Inspiring Students: 9 Ways to Support Your Student’s Creativity

Are you an educator who struggles with your creative students?

While some students are well-suited to the world of academia, others struggle. Their creativity is a gift, but it may cause them to feel under-stimulated and unfulfilled in a conventional classroom environment. 

Inspiring students to express themselves and learn in their own ways is part of your job. Are you up to the challenge?

If you’re ready to commit to improving your classroom, keep reading to learn all about how you can make your classroom friendlier to unconventional thinkers and encourage creativity.

1. Allow "Outside of the Box" Thinking

Depending on the age of the students you’re teaching, you may feel inclined to encourage only one way of thinking. The delivery of facts and figures is difficult and daunting. As a teacher, you know that students will have to think inside of the box most of the time. 

That said, by discouraging “outside of the box” thinking, you’re not doing your students any favors. 

Consider the following example. You’ve taught your students how to attack a math problem in a specific way. You’ve shown them step-by-step directions that should lead them to the correct answer.

One of your students finds the correct answer through a different method. Do you take points off?

If your answer is yes, you’re discouraging creativity. Part of inspiring students is showing them that their methods are valid, even if they’re unique or unconventional. 

Creativity is expected in the world of explorative ventures like writing or drawing. By allowing it in more “strict” fields, like math and science, you’re creating unique thinkers.

2. Encourage Independent Problem-Solving

Some children never develop good problem-solving skills because they have answers fed to them by teachers or other students.

It’s important to encourage students to collaborate (more on that later), but one of the best teaching strategies to encourage creativity is to incorporate independent problem-solving. 

Most children are blessed with some form of creativity. Their minds are still elastic and they tend to see things from unique perspectives. They can solve problems on their own if you give them the resources instead of the answers.

By expecting children to figure things out without too much help, you’re encouraging them to discover creative solutions and use their brains. You’ll be shocked by what these young thinkers come up with on their own!

3. Don't Discourage Doodles

Many teachers get frustrated when they notice a child who is doodling or writing non-academic things in the margins of their schoolwork. 

While it’s important that your students do all of their work, a student who is doodling while listening, thinking, or after their work is done should be encouraged, not discouraged. Doodling is often the first step on a child’s path toward being an artist. It’s often what leads to powerful stories, movies, and comics.

Even if the child never becomes a full-fledged artist, doodling can be a sign that this child processes information in a different way. Some children doodle while they think.

Some children doodle when they’re trying to stay focused, not because they’re distracted. Consider giving the child a separate sheet of paper for doodling and a place to save, maybe even display, their work. Let them know that their creativity alongside their schoolwork is important. 

4. Focus on Strengths

Speaking of allowing doodles, make sure that you teach to each student’s strengths.

This is difficult when you have many students. It requires flexibility and unique lesson plans. The extra effort will make a huge difference in each child’s life. 

There’s a saying that goes “Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” While this quote is often misattributed to Einstein, it has some truth behind it. 

While all children are capable and you should encourage them to do things outside of their comfort zones, you also have to remember that some children have strengths that lie outside of traditional schoolwork.

When you notice that a child isn’t responding to the way that you’re teaching them, why not try something new? 

For example, let’s talk about book reports.

Some children love to write book reports. They’re good at analyzing texts and writing about their thoughts. Other children struggle with this, but this doesn’t mean they haven’t read the book or don’t have anything to say.

When you do a final project on a book, why not allow alternative methods? 

Students can make picture book summaries, short videos, powerpoints, and more. Each of these approaches can allow the child to show their understanding of the book. It enables them to work to their best ability. Grading students based on the expectations of conventional education instead of their strengths isn’t helpful. Here’s where you get to think outside the box.

5. Set Up a Flexible Classroom

What does your classroom layout look like? 

If you’re like many teachers, children are either in pods or individual desks. You may rearrange seats every so often, but overall, students remain in their own spots.

There are benefits to this. If you know that some students can’t work together or can’t stop talking to each other, it’s helpful to keep them apart. That said, is it really the best option?

Consider allowing a flexible seating plan when students are working together. 

By allowing flexibility, you’re encouraging students to collaborate and work together on tasks. They learn to get along and talk to each other (which is crucial for their social development). 

Encourage children to work with people with whom they’ve never worked before. This makes children think and interact in new ways.

Inspiring creativity by encouraging collaboration and communication is a wonderful way to incorporate unique thinking and problem-solving into the classroom. It also gives your students a level of independence that they wouldn’t otherwise have.

6. Hands-On Learning Matters

How many opportunities do your students have to engage in hands-on learning? 

Many children learn by doing or by engaging in unique experiences. While reading a book is good enough for some students, others will flex their creativity muscles when they have the opportunity to be more interactive with their lessons. 

