Running a creative ideas session with students, other teachers, or community groups can be a great way to come up with new ideas and ensure a range of voices are heard. However, it can be hard to think of new ways to approach a problem. Use the ideas below to help structure a creative brainstorming session and have fun discussing your new ideas!
Warm up games
- Forced connections
Bring a bag of random items to your brainstorm. Working in pairs ask participants to select two random objects, and present them to the team next to them. Then ask each team to explain the many different ways these items are related. The point is not to come up with the clearest connections, but rather to start thinking creatively!
- When is a jar not a jar?
Use a selection of random items. What alternative uses can participants think each object? Can a jam jar be a glass, a lamp, or something else? Could you resell a stick as a luxury item?
Running a brainstorm
Pick a set of key questions or topics related to your project or issue. For instance, if you are running a brainstorm about next steps for a school community project (such as a Get Set Beacon’s project) you may want to consider practical questions of budget, activities, audience, accessibility or engagement. Alternatively, you may want to think more generally about how you are showing each of the Olympic and Paralympic Values through your project, or different ways you could address each of your aims going forward.
Once you have selected the key questions you want to answer with your session run through, or select from, the activities below to structure an active and creative brainstorming session.
- Rapid idea generation
Write your questions on a large piece of paper and stick these around a room. Give every participant a set of post-its. Divide participants evenly between the questions. Give participants one minute to come up with as many responses to the question as possible. Stress that this activity isn’t about perfect ideas, just thinking of as many ideas as possible – quantity not quality! After one minute, rotate the group to switch questions. Once complete, ask participants to walk around the room to read everyone’s responses. Participants can put a star/ dot next to ideas they think are interesting/ useful.
- Change one thing
To encourage creative thinking, run the rapid idea generation activity looking at the questions from unexpected viewpoints. How would participants respond to the questions if they were living 100 years ago, 1000 years ago, or 100 years in the future? How would they respond if they lived in a different country, if they were a superhero, a famous figure (Albert Einstein, the Prime Minister, Lionel Messi, Beyoncé, Nicola Adams OBE, Jonnie Peacock MBE), a teacher, a different age etc.?
- Vote with your feet
Using your key questions ask participants to stand by the question they think is the most important, the least important (etc), and finish standing by the question and/or responses they think is the most interesting. In groups participants discuss what they think is interesting about this question/response(s), then discuss how they would answer the question or pick their favourite response(s) to discuss and develop further. After discussion, invite each group to share their idea.
- SWOT Analysis.
Look at your new ideas (or general project plan) and ask participants to complete a SWOT of the idea. What are the Strengths? Weaknesses? Opportunities? Threats? How would they develop the idea further?
At the end of the brainstorm remember to take a note of all ideas – e.g. a photo of your post it boards etc. What ideas / aspects of the ideas could you put into action? Ask each participant to write down their top three ideas from the session and hand these in before they leave.
Following the session use all the ideas and each participants ‘top three’ to decide on next steps. It may help to consider these actions alone with a smaller group. Share your ‘actions’ with all participants alongside a summary of all the points discussed at the brainstorm, and start putting your ideas into action.
Want more resources to support a community project? Check out our Volunteering and Enterprise resources to help your students develop their employability, independent learning and teamwork skills.