• Anita Demitroff

5 Tips for Fostering Creativity in the Art Class

How can we get our learners to feel confident enough to be more innovative in art class? Many of us want to break away from uniform craft projects to allow our learners to develop their own creativity, but we may not know where to start.

Here are five tips.

Picture: Ana Rioboos Learning Space (Narón, Spain).

1. Try temporary art.

Loose Parts offer a chance for the children to experiment, as there is less risk and effort. We make something and then dismantle it to make something else. However, this kind of art is not just about playing with bits.

Experimenting with shadows or UV torches and luminescent paper can be satisfying with all age groups, as shown in this picture by Rebeca Serrano of her sixth of Primary class at Colegio Jesús Maestro, Ferrol.

The art was fleeting, but the stories they wrote in English to accompany it were recorded. From the second year of Primary onwards, children can make tableau: using their bodies to represent, for example, a bicycle or even the water cycle.

The language input comes in with describing each component: “These are the wheels. This is the seat.”

Post-pandemic restrictions mean that each child represents an element from his or her seat or that they only work in a “bubble groups” (same group members all year).

As with the Loose Parts, this kind of temporary composition gets pupils thinking visually while stretching their creativity.

2. Get learners to think backwards: from the material to the idea.

Uniform crafts often use the same recycled material; everyone is asked to bring in an egg box, for example, to make a caterpillar. What if you collect a variety of interesting packages and bits and bobs and then let the children transform it as they please? To help them generate ideas beforehand, you can use a simple structure like, ”I can use this to make a …” The more creative learners will inspire the others to go from a material to the piece of art.

3. Let the learners participate in and learn about the design process.

One teacher at the Lestonnac school in Cangas (Galicia, Spain) told his pupils to think about what kind of recycled material they would need to make a flower cart for Mother's Day. Each cart was composed of something different.

Then children had to personalise the contents of their carts according to the profession or interests of their mother.

As learners start to assemble a design, they have to solve problems and test their resiliency until they come up with an option that works. In Lestonnac Ferrol, our fourth of Primary pupils had to think about how to attach body parts to their coffee bag aliens.

We found a menu of attachment options from Michigan Destination Imagination; these didn't involve using a glue gun.

It forced us to ask how each attachment option was done, a communicative task.

Thinking about the stages of the design process boosts competences as well as creativity.

4. Menus are a form of scaffolding.

The menu for attaching pieces inspired my colleagues and me to provide the pupils with options for forming letters, making pop-ups on posters, producing illustrations and other tasks.

Over the year, provide time for children to experiment with techniques before having to choose which one they want to use for a specific project. In this way, we provide the learners with tools to experiment with and hone.

5. Sometimes we have to be slow and careful; other times, fast on our feet.

To break inhibitions in drawing and loosen up the child who spends too long rubbing out and starting over, have the class stand up and draw something in the air in front of them. Then get them to make the drawing bigger and bigger. Alternatively, have them draw silly items, like a rabbit playing the piano as fast as possible. Increase the challenge: use their other hand or even draw with their eyes closed. In this exercise, speed is of the essence; it is a drawing race.

These are slow processes, involving skills and competences that require systematic development.

We can't move mountains in a single class, or even in the course of a year, but we do have six years to make noticeable progress with our learners.

And the results will surprise both the teacher and the learners themselves.

Creativity is within our grasp, even if it normally diminishes in later years!


By Ana Demitroff

Bio: Ana has been in the classroom longer than she cares to admit, but she still gets a kick from the experience and continues to learn from her colleagues and students at the You First Language Centre