Mini-C creativity and Me!

Oh my GOSH! I cannot believe how long it has been since I last posted. Teaching, writing, wigging out about my health, and training for a half marathon, have kept me really busy. But, the good news is, I am BACK! YAY!!! (Hope you are as happy about that as I am.)

A while back, I talked about mini-c creativity. Mini-c creativity is beginning creativity that is self-judged versus judged by others. If it’s novel, useful and meaningful to the person experiencing it, then it is valuable and creative.

I had a mini-c creativity moment today. It was fantabulous, if I do say so myself! When I realized it was mini-c creativity, I laughed out loud, and experienced a new-found appreciation for the insight of Kaufman and Beghetto!

My kindergarteners and I worked with clay today. I’ll post photos and talk about the process another time. For now, I just want to talk about the prep.

I had a list of things to do.

  1. Cut cardboard for the girls to use as a working board.
  2. Find the sponges and various other simple tools.
  3. Bring home some clay to make the slip. (Slip is the watered down clay that acts like glue, and is super fun for kindergarteners to use!)
  4. Buy some plastic to use as mats and make clean up easier.
  5. Buy a plastic container to use when making and storing the slip.
  6. Make the slip.

Unfortunately that list was in my head, not on a piece of paper.

When I got home at 8PM ready to make the slip, I realized I had failed to buy the container to use when making the slip. Eee GADS!!! I didn’t want to go back out, but I didn’t have a suitable container at home, but, did I mention, I didn’t want to go back out?!?!!? Ugh, what was I going to do?

I decided to take a deep breath, have a cup of tea, and sleep on it — hopeful that a solution would present itself in the morning

5:30AM rolled around, and sustained by another cup of tea, and some organic sprouted oatmeal, I began the search of my cabinets. “OH!!! A zip lock bag. That might be PERFECT! Easy mixing and no mess!!!” I dumped my clay in the bag, added some water, zipped it securely, and, just to be on the safe side, popped it all into another ziplock bag.

When I got to my classroom I began the smushing process. It was AWESOME!!! What had previously been a rather messy, mildly laborious job, was easy and completely mess free!!!! I highly recommend this method if you don’t have to make a ton of slip.


I was impressed with my own ingenuity, and was feeling quite creative. Then, I thought, “Hmmm, I’m bet ‘clay-experts’ have probably thought of this already. Or perhaps they just don’t wait until the last minute to prep. They might not be very impressed with my idea”

Then I remembered mini-c creativity. My understanding, my learning, my having a new idea, my CREATIVITY in the way I made the slip is fantastic and useful – for me – and therefore, regardless of the judgment of others it is super creative and valuable.

It was really important for me to experience this, because it gave me some insight into what my students may feel. When they have a new idea that is useful, novel and meaningful to them, I need to let them have that moment, and celebrate it with them. If I downplay their discovery, work or idea, I take some really valuable things from them. I, quite likely, rob them of:

  • joy
  • an experience of triumph or victory
  • a sense of competency
  • a willingness to try new ideas
  • a willingness to share these new ideas with others

Mini-c creativity is powerful. So is our response to it.



Beyond Big and Little: The Four C Model of Creativity – Kaufman and Beghetto, 2009,+Beghetto+-+2009+-+Beyond+big+and+little+The+four+c+model+of+creativity.pdf





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)