The purpose of Creativity Booster activities is to offer a fun warm up with students at the beginning of each class. It acts as an ice breaker and helps get students’ brains in gear for class and it generally ties into the lesson or has a purpose beyond the obvious.
There are different creativity boosters: some invite students to think visually, see ’16 squares’, some invite students to discover feelings of empathy, see ‘An Ode to the Left Hand’, some invite students to get silly and quiet their inner critics, see ‘Yes! Let’s‘.
Creativity Boosters are useful for setting the tone for a fun and engaging lesson. They can be used as a warm up in either highly visual creative courses (ex: design and/or visual arts-focused classes) or non-visual courses that require creative problem solving (ex: science, business management and social sciences).
For the ‘5 Senses’ Creativity Booster, there is no preparation required other than having the instructions to guide students through the activity (see below).
This ‘5 Senses’ Creativity Booster is a mindfulness practice. There is huge value in engaging in mindfulness exercises to help spark creativity. If nothing else, it gets students out of their normal routines and it removes us all from actively using our devices.
Before this activity begins, invite students to turn their cameras off so they can feel comfortable to participate in the experience fully, without feeling watched by classmates.
In this Creativity Booster, we ask students to slow down and quiet their minds by focusing on their immediate surroundings, inviting them to focus their attention using their five senses. Begin by asking students to take a few deep breaths, staying in the here and now as best as possible. With a calm and steady pace, ask students to do the following:
- Notice 5 things they can see around them, becoming more aware of the environment and trying to find things they don’t normally notice.
- Notice 4 things they can feel, such as the texture of clothing on their skin or any surfaces they are touching.
- Notice 3 things they can hear, including obvious noises or background noises.
- Notice 2 things they can smell, whether pleasant or unpleasant.
- Notice 1 thing they can taste, either by actively taking a sip of a drink or noticing the taste in their mouth.
Following the exercise, the goal is that students feel calmer and more ready to focus on the class ahead.
Adapted from: UVM Medical Center (2018) Mindful Monday: Try the “Five Senses” Mindfulness Exercise, Physical, Wellness Tips and Wellness Articles.
Approximately 5 minutes
ADAPTATIONS AND EXAMPLES
No special technology is required beyond video conferencing software in a live, synchronous class. This activity works best if all students have their cameras turned off.
Talk Paper Scissors podcast, Episode 058: Serious Fun. In this podcast episode, I explain the rationale behind the importance of having ‘Serious Fun’ in post-secondary education, including the incorporation of Creativity Boosters in my virtual classroom.
- Educator prep: None
- Student prep: None
- On-screen annotation, Cameras off option
- Duration: < 5 mins