Teaching Kids to Brainstorm

Brainstorming stretches children’s minds. This skill is useful in something as simple as writing a sentence all the way to creative writing. It’s also useful in reading skills, math skills, social studies and science skills, and also in higher level thinking skills.  It is used in problem solving and the creation of solutions.  Creative people brainstorm, and this will be a skill children will use throughout their life.

PART ONE – BRAINSTORMING FROM WHAT IS VISIBLE:

The first step in teaching children how to brainstorm is for the teacher to model brainstorming, show them how you yourself brainstorm. Think out loud to demonstrate this. Take something they can see such as one of their classmates.   Think out loud and write on the board everything about that student.  For example:

  • Her name is Sally.
  • She’s in first grade.
  • She has blonde hair.
  • She has long hair.
  • She’s wearing jeans and a T-shirt.
  • She wears glasses.
  • She has a big smile.
  • She has a picture of a dog on her T-shirt.

Another example would be to take a book, preferably a big book so all students can see easily.   If I had the book about Goldilocks and the Three Bears, then this is what I would write on the board from what we could see in the picture on the front of the book:

  • There are three bears.
  • One bear is really big.
  • One bear is little.
  • One bear is in-between size.
  • The bears are brown.
  • There is a girl.
  • She is little.
  • She has blonde hair.
  • She is wearing a dress.
  • Here dress is blue and red.
  • There is a house.
  • It has a door and two windows.
  • There are lots and lots of trees (a forest).
  • There are flowers beside the house.

After you have modeled for the students, then brainstorm together with the students.  After that, have the students practice brainstorming with a partner, then by themselves.

PART TWO – BRAINSTORMING FROM WHAT IS KNOWN BUT NOT VISIBLE:

The second step is to brainstorm about something known that they can’t see. Again, it’s important for the teacher to model brainstorming and think out loud. Show them how you yourself brainstorm. Choose something to brainstorm about that’s well known to them.  Maybe it’s the school playground, the car in the garage, or grandma and grandpa’s house. After modeling this, then have the students brainstorm together with you on another topic. Ask them for their input and suggestions. Then let them try it by themselves or with their partner.

PART THREE – BRAINSTORMING WHAT IS NOT KNOWN AND NOT VISIBLE:

This last part is valuable in creative writing. Follow the same steps in parts one and three, except this time it will be brainstorming something they don’t really know much about. Discuss ideas with them and try to pick something that interests them. Ask “what if” questions and stir their imaginations. Examples would be “what if you went to the moon” or “what would it be like if you could fly,” etc.