Creative Classrooms to Inspire Students - Action for Healthy Kids
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Creative Classrooms to Inspire Students

We’ve said it before (and we’ll say it a million times more): Kids whose bodies and minds are active learn better and perform better in school. Study after study shows that movement activates the parts of the brain that help with several different cognitive functions.

While classroom fitness breaks and active games play a huge role in creating healthier learning environments, it doesn’t always have to be so literal. Activity generated during unstructured play time—or play time during lessons—is equally beneficial to students, especially for creativity, focus, and behavior. So how do you set up a creative classroom that inspires…well…inspiration?

Try the “Caves, Campfires, and Watering Holes” technique, where caves are spaces for individual thinking and reflection, campfires are spaces to learn and hear stories from an expert, and watering holes are an informal gathering spot for peers to share, interact, and discover.


Caves should be separate from the general learning area. Ways to set up this space include:

  • Putting positive messages on the wall
  • Providing stress balls (which you can DIY with kids)
  • Incorporating “thinking putty” or play-dough
  • Making a “calm down jar” for reflection amidst chaos (read more here)
  • Including supplies for drawing, reading, and other solo activities
  • Setting out a yoga mat and meditation pillow


Campfires utilize the general learning space, which should include items that help students focus as they listen. Some ideas are:

  • DIY “fidget sticks” (See how to make them here.)
  • Cups of pipe cleaners, which can be braided, twisted, shaped, etc.
  • “Thinking putty” and play-dough
  • Other tactile (but not distracting) toys or devices

Watering Holes

Watering holes can be anywhere in the classroom, as long as the seating is arranged to foster communication and collaboration. Outfit the space with:

  • Large poster paper and markers
  • A dress-up/costume box with funky clothes and accessories
  • Board games
  • A fishbowl filled with discussion prompts or teamwork activites on slips of paper
  • Crafty items for STEM projects/experiments (e.g. popsicle sticks, string, cups, cotton balls, food coloring, sugar, etc.)

Creative classrooms encourage everything from movement to mindfulness, cooperation to ingenuity. If you’d like to build them in your school but don’t have the resources, ask the community (including families) to donate household items, especially things they are no longer using. You can also find out if your school would host a healthy fundraiser to help get funds needed to purchase supplies. And school grants (including ours) may be helpful for purchasing larger items, like yoga mats and seating.

Anyone from educators to parents can lay the foundation for a creative classroom, so get started building yours today.