Cue Up Your Creativity: 30-Day Challenge
Creativity relieves our stress and invigorates our imagination. It’s a route to clarity or an outlet for frustrations. It brings peace and unlimited excitement. So why not dedicate your focus to getting those creative juices pumping through your veins?
Check out our 30 days worth of inspiring activities creative teachers need to power through any creative block.
1. Declare your mantra: Buddha said, “We are what we think.” Creating a personal mantra can help you become what you wish for. It is a motivating and inspiring statement that can add encouragement and solace to any moment. It can reorient your frame of mind and refocus you to what is important. The only requirement of your mantra is that it is authentic to you.
Spend some time with your journal — preferably in the morning — and write freely and unabashedly about what it is you want.
Take a look at your writing and narrow to one idea, goal, concept, or emotion.
Turn your focus into a declarative statement reinforcing what it is you desire. For example: “I am open and ready to receive great love.” or “I am creative, imaginative, and ready to take on the world.”
2. Do some work from a different angle. Today, take some time to do your paperwork, reading, or grading somewhere different than your desk. Use a clipboard, textbook or other hard surface and sit on the floor, the windowsill, a comfy chair in the library… and do your work. It’s probably not feasible to do this all day, but use a free period, or delineate a certain number of minutes or tasks to complete. This can even be incorporated in today’s lesson. Push the desks out of the way and make use of the space. Your students can follow your lead — they will love it!
3. I wish my students knew… statement. One day, Kyle Schwartz asked her students to complete this sentence: “I wish my teacher knew____.” She was amazed at the results. This is a fantastic activity to connect with your students and you may be surprised by the answers you receive. But what about things you wish your students knew about you? Oftentimes, kids forget that their teachers are people too. There’s nothing wrong with reminding them. Let them know some of the things you love, but also share some of those things you hate.
Share that you’re afraid of spiders. That you have sleepless nights sometimes. That there are days you would rather sleep in. That you too turn your pillow case inside out the night before a snowstorm to superstition your way to a snow day. Remind them that you are a person. And remind yourself too.
4. Write a six-word story. Legend has it that Ernest Hemingway won a bet with his author friends for writing a six-word novel: “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.” True or not, this writing challenge emphasizes the power even a few words can wield. Challenge yourself to writing your own six-word story. Craft your story in as few words as possible. Then share it, or keep it to yourself. It may take you hours or mere minutes, but it’s worth the challenge.
5. Reorganize your desk. Life gets in the way, and often you find it in a pile on your desk. Make a point to actually see the top of your desk, clutter-free. Organize your papers. Put your pens and pencils away. Place your pictures in the right places. Find that cute tchotchke that always makes you smile and put it in view.
Organize the items that so often clutter your workspace and you will find yourself more relaxed and more ready to tackle your workload.
6. Create a mindmap. Begin with a central topic like, “My goals in life.” Add your ideas, questions, and related points as you think of them. Perhaps you add, “Finding love, having a dog, buying a better home.” Continue writing and, as the map develops, so will your mind. Don’t be afraid of the unpredictable or silly ideas. There are no right or wrong answers. You may be surprised at the ideas that flow onto the paper. Your mind map is finished when the page is full, or when you have nothing left to say.
7. Negative brainstorm. Often it’s easier for the human brain to know why something won’t work than to know why something will work. By reversing the solutions, you actually give your mind permission to be negative. And once the negativity is out on the paper, you can more clearly turn those negative responses into positive solutions. Identifying what won’t work will help you see what will.
- Write down a problem you are currently facing. You can use your mindmap from yesterday to help.
- Instead of trying to brainstorm the positives, take a shot at identifying the ways it could worsen or the ways that the problem can’t be solved. For instance, instead of saying, “How can I get more kids to do their homework?” ask, “How can I reduce the amount of homework that I am getting from my students?”
- Let the ideas flow freely. Don’t reject anything just yet.
