How do you feel about surprises?  Perhaps it depends on the type of surprise you experience.  A surprise tax bill can be upsetting, but a surprise tax refund can be a cause for celebration.  In this mission, we are looking to create delightful surprises for your family.

What does surprise have to do with creativity?  Introducing surprising elements into one’s life builds flexibility.  Not the kind of flexibility that you can gain from a dance class, but the mental flexibility which is so important for developing your creative capacity.  Ultimately, mental flexibility helps us to adapt to change and exploit the opportunities that suddenly emerge.

You can watch this short video that explains the activity or follow the directions below.

Activity Four: Summer of Surprises!

For this activity, you and your family will generate a list of things you could do over the rest of the summer.  You will need to set a parameter of how long the surprise will take to complete.  For example,  an hour, a half-day, or a full day.  Invite everyone in your family to generate ten things they would like to do in that set of time. Write down one idea per post-it, fold them up, and put them into a bowl or bucket (which you can have your child decorate if they wish!).  Before the ideas go into the bucket, make sure they can be completed within the time parameters, your budget, and safety.

Here are some examples:

  • Go park-hopping
  • Go on a hike
  • Clean the basement
  • Find the biggest ice cream in your area
  • Make a five-course dinner
  • Stage a 5-minute version of your favorite movie
  • Go to the drive-in
  • Create a family song
  • Have a movie marathon
  • Bake cookies and leave them on your neighbor’s doorstep
  • Visit a local museum
  • Build a Rube Goldberg machine

Next, designate some time for your “surprise”.  Have a family member pull a post-it from the bucket (no peeking!) and start your surprising adventure!

Dr. Cyndi Burnett is the Director of Possibilities for Creativity and Education. Like her creativity-focused curriculum for students and teachers, Cyndi embraces the creative lifestyle that she teaches. You will often find her trying on new ideas, exploring resources to stretch her thinking, and being an advocate for playfulness and humor. Although she loves to research and write about creativity, Cyndi is a firm believer in field service. She has 20 years of teaching experience as an academic at the International Center for Studies in Creativity at SUNY Buffalo State where she instructed classes in creative-thinking and creative problem-solving.

Cyndi is the co-author of the books Weaving Creativity into Every Strand of Your Curriculum20 Lessons for Weaving Creativity into your Curriculum, and My Sandwich Is a Spaceship: Creative Thinking for Parents and Young Children.

Check out more blogs from Cyndi here.

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