Developing Creativity and Imagination


This course offers a hands-on approach to exploring creativity and the imagination, working particularly with visual shapes and forms rather than with the written word. This is an interactive experience, and Dan Mack has created a landscape of activities and inspirations. The students choose which ones to follow, develop, and share with others in the course. As they get to know their imagination better, they come to recognize the others in their clan: the poets, writers, artists, or sculptors who have made their ways through the same terrain. Much of the activity in the course is nature-based: wandering, seeing, collecting, and assembling objects from natural materials. An essential benefit of this course is empowering children through encouraging their manipulation of visual forms to gain expressive freedom. It will prove liberating and perhaps even life-changing for children who are burdened with dyslexia and dysgraphia.

There are several unusual features of this course. The emphasis is off language and linear learning. This is an exploration largely in nonverbal learning through images, objects, and time in nature. We pay attention to these experiences and learn to hear what they are telling us. There is no one sequence through the course topics. It's more like a bath: you just get in. It is play-based. Play is holistic learning. It is a version of a popular theory of Nature Play: Loose Parts. Just put interesting stuff around, and children (and most other people) will figure out what to do with them.


Dan Mack

Class Details

Live Class: Yes

Frequency: Twice-weekly check-ins: live, by email, and on Pinterest (10 boards)

Duration: 6 weeks, second session

Student Expectations:
Students are expected to conduct self-initiated work between class sessions.

Student Support:
Teacher is available via email.

Feedback will be provided in the live sessions and will be given individually by the instructor.

Students will need a computer, internet access, a Pinterest account, and a digital camera (smartphone camera is acceptable). Most of the supplies for the course will be objects and items that the students find on their own. What they need is an alertness to what is around them, rather than an awareness of what they do not have.

The course relies heavily on the use of Pinterest, so students should have a Pinterest account and be familiar with it.

For Ages:

Creative Alertness Practices:
Record your experiences in these seven areas:

  • Nature—What animals, birds, bugs? What weather? What stones, sticks, bones, feathers? Visit nearby nature places.
  • Magic—via accident, digression, coincidence, dreams
  • Joy, Wonder, Awe—When do you feel these?
  • Try Intuitive Mark Making—with feathers, spills, stains, pounded pigments
  • Try Intuitive Object Making—wrapping, stacking, whittling
  • Try Intuitive Sound Making—with drums, whistling, grunting, scat talking, singing
  • Consider Other Ways—Explore list of “seedling” ideas and projects.
In the last three weeks, we add these three activities:
  • Your Clan—Find people who share your sensibilities.
  • Try Random and Surprise Art
  • Try Gifting and Tending