- When you have a solid list, take a look at what doesn’t work, and how you can turn those ideas around. For instance, maybe one of your negative thoughts on homework was, “Make the homework really difficult to understand.” How can you turn that around? Maybe you could phrase it as, “Ensure that all directions are easy to understand.”
Giving your mind the freedom to think negatively can help to foster better positive ideas and set you on a better path to solving the problems you face.
8. Go for a walk. Busy work and home lives often make even taking a simple walk difficult. Today, make a point to venture outside and walk around your neighborhood. Take note of the season. Breathe in the air. Let your mind wander. When you return home, journal for a bit about how you feel. Or bullet journal about what you wish to do next or the ideas that have sprung to mind as your feet traveled along. Take the time to boost your creativity and free your thoughts.
9. Do a Zentangle. The masterful art of doodling should not be ignored. Begin by drawing a curvy line down or across your page. Then draw a pattern along the line. Draw another pattern shape connected to that. Continue building up your patterns giving yourself the freedom to connect lines and draw seemingly random shapes. Keep going — you’ll know when you’re finished.
10. Be a kid again. Remember blanket forts? Painting with your fingers and sculpting scary monsters with Play-Doh? Put yourself back in those tiny trainers and be free to let your imagination run wild. Choose a medium: Legos, origami, paint, or crayons, and be a kid again. Join your kids for a game of hide-and-seek. Build your perfect home in Legos. Draw a family portrait. Be young, be fun, and let youthful creativity take control.
11. Take a “Hello” selfie. Celebrating creativity also means celebrating yourself. Take a selfie. In the edit option, add the word, “Hello!” Post your celebratory selfie on social media. Use it on your SmartBoard to welcome your students as they enter your room. Add it to your emails for the day. Everyone loves a great greeting.
12. Do the opposite. Because doing things out of habit can often hinder creative thought, go against your typical routine. Experience some new insight into how you do things. Do the opposite of something you normally do. Wake up earlier, or wake up later. Take a different route to work. Have dinner for breakfast and breakfast for dinner. Say goodbye instead of hello. Bring your students in on the adventure. Just have fun and let yourself say no when you mean yes!
13. Make a paper tablecloth and cover it with ideas. If you have a large sheet of paper, cover your table with it. If not, use construction paper like placemats. Place colored pencils, markers, crayons, pens, pencils — any kind of writing tool — on the table and let your imagination take over. Bring the whole family into the moment. Doodle while dinner is cooking. While you’re eating. After the food is finished. Start a conversation about what each drawing is and means. Stay at the table longer with your loved ones or by yourself. Enjoy the moment and let creativity join you for dinner.
14. Find a new word for the day. Flip through the dictionary, or pull up thesaurus.com. Find a new word and insert it into your conversations. Create a small poster or use Post-it notes to display your new word in your classroom. Craft sentences using the word. Create a whole new story based on it. Take the time to explore language a little bit today.
15. Write a teaching love letter. You entered education for so many reasons. Remind yourself of what they are. Personify your profession and then proclaim your love for it in writing. Use an elegant piece of paper, an exquisite pen and pour your heart out. Seal it up in an envelope and tuck it away in your desk. You’ll come across it again. And all those passionate confessions will reignite your love of education when you need it most.
16. Evaluate your zodiac sign. Take a look at your zodiac sign. Click on your zodiac profile. Check out your horoscope for the day. Cut it out of the paper or print it. At the end of the day, take another look at your sign and your horoscope. How did the stars do? Journal, list, or just ponder how you relate to the ideas listed. Do you feel as though you fit the profile? Were they on target? Was it total malarkey? Take a moment to compare and see yourself as the stars do.
17. Have lunch or coffee with someone fun. Work has become so hectic, that sometimes your lunchtime just becomes another chance to catch up on work. Being around great people can relieve stress and help spur creative flow. Take the time today to share some moments with one of them. If lunch just can’t happen, make time for a coffee or a drink. Share some time with the people who will help your creative spirit — you can always gripe about those who don’t later.
