How Are These Two Things Related? – Bay Area Discovery Museum

How Are These Two Things Related?

Search for commonalities between dissimilar words. The creative process is often based on an ability to make associations between ideas or things that appear distant. This activity helps children learn to discover surprising and unexpected connections, while practicing flexible thinking.

Materials Required

  • Paper
  • Pen or pencil (something to write with)


  1. Pick one word from List 1 and one word from List 2.
  2. Write down three ways that these two things are similar. For example, how is a cat similar to an iceberg? Both can be white, can be hard to touch (the cat might run away and the iceberg might be cold or slippery), and can float in water.
  3. Make a star next to the one that is the truest, most original or unusual.
List 1 List 2
Elephant Cactus
Tree Sandwich
Telephone Iceberg
Fancy dress Canoe
Motorcycle Flashlight
Opera music Restaurant
Sandpaper Chair
Sun Paintbrush
Cat Saxophone

Additional Tips

Try these add-on activities:

  • Make a new list of items—include eight items in list 1 and eight items in list 2. Do the activity with these new words.
  • Do the activity in pairs with a larger group. Begin by
having each person list three of his or her favorite things. Then pair up and find a true but unexpected connection between one item from each person’s list.

Links to Creativity

It’s pretty easy to see how a boot and a shoelace are related. Seeking out how a boot and a watermelon are related is another story, and it is a creative one. The creative process is often based on an ability to make associations between ideas or things that may not seem related at first. When we spend time searching for similarities, or even the differences between two things, we are making creative associations. Sometimes, when we look to see how two things are related, we discover it through an “aha!” moment from what is called insight. This activity provides a chance to do just that—discover something that makes you say aha!

Supporting research includes:

Gruber, H. E. (1981). On the relation between “aha” experiences and the construction of ideas. History of Science, 19, 41-59.

Jung-Beeman, M., Bowden, E. M., Haberman, J., Frymiare, J. L., Arambel-Liu, S., et al. (2004). Neural activity when people solve verbal problems with insight. PLoS Biology, 2(4), e97.

Mednick, S. (1962). The associative basis of the creative process. Psychological Review, 69(3), 220- 232.


This activity was contributed by the Center for Childhood Creativity at the Bay Area Discovery Museum. For more information and resources see

©2014 Bay Area Discovery Museum.

How Are These Two Things Related?

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