A Creative Tool to Teach Empathy and Perspective


When the world is divided against itself and suffering from hurt that we can’t fully comprehend, what tools can we give children to help them see beyond the madness? Perhaps, the most powerful concepts we can teach them are empathy and perspective.

Those who can empathize with others begin to see beyond their own perspectives into spaces of multiplicity and divergence. When we begin to acknowledge the diversity of others’ experiences, suddenly, we’re no longer the center of our own universe.

As adults, we can support children in empathizing with others by teaching them how to imagine the world from an other’s perspective. While there are numerous ways to teach and model empathy, children’s literature can create authentic and powerful opportunities for exploring different perspectives.

One of our favorite children’s books that demonstrates multiple perspectives is Anthony Browne’s, Voices in the Park. As an artist, Browne explains that he is drawn to children’s literature because he “likes the idea of showing that the world looks very different from inside someone else’s head.” In Voices in the Park, Browne uses words and images to portray the complexity of experiences during a day at one city park. The book uses multiple modes (words, images, story structure) to tell the story of a trip to the park, and in doing so, it becomes a collection of voices that are woven together into a plural narrative. 

After researching the story a bit deeper, we discovered that Voices in the Park is actually the result of Browne’s revisiting of a story he wrote years ago called A Walk in the Park. Although Browne liked the original story, he always felt the illustrations looked “rushed and clumsy.” This led him to re-imagine the illustrations years after the original publication and he surprised himself when the characters evolved into depictions of his signature gorillas. He explains that while he can’t explain exactly how or why he revised the story, he believes that “it does show that quite often the best decisions I make have more to do with instinct than intellect.”

While Voices in the Park is a creative representation of multiple perspectives in and of itself, the story behind the story adds another layer of meaning. This additional layer draws our attention to the cyclical nature of empathy and perspective-taking. Neither concept is static and when we take time to revisit our understandings, we are surprised with new and different ideas. Maybe it’s time that we all revisit the stories of our past and re-imagine what they mean to us today.

10 Picture Books That Demonstrate Creative & Innovative Thinking


Picture books combine both visual and written mediums to create texts that bring stories to life for children and adults alike. When we reminisce about childhood, we’re bound to remember the experiences surrounding at least one particular picture book: the person who read it with us, the feelings it evoked, or how it piqued our imaginations.

As we seek to cultivate children’s creative lives, picture books are a simple–but powerful–way to model how they can innovate and think creatively. Here are 10 of our favorite books that demonstrate creative and innovative thinking:

1. Not A Box by Antoinette Portis

Have you seen a child build a cardboard fort? If not, you’re missing out! In this whimsical picture book, Antoinette Portis shows readers that a cardboard cube is anything but a box.

2. Round Trip by Ann Jonas

Typical early childhood reading skills include understanding how to hold a book with the correct orientation, and reading the book from front to back. In Round Trip, author-illustrator Ann Jonas, surprises readers with a story that can be read from top-to-bottom and front-to-back, but when it’s flipped upside down, the story continues through words and images that reflect into a new plot.

3. Bad Day At Riverbend by Chris Van Allsburg

What happens when a story incorporates a secret threat from outside the pages of its book? You get an amazing story with rogue crayons attacking the characters. In this often overlooked picture book, author-illustrator Chris Van Allsburg demonstrates some of his most creative thinking as he re-imagines how a reader can affect a story’s plot.

4. The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds

There’s nothing more frustrating for a child than feeling like they can’t draw. But, when a teacher intervenes to show them the genius of their “dot,” a child’s despair is transformed into a creative drive that leads to a gallery of work. Who says it’s just a dot?

5. Press Here by Herve Tullet

When toddlers can unlock a smart phone and understand the power behind the tap of their finger, what’s so cool about a picture book? Author-illustrator, Herve Tullet shows children that the pages of a book can be just as responsive as a mobile app.

6. Duck Rabbit by Amy Rosenthal and Tom Lichtenheld

There’s nothing like a good ole’ optical illusion to get your brain ticking. Don’t let the simple text and images fool you! This book gets a room full of children asking: is it a duck or a rabbit? Well, it depends on how you look at it…

7. Big Frog Can’t Fit In by Mo Willems

Who says a picture has to be stuck on a page? Not Mo Willems. In this whimsical “pop-out” book, poor Big Frog just won’t fit! Based on this hilarious story, it looks like it might be time to make a bigger book.

