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Energize divergent thinking and 

bring a creative mindset to a problem

with these warm-ups! 



  • To express things that you see or feel in another language

       — expanding your visual literacy.

  • To practice risk-taking in what might be a new mode of thinking and doing.

  • To practice silencing your critical voice.


Choose media that are appealing to you “in the moment” – computer tablet, ink2go, crayons, markers, beautiful paper or old newspapers. Then put stylus or crayon or pencil or pen to screen or paper. And draw. Free your mind from any critical thought. Let your drawing implement move where it wants to go. If you feel ideas and thoughts forming, let them come and support them with your drawing. This is not about being an artist. This is about “exercising” an often little used part of your brain.



  • There is no right or wrong drawing.

  • Experiment freely with different media.

  • Do not hesitate to use different colours to stimulate your creativity.



  • To generate ideas.

  • To clarify ideas.

  • To loosen up thinking processes.

  • To blast through blocks.

  • To warm up for a thinking/designing session.



Free writing is a writing process that generates ideas and helps you practice silencing your critical voice and letting your creative voice speak.

Take a clean sheet of paper (or a blank computer screen), plunge in and start to write. If you do not know what to say, write that. Write whatever comes to your mind, whether it is on the subject or off it.

Keep writing for a minimum of ten minutes. Mark the spot where you want to stop, but keep on writing.

Where did you want to stop? When you wrote non-stop for ten minutes, did you find that a good idea appears just on the other side of that urge to quit?


  • If you hear your critical voice (that nagging voice that says you aren’t any good!) saying that what you are writing stinks, then write that down, but do not stop writing.

  • If your critical voice thinks you have chosen the wrong word, include that assessment also. Circle the word and keep writing.



  • Uses method of interviewing as an introduction tool for a workshop setting.

  • Helps record attendees at a workshop.

  • To record ideas and concerns at the beginning, and throughout a workshop.



Step 1: Find a partner you do not already know (groups of two).

Step 2: Interview your partner and write the information onto the baseball card (8½ x11 card stock). On the front of the card put your interviewees name and if you feel like it, do a quick portrait with your not-usual hand. Then write their past and current experiences (what they do and what they have done).

Step 3. On the back of your own card, list the weaknesses and strengths of the current project as you see it and experience it. You can also record opportunities and ideas here. This is useful to allow people to voice their concerns and ideas immediately.


  • Helpful to have people interview each other – increases clarity.

  • Need to be understood and help your interviewer understand.



A useful warm-up that toggles between the visual and the verbal  – and therefore

exercises the brain in these two different modes.  A good "ice-breaker"

because it is fun and non-threatening.  This warm-up hopefully stimulates some

different ways of thinking - -a bit reminiscent of the party game where you say something at one end of the chain and what comes out at the other end is totally different.  It helps participant realize the need to apply and use different kinds of skills and senses.  It allows some practice of creativity and inquiry as well as experiencing some uncertainty.


1. Write a phrase on the top of the page, and then pass it to the person to your right.

2. This person reads the phrase, folds it back, and in the next section illustrates it.

3. The paper is then passed to the next person.

4. The person looks at the drawing, folds it back, and writes a phrase of what they think the drawing represents.

5. The paper continues to be passed along and this until each player has had a turn.



A fun warm-up that can be done quickly and is fun.  It forces a "visualization"

of something that is or was important to us at one time.  It calls upon memory and experience. 



1.  Think about what you wanted to be when you were 12 years old.  An astronaut?  A prime minister?

A woman soccer star? An architect?

2.  Draw the 12 year old you or an “abstraction” of what that “you” was like — using plain paper and crayons.  



Place and experience provide context for decisions, actions, and questioning whether

to celebrate, ignore, or change our experiences. But to do any of these with informed intent, one must find their genius loci. Those who ignore a sense of place miss out on unique and profound opportunities to improve experiences, both collective and individual.



1. Reflect on your favorite or most memorable place or experience.

2. Draw it -- this can be abstract or representational.

3. In pairs share your story about this space of experience (5 min. each).

4. Group reflection about the value of knowing place and experience.

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