3 Simple Ways to Unlock Creativity in the Classroom

Jacie MaslykBlog, Engage Better, Innovate Better, Lesson Plan Better


  • Struggling to be more creative? See these 3 simple ways you can unlock creativity in yourself and your students.
  • Tips to use these strategies for yourself or with your students.

I’m just not creative!

Have you heard one of your students proclaim this?  Or maybe you have exhaled this in frustration a time or two yourself.

Certainly, there are situations where we don’t feel that we are at our best. Ones where we struggle to find any creative idea in our heads.  Our students encounter this every day in the classroom.

There are some simple ways that we can nurture creative mindsets in our students and increase creative thinking in every classroom.

Build Creative Habits

We can build skills when we practice them.  We get better at athletic skills when we practice.  Our communication skills improve when we practice. Creativity is no different. If you want to be more creative, then take time to do things that will build your creativity every day. 

If you want to be more creative, then take time to do things that will build your creativity every day. Click To Tweet

These don’t have to be large-scale creative masterpieces. There are small things that you can commit to doing every day that, with practice, will become ongoing creative habits.

Some ideas to build creative habits are:

  • Draw your to-do list.
  • Make a paper airplane.
  • Do a jigsaw puzzle. 
  • Plant a flower.
  • Write a poem.
  • Handwrite a note or a postcard to a friend.
  • Try a physical activity from childhood (hopscotch, jump rope, jacks, hula hoops).
  • Take photos of colorful images around you.
  • Mess with some Play-Doh.
  • Sketch your favorite place to visit.
  • Take a nature walk.
  • Create a mind map of your favorite movie, book, or song.

Building these habits into our everyday routines can help us to think more creatively about problems and solutions.  It may also push us to try some of these simple hacks within our classrooms.  When we model creativity for our students, we show them that their imagination is valued!

Take a Time Out

In order to get our creative juices flowing, sometimes we just need a brain break.  Not just us, but our students too.

Let’s be intentional about creating time and space to allow learners to stop, take a breath, and reflect before returning to the task at hand.  I know that we don’t have enough time to get done with all that we are required to do over the course of a day, a week, or a semester. So this strategy might seem counter-productive.  But think about how you feel rejuvenated after taking a snack break or taking a quick walk.

We can embed these opportunities within the day so our students can come back to their work refreshed and ready to go.

How might this look within the school day?

  • Take a 10 am time out.  This is a great time for a mid-morning snack break or simply a short time away from the lesson. Even if it is just for a minute or two, a timeout can help you and your students to refocus and return to your work in a more productive and creative manner.
  • Get outside.  Soaking in the sunshine or getting a breath of fresh air can help to activate creative thinking.  If you can squeeze in a quick walk outside, students will benefit and so will you.  You might even get inspired by something you experienced while outdoors.
  • Be calm.  Taking time for quiet reflection through breathing techniques, stretching, or simply quiet time can increase productivity and creativity.  Use a 0ne minute timer and encourage your class to find the calm.  This break can re-center student thinking as they hit the refresh button and return to work.
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Enlist Your Creative Crew

For some educators, getting in the creative zone is an individualized task. Some people enjoy writing, sketching, or brainstorming alone. Others appreciate the creative inspiration they find in others. 

Whether you prefer creative collaboration or working solo, it is important to surround yourself with other educators and professionals who will ignite your imagination so you can give your creative best in the classroom. 

This might mean curating a list of blogs or podcasts that offer some inspiration.  Check out this Teach Better podcast featuring Barbara Hanna as she discusses learning and creativity in education.  Find out how poetry can lift up student voice and activate creativity in your students in Ryan McHale’s blog post.

Finding your creative crew can happen through social media.  Seek out some artistic individuals who can enhance your professional learning network (PLN).  Follow artists, authors, athletes, techies, and musicians who can help you (and your students) to learn and grow.

Here are a few to follow on Twitter to get you started:

Unlock Creativity

How will you unlock the creative genius within your students?  It starts with you! 

Carve out time to build creative habits in your classroom.  These might be the springboard to a new hobby or interest for your students. 

Be intentional about embedding breaks within your day so that you can maximize the creative potential of those you serve.   

Build a creative crew who can provide inspiration when you are looking for that creative spark! 

For more ideas, check out my book Unlock Creativity: Opening a World of Imagination With Your Students.  You will find learning hacks to infuse creative options into any K-12 classrooms, as well as a variety of resources including creative challenge tasks.


An educator for the last 22 years, Dr. Jacie Maslyk, has served as a classroom teacher, reading specialist, elementary principal, and assistant superintendent. She is the author of STEAM Makers: Fostering Creativity and Innovation in the Elementary Classroom, Connect to Lead: Power Up Your Learning Network to Move Your School Forward (ISTE), Remake Literacy: Innovative Instructional Strategies for Maker Learning, and Unlock Creativity: Opening a World of Imagination With Your Students.

She is a featured blogger with Demco, Defined STEM, and Education Closet, as well as maintaining her own blog, Creativity in the Making at www.jaciemaslyk.blogspot.com.

Jacie has been named a featured speaker for FETC 2020 and will also keynote the Virginia Children’s Engineering Council annual conference in February 2020. Connect with Jacie on Twitter @DrJacieMaslyk or email her at jaciemaslyk@gmail.com.