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A creative curriculum is one that incorporates big ideas, varied and engaging activities, and a sense of continuity as a way to stimulate students, teachers, and even families. This lesson will teach you what a creative curriculum is and how to get creative with your own curriculum!

Making a Curriculum Creative

Curriculum is the knowledge, skill, and concepts that children learn, implicitly as well as explicitly, as a result of direct instruction.

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Creativity is the use of innovation, enthusiasm, and individuality. So what do creativity and curriculum have to do with one another? Simply put, a creative curriculum is one in which students learn through creative and active teaching strategies. Creative curriculum gets beyond rote learning and focuses on big ideas, interesting projects, and individual students’ passions and needs. Often when we think of creativity, we think about tangible art, such as literature and music. These things can be an important part of a creative curriculum, but just about every element of a curriculum can be approached creatively, from science to math to history.A creative curriculum is all about focusing on big concepts or ideas.

For example, let’s say you’re working on a science curriculum about plants and how they grow. It’s important for students to learn the stages of photosynthesis. Depending on their age range, you may want students to memorize things such as what a plant needs to survive, or even different types of plants, or plant reproduction. But a creative curriculum isn’t really about memorizing facts. Instead, a creative curriculum is one that is oriented toward what is conceptually important. Take a few minutes to jot down what concepts about plants you think might be important to the age group you work with.

Some examples of big ideas might be things like:

  • Plants have things they need in order to survive.
  • Different plants grow in different places, and this happens for a reason.
  • There are different categories of plants.

Once you have pinpointed three to five big, abstract ideas that outline your curriculum, you will be better prepared to get creative with specific activities.

Engaging Activities

A creative curriculum should include engaging activities that captivate students’ attention and work to formulate an understanding of the big ideas. Of course, you could stand up in front of your students and lecture them about the attributes of plants. Or, you could get creative. Take them on a neighborhood walk and ask them to sketch and observe the plants they see. Borrow botanical guides from your school and local library.

Build time into your lessons to go online and do virtual learning modules pertaining to plants. In general, the more varied activities you can incorporate into a unit of study, the more creative your curriculum will be. Varied activities will also appeal to and engage different types of learners.

If you have trouble coming up with ideas for activities, here are some starting points:

  • Get outside of your classroom or school building.
  • Incorporate art, music, and/or movement.
  • Incorporate dramatic role plays and other performances.
  • Invite guest experts, family members, or other outside speakers.
  • Incorporate technology in appropriate doses.

These guidelines can be great starting points for developing activities, whatever the topic you’re exploring might be.

Creating Continuity

Remember that great curricula are tied together across units to create continuity, or connection to other units within the curriculum. In other words, when students finish studying plants, that doesn’t mean plants should never come up in lessons again. Maybe a plant in your classroom is dying. Even though you have moved on to a study of weather systems, give your students an opportunity to access what they learned in your plant unit to help the dying plant.

Ask students periodically if they are noticing anything about plants in the world around them.No matter what the topic of a curriculum, continuity makes it more creative and memorable. By showing students that the information and concepts they learn in school apply to different aspects of their lives, you are showing them the real importance of knowledge and passion. This will enable them to live full lives as creative and thoughtful individuals.It might sometimes feel that your options for creativity are limited.

You might be required to follow a set of standards or a textbook that leaves little room for creative expression. Don’t worry, students’ natural creativity is not easily suppressed. If you make just a little time each day for student’s questions, ideas, and voices to be heard, you will find that they can bring creativity and joy to even the driest lesson plan.

Lesson Summary

A creative curriculum is one in which students learn through creative and active teaching strategies. Students taught a creative curriculum are more likely to be engaged and excited about learning. Creative curricula often include elements of traditionally creative fields, like art and music, but any subject can be taught using a creative curriculum. There are lots of different ways to teach creatively. A good starting point for developing a creative curriculum is to focus on the big ideas for the curriculum and the subject matter. Next, develop engaging activities designed to challenge the students’ creativity, while learning the curriculum.

Be sure to strive for continuity when planning one unit of the curriculum to the next, which ensures greater retention and creates meaningful connections between ideas.

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