Serious Play 1

In this series of posts we explore different techniques which can promote creativity in the classroom. They are all proposed with an interdisciplinary design in mind. We welcome ideas of what you have tried out and works in classrooms across schools.

Technique no1 : Plussing Yesses (Randy Nelson, Pixar) (15 mins plus)

Key ideas:

  • cognitive: Imaginative> Playing with possibilities > idea generation > enhancement through collaboration > refinement through review
  • social: developing trust and security to build confidence in generating ideas

say ‘yes’ to every idea, to create possibilities rather than dead ends; have a scribe put these into an open source bank (whiteboard!) using the exact words used by the student expressing the idea; make every person feel good about their idea

  • add value to those ideas, but avoid judging them. Ask students to take somebody else’s idea on the board and add something to it.
  • create clustersof students around groups of ideas and begin to assess the possibilities and problems with them.

Technique no2 : Pass and Catch (Vaughan Clark) (15 mins plus)

Key ideas:

  • cognitive: Imaginative > making connections > idea generation > enhancement through collaboration> building relevance and saliency
  • social: developing listening skills, patience


Pass and catch the idea, add to it and pass it on when asked to: one student expresses an idea, another then adds to it by building on it.  The idea is passed around the room amongst the students only until it comes to an end and a new idea is needed.

Students are encouraged to make their passes and catches connect appropriately and relevantly.  The teacher organises the ideas and supplementary comments on the whiteboard.

Students that have ideas that are not initially part of the passing sequence are encouraged to sketch these onto paper, until an appropriate time comes to express them.


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