18. Take 3 pics. Capturing and reflecting on images can feed your mind and your spirit. Take a picture first thing in the morning — anything that catches your eye. Take a second mid-afternoon. And a third in the evening. Take a look at all three photos. What is the relationship between each of them? Did you circle around a single idea or theme? Where they as random as you thought they might be? Even if the setting doesn’t change much, it’s important to take note of the differences in your day.
19. Do something from Pinterest. Go back to your boards. Pick a pin and do it. Cook something. Knit something. Draw, paint, list. Rediscover something inspirational and bring it to life today.
20. Try not to use “e.” This is a totally hard task. The letter “e” appears everywhere (eight times in that last sentence alone). Trying to eliminate the letter isn’t about winning a game, but challenging yourself to find alternate routes. If you can’t use the letter, you are forced to find different ways to communicate. Take on the challenge and see what new ways you can find to speak your mind.
21. Start a Someday list. We all have “somedays.” Someday I will go to Europe. Someday I will write a novel. Someday I will find the perfect home. Whatever your somedays are, write them down. Make a list, then add inspirational photos, quotes, drawings, or just more ideas. Make your somedays something to celebrate, not just wish for.
22. Create a story only using emoticons. Emojis can make the text. Add emotion to the post. Or just be downright fun. They are a picture language that grows every day. Use them to make a story. Write your own or rewrite an old one. Share with your friends. Share it on social media. See if they can read what you’ve crafted. Check out this example:
23. Turn off your screens. Screens can really stump your imagination, limit your creativity, and drown out any quiet. Some screens are important for work, but do you really need your phone right beside you all evening? How about watching videos or scrolling through social media? Take the time to turn off the screens: tv, phone, and computer. Allow your brain to think on its own again and enjoy the silence.
24. Color like an adult. Adult coloring books are all over. But if you don’t have one, finding an inspiring page to color is as simple as a quick search then hitting the print button. There’s even an app for that. Take your favorite color tools and enjoy the peace that comes with coloring inside the lines.
25. Things you’d say to… There is someone out there who never heard what you have to say. Whether they’re an old flame, old friend, or a loved one no longer with us, you have words to share with them. So share them. Write a letter — by hand or on the computer — and pour out the words you’ve kept inside. Release the thoughts and emotions. Be free to say what you’ve always wanted to say.
26. Read something wonderful. What’s on your bedside table you haven’t even cracked yet? Is there a magazine full of gossip you haven’t had time to flip through? What about an amazing blog post — ahem — that you haven’t visited in awhile? Take the time to dive in and read something wonderful just for fun!
27. Do nothing. Our brains tend to be more innovative when they are at rest. It’s not about putting things off, but relaxing and taking a mental break to recharge and invigorate your ingenuity. Have a notebook or journal near you for those moments of inspiring thought, but push yourself to do nothing. Just breathe in and breathe out.
28. Do a puzzle. Jigsaw, crossword, Sudoku, word search: Find a puzzle that you enjoy, grab your favorite mug full of warmth, and sit back to exercise your mind. Puzzles have a way of challenging your thought processes, lower stress levels, and even make you smarter. So grab your pencil and dive in.
29. Create something by hand. Craft a new wreath for the holiday. Make a card. Draw a picture. Take the time to use your hands and add heart to what you’re making. Get your hands in there. Get them messy. Use too much glitter. Peel off the dried glue. Find a way to make something by hand for yourself or as a present to someone. The extra effort makes it extra special.
30. Design 30 circles. Create your own or print out a set of 30 circles. The goal is to turn each circle into a recognizable object. Set a timer for added fun. Let your imagination run wild. Those aren’t just circles, they’re ladybugs, and clocks, and app icons, and so much more!
30 days of creativity is a great way to boost your innovative spirit and help you destress. Don’t stop now. Continue to find a few moments for yourself each day to feed that creative need!