New Ways to Do the Old – Bay Area Discovery Museum

New Ways to Do the Old

Come up with new ways to do common everyday activities! Sometimes we lose track of how routine our activities can become, and making an effort to do such things differently can make us more aware of what we take for granted.

Materials Required

  • Paper
  • Something to write with


1. As a group, make a list of ordinary activities that people do every day. Here are some suggestions:

  • Put on a coat
  • Walk across a room
  • Brush your teeth
  • Go to school
  • Greet people on the phone
  • Sleep
  • Sneeze
  • Hop
  • Say “I love you”
  • Tell a story
  • Eat Chinese food
  • Capture a butterfly

2. Taking turns, have each person select an activity from the list.

3. Describe or act out at least five different ways to accomplish what the activity is meant to do. You can ask, "What are at least five ways to [insert your activity]."

4. Take turns until each person has gone.

Additional Tips

Try these add-on activities:

  • Make a list of things based on a theme, such as things you do at school or things to do at the pool.
  • Vote on which new ideas were the most original and useful.
  • Draw a new invention or sketch an idea for a new business that puts into use an original and useful idea.

Links to Creativity

There are many activities that we do every day where it seems like we’re on autopilot. Walks to school or to work, getting dressed and many other things become “as usual.” What happens when we find alternative paths for our walks or alternative uses for things we use every day? Well, this type of exercise is precisely what creativity researchers look at during divergent thinking tasks, or what some may call brainstorming. In fact, one type of divergent thinking task is called “unusual uses,” which asks a person to list as many unusual uses as possible for a common item (for example, a toothbrush). So, when children do this activity, they are participating in a very specific part of the creative process!

Supporting research includes:

Guilford, J. P. (1956). The structure of intellect. Psychological Bulletin53(4), 267-293.

Langer, E. J. (1989). Minding matters: The consequences of mindlessness–mindfulness. Advances in Experimental Social Psychology22, 137-173.

Runco, M. A. (2008). Commentary: Divergent thinking is not synonymous with creativity. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, 2, 93-96.


This activity was contributed by the Center for Childhood Creativity ©2014. It has been adapted with permission from Bruce E. Honig’s In The Pursuit of the Aha! ©2005. For more information and resources see or

New Ways to Do the Old

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