time. Do NOT look at your fingers.
- Ask students what number you made (they will be focusing on the pencils not your hands!).
- Make another number, dramatically laying out the pencils. Do so two more times before giving a “hint.”
- This time, tap your fingers while they are trying to decide what number you made. Some students will be picking up on the fingers by now. Encourage them to keep quiet if they figured out how to tell what number you made. Allow students to “make” numbers. They love it!
- Share the secret with all students. Tell them that often people make assumptions without carefully exploring everything around them when trying to learn about something.
- To get students thinking creatively, have them circle-up. Tell them that they are going to tell a story as a class (you can set parameters in regards to content to keep things psychologically safe). Say that it’s okay to be silly and creative. You will start the story and the person to your right will say, “Yes, and…” and add a small section. The person to his or her right will say, “Yes, and…” and add another section. This process will continue until the story has gone around the entire circle. You may follow-up this first story by each person only saying one word to “create” the story, eliminating the “Yes, and…” in between.
- Ask students to write down as many details about their bedroom that they can. When they think they are finished, ask them if there was anything the color blue in their room they forgot to include? Anything black? What about things in their room that they can use to make noise? Soft or hard things?
- Without talking, whispering, or making any sound have students line up according to the month and day of their birth. Start with January at one end of the line and finish with December. Debrief the activity. Ask if the task would have been easier if they could have used words. Why? What challenges did not being able to use words present?
- Ask students the following question: When a man is sitting backwards on a horse, why is it that we say the man is backwards, not the horse? Have them discuss their ideas with a partner. Then ask them to support each of the following metaphors: Life is like a doughnut. Life is like a kitten. Life is like a refrigerator. The goal is to get them to challenge assumptions and warm-up their metaphorical thinking.
Fun Ways to Get into a Circle
Circling up is a useful way to organize and focus learners. A fun way to help them create a circle is to make “chicken,” “airplane,” and “Velcro” circles.
- For “chicken” circles, students make chicken wings with their arms and cluck like chickens. After a little bit you have them touch their elbows to make the circle.
- For the airplane circle, have them extend their arms out like airplane wings, fly around a little bit, and then touch fingertips to each other in circle formation.
- Lastly, they can make a “Velcro” circle, where they come in very close together and touch shoulder-to-shoulder/arm-to-arm. From this shape you can step back to “chicken” circle or “airplane” circle. They just love to giggle as they jiggle closer to touch.
Be energetic and silly as you call out the names of the different circles before selecting the final one you need to either stand or sit for your activity.
Much of the work students will do in the business world involves teamwork and group processing. Helping them learn how to work effectively with a group also helps them tap into the notion that “two heads are better than one,” especially when trying to work creatively. The following roles might help group effectiveness:
- Leader: keeps the group on task
- Time keeper: watches the clock to ensure the group is on schedule
- Recorder: writes down all of the ideas and information generated by the group
- Observer: watches and helps the group understand how it’s functioning and where it can improve.
This website offers more detailed information on the group process.
WIBYT (Write It Before You Talk)
To ensure that students think about an activity before influencing each other’s ideas, use creative activities to have them write about the activity before you share as a group. Some ideas:
- A Letter Home: Students write about what they learned as if writing home. One side of the “postcard” is a picture of their thoughts and the other is text.
- What next?: Students write about what would be useful next steps to help them get to know each other better and begin working together as a team of caring individuals.
Click here for more ideas.