Using Fluency to Stimulate Creativity

There are a number of elements of creativity that teachers and parents can use to stimulate their students (and themselves). Fluency—the ability to come up with many ideas—is one of those elements. It is difficult to find innovative ideas if one can’t generate many from which to choose.

You can have a lot of fun with these activities. The exercises fill odd moments (waiting in line, driving in the car) with stimulation and can also help generate ideas for projects.

Brainstorming techniques are used when working on fluency. When brainstorming,
  • No criticism is allowed. Defer any judgment until a large number of alternatives have been produced. (If you judge too quickly, you risk shutting people down.)
  • Freewheeling is desired. The wilder the ideas, the better. (From those crazy ideas might come some very sensible ones.)
  • Quantity is desired. Include the small and obvious, as well as the wild, unusual, clever ones. (The more ideas one can generate, the greater the chances that one of those ideas will be a good one.)
  • Combine alternatives and hitchhike upon alternatives to produce even more ideas. (Often young children will complain: “He stole my idea.” But, it’s a compliment to take another person's idea and change it slightly or expand upon it.)

For fun activities try some of the following:
  • List all of the words you can think of that begin with a certain letter, certain two letters, certain three letters, etc.
  • List all of the synonyms/antonyms you can thing of for a specific word.
  • Name all the objects you can think of that are white and edible, or mean and soft.
  • Name uses for a bale of hay or a needle or a broom.
  • What are all of the uses (conventional or nonconventional) you can think of for a fork?
  • Think of all of the possible presents you could give to a person if you had no money.

Some ideas for using brainstorming for academic subjects include:
  • How many aspects are similar/different between two books?
  • How many ways did WWII affect the culture of the U.S.?
  • List as many equations as you can where the answer is 6. (3 + 3, 2 x 3, 26 – 20, etc.)
  • Name as many kinds of penguins as you can and their natural habitats.
  • List all the possible settings for a scary story.
  • How many different techniques can you think of to make a presentation to the class?

For some great ideas for “take offs” on basic brainstorming, see Toolsfor Creating Ideas.

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