Hands-on learning activities are often enriching, fun, and creative. You might have, readily available, manipulative, art supplies, or recycled materials. Consider a cadre of dress-up clothing, masks, and beads and baubles to embellish these items. Imagine the re-enactments and storytelling that might come alive. 

7. Create Unconventional Lesson Plans

Speaking of hands-on learning, it’s your job as an educator to create unique and unconventional lesson plans to support and encourage creative students. 

Lecturing or reading to students is easy. For new teachers, this is often the most obvious way to adapt to a teaching environment. That said, these approaches aren’t simulating for creative children. 

Consider adding unique activities when you’re trying to spark creativity in your classroom. Put yourself in the mind of a student: What would you like to do if you were them? 

Sometimes the best lesson plans involve field trips, even if they’re small. You don’t need an expensive or well-planned trip to stretch a student’s mind in new ways.

Can’t take them out of the classroom? Bring the field trip to them by inviting local community members, experts, and hobbyists to visit your classroom and share their knowledge. You might even encourage a joint project with a school around the world or in a neighboring town. 

If you’re teaching a science lesson, why not make it into a scavenger hunt? Take children on a nature walk and have them locate local flora and fauna.

You can also create a classroom garden. Have children decorate their own pots and give them seeds to nurture and take care of. This shows them the life cycles of plants in real-time. 

When it comes to teaching literature, consider using short plays or others engaging multi-sensory activities to teach the children and encourage their creativity. Let them make small costume accessories and work together to put on brief “shows” for the rest of the class. 

By teaching in unconventional ways, you’re making students think in unconventional ways. 

8. Use Visual Aids

If you want your children to feel confident when they’re expressing their creativity, consider using more visual aids in the classroom.

Most assignments in conventional classrooms aren’t stimulating. They may cause students to feel bored and uninspired. By adding examples and items to handle, manipulate, and examine more closely you may spark some creative responses.

Better yet, allow your students to help create these visual aids. Let them consider the topic you are introducing, do some research prior to your delivery, and create the materials that you’ll use while delivering your lesson plan. 

This gives children more autonomy and responsibility and lets them flex their creativity muscles. 

9. Follow Your Students' Lead

When you’re not sure how to support students who need more creative education strategies, try to follow their lead.

You can’t put children in charge of their education, but you can watch them learn what they need. A lot of the teaching process is trial and error, so test out new strategies with your creative students and see what works best for them. 

While it may seem silly, consider asking your students what they would like to see in your classroom. It’s possible that students will write down silly things, like extra recess or pizza parties, but many will share ideas that are useful to you. Ask them how they best learn.

Inspiring Students: It Starts With You

Inspiring students is one of the best and most fulfilling aspects of being an educator. You’re molding and shaping young minds and preparing these children for the real world.

While academic education is important, supporting creative students and encouraging their creativity (instead of trying to tame it) will change their lives and outlooks. You might be helping a future creator. 

Are you ready to make some much-needed changes to your teaching strategies and educational style? Why not pursue new and unconventional possibilities

Karen Guiffre is committed to fostering positive learning environments for all students. For tips and mentorships, get in touch today.

What is a Multisensory Teaching Technique?

Applying a multisensory learning technique can be as simple as following along in a book as a student reads aloud. It can be as complex as using percussion instruments to demonstrate a mathematical principle. There is no template for student-centered learning. 

It can be overwhelming for teachers who are getting started with this whole-brain and whole-body approach to education. I’ve found it helpful to break it down into modalities. Keep in mind that multisensory teaching, by definition, involves using two or more modalities to reach learners.

What Is a Multisensory Learning Technique?

New teachers have told me, “I use multisensory techniques in my classroom! I have an essential oil diffuser! Sometimes I play music during the writer’s workshop!” 

These are wonderful ways to create a pleasant, home-like environment for your students. They are also great examples of what multisensory learning is not. 

Teachers who utilize multisensory learning techniques utilize multiple modalities to reach their students. We can shorten the list of modalities to VAKT – visual, auditory, kinesthetic, and tactile. Strong multisensory activities utilize two or more senses at once. 

Like all solid pedagogy, a multisensory teaching technique must be intentional. Teachers employing this technique are not sending unconscious sensory cues to their students. They are very deliberately teaching students to take in new learning through their senses across content areas. 

This is especially important for budding children but ultimately serves every individual we teach. When I think of some of my most memorable former students, my mind goes to their particular strengths and worldviews. The first step toward teaching through all of the senses is to identify and embrace the diverse ways your unique students experience the world. 

Teachers who employ multisensory teaching techniques effectively provide various sensory-driven entry points to any area of learning. I’ll be honest; it requires a lot of empathic perspective-taking! You must help students use their own prior knowledge to make meaningful sensorial connections. 

How can you help your students touch reading? How can you guide them to hear math? Do they have the opportunity to embody the history and see science?

Why Use Multisensory Techniques?

