116 101 Activities for Teaching Creativity and Problem Solving
- Idea Shopping 
- Grab Bag Forced Association 
- Distribute the Tickler Things Handout and discuss it with the participants,
answering questions they might have.
- Gather an assortment of objects representing varied types of things. Examples
include pipe cleaners, clay, toy balls, plastic animals, light bulbs, books, radios,
candles, watches, telephones, bottles, cans, et cetera. All objects should be unrelat-
ed to the problem.
- Place at least six different objects on each table with small groups of participants.
- Distribute the handouts to each participant and review the example.
- Instruct each group to select an object unrelated to the problem, and ask if there
are any questions.
- Have them describe the object in some detail. Encourage them to include physical
characteristics as well as how people react to the object and use it. Remind them
that action descriptions are important, so they shouldn’t limit themselves to sin-
- Tell them to use their descriptions to stimulate ideas and assign someone to write
down each idea on a Post-it®Note and place it on a flip chart.
- Instruct them to repeat Steps 5 through 7 until they have generated at least twenty
ideas or run out of time.
One positive feature of this exercise is its use of tangible objects. Thus, it is well suited for
those with less ability to visualize and free-associate. The use of an actual object that can
be seen and touched makes it easier for some to relate to and play off of for stimulation. If
you want to lead a discussion, you could ask the groups to compare differences in using
unrelated words, pictures, or objects as idea triggers.
Also consider having participants debrief using the following questions:
- What was most helpful about this exercise?
- What was most challenging?
- What can we apply?
- How would you rate the value of this exercise to helping us with this issue?
- Will this exercise be helpful in the future for other sessions?
- What did you learn?
- What will we be able to use from this exercise?
- What ideas were generated, and which ones were most interesting?
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