8. Beautiful Oops by Barney Saltzberg

Every artist understands the frustration of making a mistake–too much shadow, the wrong shade of green for that leaf, or a splatter of paint in the middle of that white cloud. Barney Saltzberg shows readers that the most frustrating mistakes can be transformed into our most creative work.

9. What Do You Do With An Idea? by Kobi Yamada and Mae Besom

When you’re trying to explain how an idea comes to life, there’s nothing handier than a metaphor. In this delightful picturebook, the author and illustrator work together to create a visual metaphor that shows children how their ideas are like an egg that needs to be  protected, nurtured, and given the time to grow before it can hatch.

10. The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires

Every creator and innovator knows that their process is magnificent, but painful. Things don’t always go according to plan, the ideas in our heads don’t come out the way we imagine them to be, and sometimes, our ideas just don’t work. In The Most Magnificent Thing, children can see that even though the process can be frustrating, when we step back and relax, we can see our work with a fresh eye and sometimes, we find the perfect solution!

10 Ways to get Kids to Think Creatively


When working with children, we’re often challenged to promote creative thinking. Our challenge is not to “teach” children to think creatively, but to encourage and support them as they engage in authentic creative learning experiences. Too often, adults are faced with standards, expectations, and programs that run counter to the practices of creative and innovative thinking.

Rather than outlining a scripted formula for getting kids to think creatively, we’d like to offer 10 suggestions that are specific enough to be actionable, but open enough to be catalysts into further exploration and practice.

1. Set the stage

Creativity thrives in open and inspiring environments. While these environments might look differently for individual children, creative learning environments are flexible with space and time, and reflect the shared values of inquiry and experimentation.

For more on creative learning environments, click HERE.

2. Lead with questions or problems

Creativity is sparked by questions or interesting problems. As adults, we can encourage children to think creatively when we position a topic or unit of study as a series of inquiry-based questions or problem-based scenarios that allow students to explore various solutions. 

3. Provide multiple materials

An easy way to promote creative thinking is to provide an array of materials for children to use in their work. When paper and pencil are just one of many options to express and explore ideas, children are primed with the tools they need to think and represent their thoughts in alternative ways.

4. Encourage independent AND collaborative thinking

Sometimes it’s assumed that collaborative learning is the best way to get kids to think creatively. While it is true that creativity thrives in social experiences and dialogue, it is also important to provide children with time to explore questions and problems independently as well.

5. Focus on the “HOW”

When we are faced with multiple standards and specific information that must be taught, we tend to focus on the “what” in learning. What standards did we cover? What did the children learn? What did they produce? If we want children to think creatively, we must shift our focus to address the “HOW” in their learning. Instead, we should be asking children: How did you solve this problem? How did you answer that question? How did you create this solution? 

6. Carve out time

Creativity takes time. A schedule that is compartmentalized and dominated by quantity rather than quality is not conducive for creative thinking. Children need extended periods of time to go deep in their creative thinking, therefore our schedules must demonstrate that we value this time.

7. Celebrate mistakes

Sometimes our best ideas are products of our mistakes. When children are encouraged and allowed to make mistakes, they have opportunities to learn what works and what doesn’t, and this process nudges them toward new ideas and better solutions.

For more on the importance of making mistakes in the learning process, click HERE.

8. Listen, listen, listen

Since creative thinking does thrive in collaborative environments, children must be taught how to listen to their peers. The most effective way for adults to teach active listening skills is to model these skills. When children see us listening and describing how we listen to others, they are learning how put these skills into practice.

For some simple strategies that teach children listening skills, click HERE.

9. Talk, talk, talk

Creativity flourishes in social situations where children can exchange ideas, ask questions, and explain their thought processes. As adults, we can model and encourage the types of dialogue that creative thinkers use in their work.

10. Share, share, share

When creatives share ideas, materials, experiences, and responsibilities, doors are opened into new possibilities and different ways of thinking. Children should have opportunities to engage in the creative process with their peers and to share and receive feedback on their work. This process should be reflective, offering opportunities for children to “think about their own thinking.”

For specific ways to support children as they share and reflect on their creative processes, click HERE.

Three Resources for Combating Fear in the Creative Process



This Halloween, we’re reminded that ghosts and ghouls aren’t the only things that frighten. As creatives, our process is embedded with fears that can either destroy or empower us.

