Creative Thinking with 8 year olds

This time a workshop for a group of 8 year olds in Amsterdam North, on color and lateral connections. I’m fascinated by synesthesia (hearing colors, seeing sounds etc) and I was wondering a few things:

a) are children are more likely (than adults) to experience synesthesia?
b) would stimulating synesthesia promote creative thinking?

With creative thinking I mean the ‘Torrance Framework of Creative Thinking’, which gives us these characteristics:

  • Fluency. The total number of interpretable, meaningful, and relevant ideas generated in response to the stimulus.
  • Flexibility. The number of different categories of relevant responses.
  • Originality. The statistical rarity of the responses among the test subjects.
  • Elaboration. The ability to give detail to the ideas generated.

When working with groups I always strive for the optimum balance of structure and freedom. The workshop program for the group of 15 children, ages 7 and 8 years, was about one and half hours long and looked like this:

– Short presentation on color scheme’s, rainbows and how your eye perceives color.
– A movement exercise: ‘Move like a color’
– Choose a color and work with the color wheel see below.
 Share your findings.



Each child using the sheet chose a (favorite) color, filled in with text or drawing, what the feeling, sound, taste, shape, and smell were for that color.

So what did I discover?
I guess my test workshop was not really designed to answer my questions, I would need to do a series of lab test with various groups and read the literature.

What I did learn was:
About a third of the group were high on flexibility, fluency, and elaboration. It was easy for them to understand the idea of imagining a color and what it might sound like, what it tastes like, what it moves like etc.
About a third of the group struggled, it seemed a strange request to them, and their imaginations were not serving them with much response.
Possibly the most interesting is the last third. This group initially responded with surprise and some confusion, but with a fe small suggestions and questions got right down to it and enjoyed exploring this way of looking at their chosen color. In my design research style (as opposed to scientific research), this is the group who have the most to benefit from being exposed to creative thinking programs in schools or other channels. I suspect they have a creative tendency but that is nit (yet) encoraged in their home environment.


It would be interesting next to interview the children, their parents and teachers on their attitudes to creativity and see if there is a correlation between attitudes to creativity and scores in creative thinking exercises.

I loved that this girl, whose favorite color is black, said that black for her sounds like the wind,  has a shape like a jump, and tastes like an apple. She also gave black a new name: Klink.

3 thoughts on “Creative Thinking with 8 year olds

  1. Pingback: Can you measure Creativity at Schools and should we try? | Emer Beamer @ Unexpect

  2. Hi Emer
    Where you say about the last group that “… they have a creative tendency but that is nit (yet) encoraged in their home environment,” I would like to add that it may be not only the home environment. Sadly, and too frequently, the school environment does not offer kids creative challenges, particularly not in the school subjects other than the arts. I am worried that this is one of the reasons why so many kids hate school when they get older.

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