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Flexible Thinking

Purpose: to access creative and original thinking (ideas that are unique, unusual, and not expected), and to access flexible thinking (ideas that are different from each other)

Concepts Introduced:

  • Understanding that being able to create many different ideas is important.
  • When brainstorming, there are many acceptable responses.
  • Originality is important for our needs, wants, and many purposes (working on inventions, for example).

Materials needed:


  1. Ask, "What do you think the word flexible means? Please give me a few examples." Your child may initially discuss things that are flexible in the bendable way such as a thin branch blown by wind, a gymnast, index cards, etc. Explain that flexibility is also an important cornerstone of creativity. Help your child understand that flexibility (in creativity) is about generating ideas that are different from each other. Thinking flexibly is a valuable skill because it allows you to get out of a “thinking rut” in order to come up with a whole new idea to solve problems in many ways or create something new.
  2. Have your child discuss these ideas to help understand flexibility:
    1. Rover always comes when he is called, but yesterday he did not come when his owner called. Give three possible reasons why.
    2. Kate broke her pencil point, but she did not use the pencil sharpener. Give three possible reasons why.
  3. Explain that flexible thinking involves brainstorming many, varied and unusual ideas.

Brainstorming Warm-up Activities:

  1. Distribute paper clips and ask the student to use flexible thinking to silently brainstorm possible uses of the paper clip.
  2. Show Picture Magic and ask the student to brainstorm the many, varied, and unusual things that this object could be made into. Turn the picture all different ways so students get a different perspective. With each turn of the paper ask, "What picture could you make?"
  3. Show a copy of Magazine Magic examples and have the student brainstorm other pictures that could be made using the bottle, a table, and a bowl of shrimp.

Independent Application:

  1. Distribute magazines, paper, glue stick, scissors, and crayons to your child.
  2. Explain that the child will select a picture of an object from a magazine and use flexible thinking to brainstorm the many, varied, and unusual ways to determine what the object could become.
  3. Direct your child to select a picture, cut it out, and glue it on paper.
  4. Encourage your child to use flexible thinking and crayons to transform the object into some different.
  5. Have your child share the finished product with someone else and display the child's work where others will see it.


  • Throughout the week, discuss situations with the student when flexible thinking was useful to you at home, at work, or any situation you can think of.
  • Identify famous inventors and explain how they used flexible thinking.