122 101 Activities for Teaching Creativity and Problem Solving
101 Activities for Teaching Creativity and Problem Solving.Copyright © 2005 by John Wiley &
Sons, Inc. Reproduced by permission of Pfeiffer, an Imprint of Wiley. http://www.pfeiffer.com
Suppose you are an organization that wants to generate ways to increase the amount of
money it donates to community service projects. This problem involves a combination of
the words “increase” and “money.” For most people, this particular combination would
simply mean: “get more money.” Pretty simple. But it doesn’t help us think of many
What if we now substitute a synonym for the word “increase”? We look in a hard-
bound or computer software thesaurus and look at several choices: advance, boost, jump,
raise, hike, magnify, and snowball. Then we experiment with different combinations of
these words with the word “money.” Thus, we can generate combinations such as
“boost/money,” “jump/money,” “hike/money,” and “magnify/money.”
If we can substitute synonyms for one of the words, then we also can substitute for
the other. In this case, a thesaurus provides such substitutes for the word “money” as
cash, currency, greenbacks, dough, wampum, and income. Next, we combine the word
“increase” with these words and get such combinations as “increase/greenbacks” and
All these combinations can stimulate ideas. For instance, we could have employees
volunteer their time to help with automobile emergencies and solicit donations from
those they help (from “boost/money”). Or we could ask artistic employees to design and
sell jewelry to raise funds (from “increase/wampum”). You get the idea.
But wait. There’s more. We don’t have to be limited to the words “increase” or
“money” in combinations. We also could use any of the other synonyms on the lists. For
Increase Money Advance Cash
Boost Currency Jump Greenbacks
Hike Dough Magnify Wampum
To generate ideas on how to increase money, we select words randomly from each
column, combine them, and use the new meaning to spark ideas. That’s all there is to it.
Here are some sample ideas:
- Sponsor a walk or run where participants contribute $5 for each mile they travel
- Use payroll deductions for contributions (from “advance/income”).
- Sponsor a carnival with shell games. People bet on the outcome. The proceeds go to
charity (from “jump/currency”).
- Give donors T-shirts with modified pictures of the denominations they contributed
- Sell snow cones and doughnuts (from “snowball/dough”).
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