Fear of failure is a battle every creator and innovator must face. This fear might be avoided in the short term, but eventually, every artist must slay their inner demons that cast doubts, inhibitions, and anxiety. Here are three resources that will fuel your creative fire and empower you to face your fears:


BOOK: The War of Art


Surely you’ve ready this classic creative manifesto, but if not, you must put Steven Pressfield’s “The War of Art” at the top of your list. Pressfield demonstrates the power of naming your fears and describes a creative’s fear as “resistance.” It’s resistance that comes between the creative and her work, and it’s resistance that we must come to grips with in order to experience creative freedom.


TALK: How To Overcome The Fear of Failure

In an interview with 30 Days of Genius, creative entrepreneur Seth Godin, discusses the difficulty we all face as we attempt to extract the genius that we all carry within. Godin explains that we “have to dance with the fear” because fear is an essential part of the creative process. In just three minutes, this video is bound to inspire you to dance along with the rhythms of your fears.


APP: CreativeLive

Sometimes, the best way to keep our creative fears at bay is to stay inspired. The logic is simple: feed your creativity, starve your fears. If you’re looking for a daily dose of creative inspiration, check out the new app by CreativeLive. Launched in 2010 as a web-based, CreativeLive is a worldwide creative education platform that connects more than 10 million students with more than 2 billion minutes of video. CreativeLive’s video library consists of content gathered from leading experts in industries such as photography, video, design, music, craft and entrepreneurship. Their latest mobile app allows users to access this content on their mobile devices and it offers one free class per day from any course offered on the platform. Check it out HERE.



3 Questions To Evaluate Creative Learning Strategies


As we increasingly recognize creativity as a valuable asset to the global economy, we will continue to see an emphasis on creative teaching and thinking strategies in schools and in the workplace. But, how do we evaluate these strategies to determine which best promote creative learning?

There are no clear cut ways to measure the value of creative learning strategies, but there are questions that we can ask in order to make judgements about their value for children.

When evaluating creative thinking or learning activities, strategies, and programs, it is useful to consider the following questions:

Does this activity, strategy, or program allow for divergent thinking?

The concept of divergent thinking was defined by psychologist J.P. Guilford and refers to the process of generating multiple outcomes, solutions, or possibilities for a given topic or problem. Creativity thrives in thought processes that allow for multiple possibilities and ideas. Can you identify opportunities for divergent thinking?

Does this activity, strategy, or program encourage children to consider different combinations of existing concepts and ideas?

Creativity is also practiced when individuals consider the possibilities of combining existing concepts and ideas in new and different ways. Artist and creativity expert, Austin Kleon,  compares creative thinking to mathematical permutations. What does the concept of combinatorial thinking (or remix) mean in today’s creative economy? In a presentation called, Networked Knowledge and Combinatorial Creativity, Maria Popova explains, “[creative] work builds on what came before. Every new idea is just a remix or a mashup of two previous ideas.” Can you identify opportunities for combining existing concepts and ideas in new and different ways?

Does this activity, strategy, or program allow for experimentation and failure?

Creativity is often judged by the end product, not the process. Perhaps this is because the creative process can be messy, difficult to capture, and littered with mistakes. But, we all understand that our mistakes can drive the creative process by showing us what doesn’t work and directing us toward better solutions. Our mishaps can also surprise us with possibilities we would have never considered. Can you identify opportunities that allow for experimentation and value the possibilities in failure? 


Funding your dreams: Scholarships, Loans, and Financial Information


When considering an advanced degree, we all ask the same questions: how much will it cost and how will I pay for it?

There are numerous opportunities for scholarships, aid, and other forms of financial assistance, but figuring out what applies to you is half the battle. To help you begin your search, we have compiled a list of helpful links for information about the ways Georgia State University can support you through our office of Student Financial Services.

  • Before you search for aid, scholarships, or loan opportunities, it’s important to know how much your degree will cost. Use this COST CALCULATOR to estimate the total cost for completing a Masters Degree at Georgia State.
  • When applying for a graduate degree, make sure you search for scholarships that are designated for graduate students. To simplify this process, you may want to attend a workshop through the Student Financial Services office.
  • For a direct link to a list of scholarships specific to graduate students, click HERE.
  • When you have been officially accepted to a Georgia State Graduate Program, you will have access to a scholarship data base that allows you to search internal and external scholarships that apply to your degree program. Click HERE to access the scholarship database.
  • If you work in K-12 education, you may be eligible for scholarships specific to public-school educators. For more information about opportunities available to educators, check out the scholarships and fellowships through the College of Education and Human Development.
  • Georgia State University now offers a payment plan that allow you to defer payment for up to 50% of the current term’s tuition and mandatory fees OR 50% of their account balance, whichever is less. For more information about this payment plan, click HERE.
  • There may be study abroad opportunities that can apply to your interests. If so, there are funding possibilities through the university. To learn more about study abroad scholarships, click HERE.

