Creative Thinking Prompt: Jelly Bean Surprise


Creative Thinking Prompt: Jelly Bean Surprise

Write the word ‘bean’ at the top of a piece of lined paper. Brainstorm 25 things related to ‘bean.’ Then think up five more.

bean stalk

jelly bean

lima bean

pinto bean

bean sprout

black bean

refried beans

string beans

green bean

bean bag chair

bean bag

Pick five or more from your list and write a story using the title, Jelly Bean Surprise. Your chosen items can be characters, part of the story problem, part of the solution, part of the setting, etc.

As you write, remember that stories have a beginning (character has a problem), middle (character attempts to solve problem), and end (character solves the problem). When you’re finished, share your story, if you’d like.




Animals, people, storybook characters live in many different structures called homes. Carson Ellis introduces readers to a variety of homes found throughout time and the world.


Illustrations tickle readers’ imaginations as they wonder about who lives in these homes.


This story promotes flexible thinking, making connections, and diversity.


AUTHOR: Carson Ellis


PUBLISHER: Candlewick Press, 2015


CREATIVE COMPONENTS: flexible thinking, making connections, and diversity


1) Think about the neighborhood you live in. List 10 different homes. Think about a place you visited. List 10 different homes. Compare the homes on your lists. How are they alike? How are they different? Which home would you only like to visit and why? Which home would you like to live in and why?

2) Home and house can mean different things to different people. What does each mean to you? What does qualities does a home have that a house doesn’t?


To learn more about author/ illustrator Carson Ellis, visit:

Creative Thinking Prompt: I Wonder


Creative Thinking Prompt: I Wonder

Today these are the things I wonder about:

I wonder…

why pickles taste sour

how high butterflies soar

how many grass blades are in my yard

do worms feel coldness

why do I like milk chocolate sometimes and other times I only eat dark chocolate

how does my phone know how to spell words better than me

who said 1+1=2

what if my bike had three wheels parallel to each other, would I ride safer

why does peanut butter and jelly taste good to some people and not others

what would it be like to be Benjamin Franklin’s apprentice

why do we grin when we feel happy and frown when we are sad

how our brains store our memories and why I can’t remember certain things like geometry

what would happen if I mixed dirt, sand and paint together

why I can’t run as fast as a cheetah

if I lived in an alternate universe would I have a superpower

What do you wonder?

Create your own I wonder list. Think up as many wonders as you can in 15 minutes. Then pick one wonder and discover the answer using your imagination and different resources such as experts and books.

Think Deeper: In a month or two or even three, create another list. Did you have any new wonders? Did you find any answers to your original I wonder list?

Red Sings From Treetops


“Red Sings From Treetops”

“In Spring, Red sings from treetops. Red squirms on the road after rain. Green peeks from buds. While sounds like storms.” – Joyce Sidman

Written in beautiful lyrical verse, Red Sings From Treetops, a Caldecott Honor Book, explores nature as colors throughout the span of a year.


Through Joyce Sidman’s vivid sensory language and the gorgeous illustrative work of Pamela Zagarenski, readers’ senses are fully engaged as well as their critical thinking skills.

This story promotes analogical thinking, flexible thinking, imagination, and critical thinking.

TITLE: Red Sings From Treetops, A Year in Colors

AUTHOR: Joyce Sidman

ILLUSTRATOR: Pamela Zagarenski

PUBLISHER: Houghton Mifflin, 2009


CREATIVE COMPONENTS: analogical thinking, flexible thinking, imagination, critical thinking


1) Look around a room. Notice the colors of things. Pick one color to represent two or three objects in that room. Use action verbs, a few adjectives and a simile or metaphor to describe each object.

For example:

BROWN stands on sturdy legs

and rests its cushioned arms.

Frolicking BROWN chases

bouncing spheres.

What does BROWN represent?

Did you guesss a couch and a dog?

2) What’s another word? Create a list of 5 things in your bedroom. Next to each item, write another word or words for that item. For example: bedspread – a toasted sandwich wrap. Then using those alternate words, create a poem about your room.


To learn more about author Joyce Sidman, visit:

To learn more about illustrator Pamela Zagarenski, visit:

Creative Thinking Prompt: What Can You Do With Pretzels?

Creative Thinking Prompt: What Can You Do With Pretzels?

Build a roller coaster of course. Using different sized pretzels, a hot glue gun, and their imaginations, contest contestants built coasters. Although I don’t believe Synder’s of Hanover sponsors this contest anymore, watch this Youtube video to be inspired to build your own coaster.


Or make animals using melted chocolate and candy decorations.


Photo courtesy of:

Or use pretzel bread to make a sandwich.

What can you do with a bag of pretzels?

