Five Ways To Encourage Innovation In The Art Classroom


Defining Innovation

Innovation refers to a new method or process.

In order to encourage innovation, there must be something to think “innovative-ly” about!

To teach someone to read,
you provide books.
To teach someone to innovate,
you provide materials to work with and a problem to work around.

Activities To Encourage Innovation in the Art Room

Mistakes Poster
In order for students to innovate, they must get comfortable with making mistakes.

One way to make them more comfortable with their mistakes is to provide them with a Mistakes Poster that gives them some options for correcting their mistakes.

Perfectionism often seems to breed desertion of difficult tasks.

When a student can choose how to correct their mistake, they are given back control, which gives them alternative to giving up and shutting down.

Ephemera Box
Ephemera is a found or collected memento, from something temporary. For example: shreds of visually interesting advertisements, cancelled stamps, torn patterned paper.

Honestly, I started an Ephemera Box because I have a real hard time throwing “pretty” stuff away (like most art teachers!) and I wanted a place for old ribbon and glittery junk mail. Some might say it is a form of hoarding, but I find that since I started the box, my classroom now has quite the collection of materials for collage and journaling!

I keep a personal box of ephemera, too. I contribute when I want to keep some excerpts of notes with nice handwriting. When I have to get rid of a sketch that’s too big to store, I tear it into strips until some of it fits in my box.

Invention Station
Invention Station is an early finisher activity for students who are done with their projects.

There’s a few ways this can be done, but this is how I usually set it up.

I give students a problem on the board or on an index card size piece of paper.

Next, they have a box of materials, and they have to create something to solve that problem using only what’s in the box (plus scissors glue and/or tape).

They’ve come up with some interesting stuff!

Invitation for Creation
There are some examples of my monthly Invitation for Creation activities on previous blog posts!

Check them out here:

Warm Up Worksheets
The Warm Up Worksheets are meant to be a quick activity that’s assigned at the beginning of class. Basically, they are given 5-10 minutes to turn one shape into another picture.

Working on Warm Ups gives my students a way to practice creative thinking skills at the beginning of class- this helps them get an innovative mindset habit from the start!

Communicating the Importance of Innovation

Innovation drives the future of trendy products, helpful inventions, and give potential for us to find important solutions for worldwide issues.

Our students may have limited chances to practice these skills. This is why I feel it’s important that we, as art teachers, provide them opportunities for innovative thinking as much as possible.