Teaching students through the senses is a way of teaching children how to imagine the world complexly. You are allowing students to practice using their whole brains to process their unique human experience.

Neuroscience and Connections

While children’s brains are developing, they are creating synapses all of the time. The more synapses they have, the easier they can make connections and recall information. If they don’t make certain connections, they will lose them, sometimes for life. 

Engaging the senses helps students create and hold onto information by activating the areas of the brain tied to memory. 

While Howard Gardner’s theories surrounding the multiple intelligences and learning styles may be less concise than initially thought, they still inform educational practice. The research shows us that students learn best when they engage in both novel and meaningful ways

As classroom educators, we know that we are not the students’ only teachers. Their families and environments have taught them first. It is our job to harness that context to support them as learners. 

We help build bridges and form connections when we honor the ways that students learn best. Offering multiple entry points to learning is a way of recognizing where children come from and helping them get where they want to be. In that regard, multisensory learning is all about connections.


Multisensory learning has the added benefit of being highly engaging. What student doesn’t rise to the occasion when the material is presented in a way that addresses their individual strengths as a learner? Multisensory learning involves learning. 

I am always amazed by the wealth of lessons and experiences that I can recall from my time as a student. It should not be surprising that each of those experiences was active! I was busy reading, making, talking, and moving! 

Once I began implementing more intentional multisensory techniques in my classrooms, I found I was equally involved as a co-learner. I also benefited from receiving new learning through my senses! I have many fond memories of exploring beside my students, and all are tied to knowledge. 

The most engaged students are using their senses constantly. Project-based learning (in which the student is the researcher) can teach you the many ways students gravitate toward sensory experiences. When given agency, students will show you what they understand using the sensorial languages in which they are fluent!


For a full-body experience to sink in, it must be meaningful. Often, this means that students are reading aloud to other students or using oral language to present findings. The auditory element of multisensory learning means both hearing and making audible. 

When my peer is my teacher, I can both hear and see. When my peer is my collaborator, I can speak and create. When my peer is my student, I can guide them toward understanding in the way that best reaches them. 

As a result, multisensory learning is inherently a social process! I would go as far as to say that, in a classroom that embraces multisensory learning, engaging fully in one’s education can be an act of service. Students are constantly serving one another in these small but important ways.

What Does Multisensory Learning Look Like?

If you haven’t been lucky enough to see the multisensory approach to learning in action, you may be stumped when it comes to how to apply these engaging techniques. I have found it helpful to break them down into individual sensory modalities.

Remember that multisensory learning involves teaching and learning through more than one modality at a time. The key is combining the modalities in exciting and dynamic ways.

Make Learning Visual

Visual learning seems to be one of the easiest modalities for teachers to implement. This can be as simple as “including visuals” – a PowerPoint presentation, a poster, a picture. Seeing the thing you are talking about can be enough to make ideas click, especially for younger learners. 

This can also mean utilizing color in a meaningful way. Students may highlight, organize information, or create some sort of visual sort. This can easily be made tactile or kinesthetic! 

It is also meaningful for students to craft their own visuals, which are active and tactile. Students who are drawing, sketching from life, or creating from imagination are all deeply engaged.

Make Learning Auditory

A multisensory classroom is not always a quiet classroom. After all, what does learning sound like? Students who are explaining, reading aloud, composing, and listening are all teaching and learning. 

Curate podcasts or audiobooks! Use period music and place your students in context to teach history! Allow students to present to peers and explain what they understand in their own words!

Make Learning Tactile

Even the most traditional pedagogy involves the use of tactile sensory techniques to teach symbols such as letters and numbers. How can students touch the alphabet? How can they use materials to build models that confirm what they understand about the ways numbers work?

Students love to make. Research on young learners has shown that they are less intimidated when asked to make a book than writing one. Providing opportunities for students to become makers is a great way to implement tactile experiences across the content areas.

Make Learning Kinesthetic

Kinesthetic learning has the added benefit of supporting the young child’s developmental needs. Fine and gross motor development is essential for engagement in more complex academic tasks. Kinesthetic learning supports a learner’s need to build muscles and proprioceptive skills. 

Most of the time, kinesthetic learning means incorporating games into the classroom. These games don’t need to be competitive, but they should be engaging! How can you incorporate materials like tweezers, beanbags, or skipping rope? 

Better yet, have the students develop their own games to teach, review, or reinforce learning.

Multisensory Teaching and Learning for a Harmonious, Engaged Environment

By now, creative teachers will be making their own connections and finding ways to mix and match these sensory modalities to create high-engagement experiences for their students! What are you doing in your classroom to implement this multisensory learning technique? What new ideas might you try to encourage students to participate in their education with their whole-brain and whole-body? 

I would love to hear from you and learn more about your experiences! Visit my website to contact me and tell me what you’ve tried. While you’re there, feel free to read some of the other helpful posts intended to support teachers.