Creativity requires as much practice as any other skill. These quick creativity work-outs will help your students exercise their creative muscles.

1. Alternative Uses

Developed by J.P. Guilford in 1967, the Alternative Uses Test stretches your creativity by giving you two minutes to think of as many uses as possible for an everyday object like a chair, coffee mug, or brick. Here’s a sample brainstorm for “paper clip” uses:

  • Hold papers together
  • Cufflinks
  • Earrings
  • Imitation mini-trombone
  • Thing you use to push that emergency restart button on your router
  • Keeping headphones from getting tangled up
  • Bookmark

The test measures divergent thinking across four sub-categories:

  • Fluency - how many uses you can come up with
  • Originality – how uncommon those uses are (e.g. “router restarter” is more uncommon than “holding papers together”)
  • Flexibility – how many areas your answers cover (e.g. cufflinks and earrings are both accessories, aka one area)
  • Elaboration – level of detail in responses; “keeping headphones from getting tangled up” would be worth more than “bookmark”

Try it yourself:

How many uses can you think of for a spoon? You have two minutes… Go!

2. Incomplete Figure

Developed in the ’60s by psychologist Ellis Paul Torrance, the Torrance Test of Creative Thinking (TTCT) sought to identify a creativity-oriented alternative to IQ testing. One of the most iconic elements of the TTCT was the Incomplete Figure test.

You’re given a shape like the below, and then asked to complete the image.

incomplete images.png

Try it yourself:

Print out these figures, and give yourself five minutes to see what you can turn them in to. Uncommon subject matter, implied stories, humor, and original perspective all earn high marks.

3. Thirty Circles Exercise

This is a three minute competition. Each student takes a writing utensil and the 30 circles template. Their goal is to make as many images as they can in 3 minutes. For example, a students could add just a few lines to turn a circle into a baseball, or add a stem to make it an apple. The winner is the person who creates the most unique images in three minutes.