As always, we are here to help answer your questions about The Master of Arts in Creative & Innovative Education. If you have specific questions about scholarships and financial aid that are not addressed through these links, your questions will be best answered through the Office of Student Financial Services. Click HERE for their contact information.

Your questions answered: Our program at-a-glance

If you haven’t been able to join us for an in-person informational session, you probably have lots of questions about The Master of Arts in Creative & Innovative Education program. You might be wondering:

  • What can I do with this degree?
  • Who is the ideal candidate?
  • How many semesters does it take to complete the program?
  • What kind of courses will I take?
  • How do I apply?
  • Are there opportunities for financial assistance?

Check out our SlideShare presentation to find answers to these and other questions about the MACIE program. Inside the presentation you’ll find a video, program information, and important web links.

MACIE Aims to Close the Creative Divide One Child at a Time

Our mission is to cultivate children’s creative and innovative thinking and we are looking for individuals who want to join us on this journey. Are you passionate about children, creativity, and innovation? Do you want to work with children in challenging and unique ways? If so, we’d like to invite you to learn more about The Master of Arts in Creative & Innovative Education.

In the latest episode of GSU’s Urban Education podcast, our program director, Dr. Laura Meyers, discusses the design and purpose for the MACIE program. If you have questions about what you’ll learn through our program, the job opportunities this degree will support, or how to apply, check out this discussion. Also, don’t forget to join us for FREE coffee during one of our “Coffee Talk” sessions this week (find the times, dates, and locations HERE).

Want to learn more about MACIE?

We know you have lots of questions about graduate school: Is this program for me? How do I register? When do I register? If you’re interested in cultivating children’s creative and innovative thinking, come talk with us and let us answer your questions.

Check out our upcoming informational sessions, both on and off campus:



The Arts Participation Divide


The Washington Post recently published an article indicating a “Great Creative Divide” in the United States: people living in the Southern portion of the country were less likely to be involved in the arts than those living in the Northern portion. While we see creativity as encompassing much more than just the arts, it’s interesting to dig a little deeper into the data behind the WAPO article to get a snapshot of Georgians’ arts participation. Although the data doesn’t present a complete picture, it can point us in new directions as we consider children’s creative lives—or perhaps recommit us to paths we are already on.

Here are the numbers for Georgia:

* Percent of U.S. Adults Who Attend Visual or Performing Arts Events or Go to the Movies by State in 2015

  • Georgia: 57.6% (statistically less than U.S. average)

* Percent of U.S. Adults Who Attend Live Music, Theater, or Dance Performances by State in 2015

  • Georgia: 20.8% (statistically less than U.S. average)

* Percent of U.S Adults Who Attend Art Exhibits by State in 2015

  • Georgia: 9.5% (statistically less than U.S. average)

* Percent of U.S. Adults Who Go to Movies by State in 2015

  • Georgia: 53.3% (not statistically different from U.S. average)

* Percent of U.S. Adults Who Visit Buildings, Neighborhoods, Parks, and Other Sites for Their Historic or Design Value by States in 2015

  • Georgia: 20.3% (statistically less than U.S. average)

* Percent of U.S. Adults Who Read Literature (Poetry, Plays, Short Stories, or Novels) by State in 2015

  • Georgia: 36.8% (not statistically different from U.S. average)

* Percent of U.S. Adults Who Personally Perform of Create Artworks by State in 2014

  • Georgia: 34.2% (statistically less than U.S. average)

* Percent of U.S Adults Who Use TV, Radio, and /or Internet to Consume Art or Arts Programming by State in 2012

  • Georgia: 50% (statistically less than U.S. average)

Why are there variations in arts participation across states? The answer, of course, isn’t simple, but the National Endowment for the Arts, which published the data, links participation in the arts to education and poverty, as well as availability and access to arts organizations. The NEA also draws “strong association” between adults’ likelihood of attending arts events and their experiences with the arts as children. “Adults who visited an art museum as a child were 4.8 times more likely to visit an art museum or gallery as an adult,” the report states.

While creativity isn’t limited to the arts, the arts certainly are crucial components of a creative and innovative education. Perhaps the first step in providing children with more experiences with creativity in general and the arts in particular is to work together as adults to begin that cultivation.