For young students, having the opportunity to explore learning in new and creative ways is critical to their growth and success inside and outside your classroom. When early learners use their imagination to approach new subjects or review familiar topics, they’ll not only be more engaged, they’ll begin tapping their creative sides in other areas of learning and life, too. These three books and activities are a great way to feed your students’ imaginations and inspire even more creativity in your classroom.

Plus, encourage kindness and compassion in your classroom with these three books and activities.

Creatrilogy Series + Make Your Mark-ish Self-Portraits
There’s no better way to inspire creativity in your elementary classroom than by reading Peter Reynolds’ kid-favorite trilogy of titles—Ish, The Dot, and Sky Color—to your early learners. With witty and whimsical storylines and free-spirited illustrations, these books will open the doors of imagination and artistry for your students. And once they meet the series’ three main characters, they’ll be ready to make their own marks in the world, too!

After reading, invite students to make their own mark-ish by creating a self-portrait. Drawing from the lessons learned from Ramon, Vashti, and Marisol, encourage your early learners to use just a blank sheet of paper, a few crayons, and single dot to craft a creative and imaginative personal representation of free-spirited self-discovery.

Maybe a Bear Ate It! + Lost and Found Possibilities Comic Strip
“It’s gone! It’s nowhere! I can’t find it anywhere!” What child can’t relate to losing something very special to them? In this silly and imaginative tale, your students will tag along on a frantic and frenzied search for a beloved book that a bear possibly ate or a stegosaurus may have stomped on. While the prized book is ultimately found in the end—in the most obvious of places, of course—imaginations must first run wild and free!

After reading, encourage students to recall a time when they lost something special to them and reflect on what went through their minds before they recovered it. Next, invite your young artists to create their own comic strip depicting an adventure story of personal loss and discovery.

Tar Beach + Dreams Come True Bulletin Board
Tar Beach is the perfect story to fuel your young learners’ creativity and imagination! While reading this award-winning book about a high-flying dream come true, your students will fall in love with its beautiful illustrations and discover just how important they are in telling such a poignant story.

To get your students’ creative impulses and juices flowing even more, bring them together to come up with a dream for the whole class that they can illustrate on a classroom bulletin board. With a few ready-made accents and by tapping their collective creativity, your students will work together to tell a beautiful story about a shared dream, helping it come true!

By incorporating visual arts and creative activities into your lessons, your students will fall even deeper in love with learning! For more books to inspire creativity in the classroom, check out these 25 teacher-approved picture books

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