ABCs Naturally


ABCs Naturally”

Alphabet hunters wanted! Each letter is featured with a nature photograph as well as an accompanying fun poem to illustrate the letter.

abcnaturallyp1   abcnaturally2

In the back of the book, each nature letter is described in more detail with facts and folklore.

This story promotes discovery, imagination, different viewpoints, and nature.

TITLE: ABCs Naturally

AUTHOR: Lynne Smith Diebel and Jann Faust Kalscheur

PHOTOGRAPHS BY: Jann Faust Kalscheur

PUBLISHER: Trails Books, 2003


CREATIVE COMPONENTS: discovery, imagination, different viewpoints, nature


1) Take a nature walk and play “I Spy” to find your own nature letters of the alphabet. Challenge – Try to find two to three letter words in nature.

2) Take photographs and create your own nature alphabet unique to the environment and landscape around you.

3) How else can nature help you to learn?


To learn more about author Lynne Smith Diebel, visit:

To learn more about author/photographer Jann Faust Kalscheur, visit:


Creative Thinking Prompt: Bridging


London Bridge at the River Thames, England

Creative Thinking Prompt: Bridging

When you see the word bridge, you probably think of a structure that spans across water with the purpose to cross over the water. Now what if you think of a bridge as something that connects, how does that change what you picture as a bridge?

Brainstorm a list of what else can be a bridge. To help you get started: a smell is a bridge to a memory; a prized family recipe is a bridge to a family’s history; a story is a bridge to an experience.

Think Deeper: In addition to concrete and wood, brainstorm what else can compose a bridge.

How Does Your Garden Grow?


My Garden”

A daughter helps her mother tend her garden and wonders what she would grow in her own garden. She imagines chocolate bunnies, seashells, buttons,


ever-blooming patterned flowers,


a jellybean bush…and definitely no carrots. What would you grow in your garden?

This story promotes imagination and wonder.

TITLE: My Garden

AUTHOR: Kevin Henkes


PUBLISHER: Greenwillow Books, 2010


CREATIVE COMPONENTS: imagination, wonder


1) Imagine a garden where anything (fictional or real) could grow, what would you grow in your garden? Sketch your garden with at least 5-7 plants that you would grow. Give a name to your garden.

2) When it is said that someone has a green thumb, it means that person is really good at growing plants. What if that saying was changed? What could that mean? Invent a definition for having a yellow ring finger.

3) Create a new vegetable or fruit by combining two or three vegetables or fruits. What would it taste like, look like, feel like, smell like? What would it be used for? For example: jalapeno + carrot = spicy hot brown carrot that can be eaten as a snack and used in salads and salsas for an extra spicy crunch


To learn more about author/illustrator Kevin Henkes, visit:

Creative Thinking Prompt: Get Creative with Juggling


Creative Thinking Prompt: Get Creative with Juggling

Juggling increases the connectivity in our brains, helping us to focus, develop our hand-eye coordination and improve our spatial reasoning. In my opinion, if juggling betters all these brain processes, juggling can increase those same brain functions that are needed for creative thinking.

So…to learn how to juggle three balls, watch juggler instructor Niels Duinker:

Creative thinker Viktor Kee, a contestant on the TV show, America’s Got Talent (AGT), has brought juggling to an elevated work of art, combining artistry, acrobatics, dance and drama to pioneer his original exclusive style.

To watch Viktor’s performance on AGT:

To learn more about Viktor, visit:

ee cummings: Poet and Creative Thinker


enormous SMALLNESS: A story of E.E. Cummings ”

Visually entertaining and poetically written, this book honors poet ee cummings and his writing spirit. Cummings so loved lowercase letters that he wrote his name as ee cummings. Nature inspired his passion for writing. A rule breaker of rhythm and rhyme as well as a new word inventor, ee cummings was a creative thinker.

This story promotes the creative traits of a creative person – taking risks, passionate, imaginative, different perspective, and the desire to be creative.

TITLE: enormous SMALLNESS: A story of E.E. Cummings

AUTHOR: Matthew Burgess


PUBLISHER: Enchanted Lion Books, 2015


CREATIVE COMPONENTS: creative traits of a creative person – taking risks, passionate, imaginative, different perspective, desire to be creative


1) Author Matthew Burgess wrote that E.E. Cummings “drew many pictures from great circus of his imagination.” Cummings displayed many creative traits of a creative thinker. (see creative components) What creativity traits do you have? On a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being highest, how important is your creativity to you? How do you express your creativity?

2) For his 15th birthday, E.E. Cummings received The Rhymester, a guide to writing poems, which became one of his prized possessions. What is one of your prized possessions and why?


To learn more about author Matthew Burgess, visit:

To learn more about illustrator Kris DiGiacomo, visit:

To learn more about E.E. Cummings, visit: