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What is Creative Curriculum?

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  • 0:01 Making a Curriculum Creative
  • 2:18 Engaging Activities
  • 3:43 Creating Continuity
  • 5:11 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Clio Stearns
A creative curriculum is one that incorporates big ideas, varied and engaging activities, and a sense of continuity as a way to stimulate students, teachers, and even families. This lesson will teach you what a creative curriculum is and how to get creative with your own curriculum!

Making a Curriculum Creative

Curriculum is the knowledge, skill, and concepts that children learn, implicitly as well as explicitly, as a result of direct instruction. Creativity is the use of innovation, enthusiasm, and individuality. So what do creativity and curriculum have to do with one another? Simply put, a creative curriculum is one in which students learn through creative and active teaching strategies. Creative curriculum gets beyond rote learning and focuses on big ideas, interesting projects, and individual students' passions and needs. Often when we think of creativity, we think about tangible art, such as literature and music. These things can be an important part of a creative curriculum, but just about every element of a curriculum can be approached creatively, from science to math to history.

A creative curriculum is all about focusing on big concepts or ideas. For example, let's say you're working on a science curriculum about plants and how they grow. It's important for students to learn the stages of photosynthesis. Depending on their age range, you may want students to memorize things such as what a plant needs to survive, or even different types of plants, or plant reproduction. But a creative curriculum isn't really about memorizing facts. Instead, a creative curriculum is one that is oriented toward what is conceptually important. Take a few minutes to jot down what concepts about plants you think might be important to the age group you work with. Some examples of big ideas might be things like:

  • Plants have things they need in order to survive.
  • Different plants grow in different places, and this happens for a reason.
  • There are different categories of plants.

Once you have pinpointed three to five big, abstract ideas that outline your curriculum, you will be better prepared to get creative with specific activities.

Engaging Activities

A creative curriculum should include engaging activities that captivate students' attention and work to formulate an understanding of the big ideas. Of course, you could stand up in front of your students and lecture them about the attributes of plants. Or, you could get creative. Take them on a neighborhood walk and ask them to sketch and observe the plants they see. Borrow botanical guides from your school and local library. Build time into your lessons to go online and do virtual learning modules pertaining to plants. In general, the more varied activities you can incorporate into a unit of study, the more creative your curriculum will be. Varied activities will also appeal to and engage different types of learners.

If you have trouble coming up with ideas for activities, here are some starting points:

  • Get outside of your classroom or school building.
  • Incorporate art, music, and/or movement.
  • Incorporate dramatic role plays and other performances.
  • Invite guest experts, family members, or other outside speakers.
  • Incorporate technology in appropriate doses.

These guidelines can be great starting points for developing activities, whatever the topic you're exploring might be.

Creating Continuity

Remember that great curricula are tied together across units to create continuity, or connection to other units within the curriculum. In other words, when students finish studying plants, that doesn't mean plants should never come up in lessons again. Maybe a plant in your classroom is dying. Even though you have moved on to a study of weather systems, give your students an opportunity to access what they learned in your plant unit to help the dying plant. Ask students periodically if they are noticing anything about plants in the world around them.

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