Mini-c creativity in the classroom

Creativity takes many forms in the classroom. You just have to be open to it!

At its core, creativity is the ability to generate unique and original ideas or things. Children are naturally creative. However, since they do not fully understand any particular content area, their creative thoughts and actions are sometimes overlooked, or simply acknowledged with the comment, “Oh, isn’t that cute!”

According to Beghetto and Kaufman’s “4-C model of creativity” there are four levels of creativity: Big-C , pro-c, little-c and mini-c creativity. Big-c creativity is associated with the extraordinarily gifted — celebrated artists or poets who develop a new genre, scientists who discover cures for previously incurable diseases, or musicians who change the world of music. Pro-c creativity is creativity exhibited in a creative profession — a head chef who creates a menu of new recipes. Little-c creativity is day to day creativity — a song created to encourage children to clean their rooms, or an original student-developed project to demonstrate their knowledge, understanding or subject skills. Big-C, pro-c, and little-c creativity rely on external judgements regarding their value.

Mini-c creativity refers to the new and useful awareness and interpretations involved in learning as new information is filtered through pre-existing understanding and experiences. While engaged in mini-c creativity, learners actively and creatively construct their own knowledge set. Unlike other levels of creativity, mini-c creativity is personally meaningful and does not rely on external judgement.

princess heart

“This is for you, Miss James!” ( My student watched with obvious excitement as I opened the folded piece of paper.)

“It is Princess Heart, Miss James. She is pink and blue, and her favorite color is purple!” She paused, looked at me and then said it again, with quiet glee. “She’s pink and blue, and her favorite color is purple.” Another pause. “Get it? She’s pink and blue, and her favorite color is purple.” (Wink, nod, smile.)

I get it, and I love the creativity and learning it expresses.


For further reading …

  • Toward a Broader Conception of Creativity: A Case for “mini-c” Creativity by Ron Beghetto and James Kaufman (2007)
  • Beyond Big and Little: The Four C Model of Creativity by Ron Beghetto and James Kaufman (2009)
  • Fundamentals of Creativity by Ron Beghetto and James Kaufman (2013)