how to teach creativity to kids: if anyone has any idea, please let me know

You’re creative!” wrote my children’s principal, in a cheery email to me a week or two ago. “Won’t you join us for Creativity Week?” Well, that sounded fun! I may not be the mom you want around for gingerbread man-making, but I’m a artistic sort! Sure, sign me up! I responded, figuring I’d be helping pass out the cray-pas to the second graders some afternoon.

Here, a lesson: read all fine print before signing any contract. It was only after my casual acceptance that I learned what the honor of being chosen for Creativity Week really meant: my second grader’s teacher hands me the reins for  thirty minutes, during which I creatively teach seventeen children about being creative. “Let me know if you need anything,” that teacher said kindly at pickup yesterday, and I wanted to say “um, a lesson plan would be good,” but I get the sense that I’m supposed to show up with one of those.

Then I got an email last night, saying my other son’s kindergarten class would love to have me also. Then this morning at dropoff, the kindergarten teacher told me that the other kindergarten would be there as well, and wasn’t that a great idea? That’s THIRTY-EIGHT CHILDREN in one room, which is such a bad idea, actually, that they have two kindergarten classes to keep the numbers under control- except for half an hour during Creativity Week, when they are someone else’s problem. 

I don’t think my kids’ teachers are going to LEAVE, necessarily. (God I hope not.) I do think they are putting way too much confidence in my abilities. I’ve worked some tough crowds- dads on Blackberries, moms who have downed a pitcher of margaritas each- but never forty five-year-olds who haven’t played outside very much lately. 

Sure, it can be done.  Little Bill’s dad spoke to his son’s class, and turned what Little Bill feared would be a yawn-fest about life as a housing inspector into a fascinating exploration of the three little pigs and their citations for structural infirmities. But if you watch Little Bill, you know that he basically has like three other kids in his whole kindergarten class, so clearly any similarities to real life stop right there. 

Panic leads to procrastination, so I don’t have much so far, but I’m thinking for the second graders, I’ll talk about how to make room for creativity in a life with way too much screen time, and then have them do a writing exercise or something. But the kindergarteners are harder: they can only “write” with one-on-one adult assistance, and we will be approximately thirty-four adults short. That means we will have to do “theater games,” which I give five minutes tops before they devolve into “let’s say ‘poopy'” games. Hack choice, but always hilarious. Then I’ll never get ’em back. 

Anyone care to give me some words of advice about speaking to their kids’ classes?