19 easy classroom ideas to spark creativity [+ free design templates]

19 innovative classroom ideas to promote creativity

Creativity is about more than just paints and pencils. It’s a process and a way of thinking that’s just as important for people who envision a future in STEM as it is for those who love the arts. Learning how to tap into sources of creativity and make use of this essential skill starts at a young age — making the classroom the perfect environment for fostering creativity.

With these 19 easy classroom ideas and ready-to-go design templates, you can encourage your students to explore their creativity throughout the school year. You’ll soon see sparks of inspiration flashing all around the classroom!

Why is creativity in the classroom important?

When a teacher(opens in a new tab or window) makes developing creativity part of the school day, students can have greater long-term success in a variety of areas. They can become more comfortable and skilled with self-expression and creating and executing original ideas. According to research by Gallup, students in classrooms that placed a higher emphasis on both creativity and transformative technology(opens in a new tab or window) were also more successful at:

  • Solving problems.
  • Thinking critically.
  • Retaining information.
  • Exhibiting deeper comprehension.
  • Making connections across subjects.
  • Taking standardized tests.

Engaging creatively with tasks is also highly engaging, stimulating and energizing. Fun learning activities that encourage kids to flex their creative muscles can support more sustained focus and overall satisfaction in the process.

Incorporating music-related activities in the classroom for instance is a great way to spark creativity and excitement in students of all ages, says Cody Arsenault, founder of MusicianTuts(opens in a new tab or window). Having students write their own lyrics to a song or create a melody to help them memorize a definition or math equation are just a couple of ideas. Arsenault also believes that music can play an integral role in team-building exercises

Even if there aren’t any impressive-looking “results” from in-class creativity, it’s still a highly valuable skill for students to build. When the learning environment is designed to make students stronger learners, problem solvers, critical thinkers and innovators, it’s preparing them for greater success beyond the classroom.

How can you encourage creativity in the classroom?

As an educator, it’s up to you to inject some creativity into your classroom environment. Your approach may vary whether you’re leading an elementary classroom or teaching a high school subject. But this roundup of ideas can help you get started:

1. Choose a flexible classroom layout

Students work in many different formats — from group projects to solo assessments, listening to presentations and more. Create collaborative learning(opens in a new tab or window) layouts to keep the creativity flowing between different activities. Instead of lining up desks, create pods, a U-shaped layout or separate group tables where students can work together. Experiment and change it up to make sure your classroom can accommodate a range of activities and learning styles.

2. Follow a classroom theme

One of the most fun and immersive classroom decor ideas is to follow a classroom theme, from the bulletin board to the classroom door. Whether you choose an Ancient Egyptian theme to align with your subject matter or a superhero theme to remind your students of their unique powers, explain the motif to your students and encourage them to find parallels between the theme and what they’re learning.

3. Create a classroom library

Encourage reading by giving your students easy access to an array of interesting books appropriate to their grade level. Add a creative, collaborative element by having your class help create recommendations for readers who like different genres, or help organize and categorize your classroom library.

4. Visualize ideas and goals

Empower your students to set their own goals and map out ideas in their own original ways. Teach them how to use different types of graphic organizers like concept maps(opens in a new tab or window), mind maps(opens in a new tab or window), Venn diagrams, circuit diagrams(opens in a new tab or window), visual timelines, and other resources.

5. Create opportunities for reflection

Reflective activities help students absorb information more deeply, enhancing their creative and contextual understanding of new concepts. Display reflective learning resources in your classroom that students can focus on.

6. Display inspirational quotes

Featuring inspirational quote posters in your learning environment can lead the way to great conversations and critical thinking. Urge your class to consider and discuss the meaning of each message and how it can be applied. Some quotes directly encourage students to unleash their creativity as well.

Browse our roundup of 30 inspirational quotes for students(opens in a new tab or window) to find the right words of wisdom

7. Enliven your virtual classroom

Remote learning doesn’t only need to involve screen time. Incorporate hands-on creative challenges into your distance learning program to keep the creative juices flowing. For instance, encourage your class to get up and about with a virtual scavenger hunt or make something using found objects from around the home or outside.

8. Take your teaching outside

Speaking of outside — when the weather’s nice, dedicate some of the day to hosting an outdoor classroom. Choose active, exploratory activities you can’t do indoors. Consider setting up an outdoor project like a vegetable garden as well. This adds a whole new dimension to the learning environment.

9. Introduce multimedia learning materials

Go beyond textbooks and worksheets and work with a variety of learning materials. For a high school class, you could bring some of the most inspiring minds into your classroom by sharing TED Talks and podcasts. For a middle school class, you might Incorporate music, videos(opens in a new tab or window), and interactive media like gamified educational software into your lesson plan.

10. Support hands-on learning

Hands-on learning provides students with an arena to express new ideas, think critically and voice their opinions, ultimately engaging them on a deeper level. The trick is to let students dive into the real thing first, and then introduce the theory.

For a media class, let students create their own websites before discussing web design principles. For a math lesson, have students build paper airplanes and use “flight” information to estimate things like speed and velocity.

11. Encourage outside-the-box assignment formats

Let your students choose the format they want to follow for an assignment. Instead of the typical book report essay, maybe they’d rather share their ideas through a photo essay, skit, diorama or recipe.

12. Explore different cultures

Developing students' ability to consider multiple perspectives is an important part of thinking creatively. Celebrate cultural differences while learning from them. Invite members of your class to bring their own cultural context into tasks and discussions. Recognize different global holidays and the origins behind them, host a family heritage day at school and assign readings that explore diverse worldviews and practices.

13. Incorporate humor into your classroom

Comedy requires creativity, and inviting tasteful humor into the school day can help create a positive environment where outside-the-box thinking can flourish. Encourage your kids to think of relevant pop culture references, puns and jokes for a lighthearted dose of classroom cleverness.

14. Have students practice creative journaling

Learning and creativity are all about growth — and journaling is a great way to record the journey and encourage reflection. But this doesn’t have to be limited to writing. Students can create anything from a video diary to an art journal where each sketchbook page is a catchall for combining ideas and notes with new art techniques.

15. Encourage more color

Color in the classroom can have value beyond elementary school. Encourage students to color-coordinate their school subjects and use color when note-taking and studying. Use color around the room as well with vibrant posters or themed corners.

16. Act it out

Get your class up and moving with skits or a class play. This type of activity can engage a lot of creative muscles — from writing original scripts and troubleshooting rehearsals to collaborating on costume creation.

17. Team-building exercises

There aren't right or wrong answers in team-building — just cooperative strategies that allow peers to think, communicate and create together. From untangling a human knot or getting out of an escape (class)room to collectively telling a story one word at a time, there are lots of activities to try.

18. Motivate students with rewards and recognition

Rewarding student accomplishments with visual recognition is a great motivator and can instill a sense of pride in all their hard work. Create certificates that praise all types of creative efforts — not just the successes.

19. Celebrate class wins with ceremonies

Allow students to plan victory ceremonies when they collectively meet class goals. Whether they choose a costumed pizza party or create their own traditions, encourage them to be innovative and have a lot of fun.

Want to get creative with easy, inspiring design templates for your classroom? K-12 teachers can access Canva Pro features for free through Canva for Education(opens in a new tab or window).

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