Susan Riley | April 2017

1×5 Strategy for Creative Thinking

Have you ever asked a question in your classroom only to be met by blank stares?  Or maybe, you’ve asked the question and everyone starts sharing all their ideas, all the time.  In either of those scenarios, the 1×5 strategy is a perfect fit.


The 1×5 strategy is a creative thinking strategy that provides 1 object or idea and has students alter it 1 time for 5 rotations.  So, you could move students into groups of 5 and provide each group with an object or an idea.  Each person in the group must add or change one thing about the object or idea.  You rotate until each person in the group has had a turn.


You can use this strategy in a variety of ways.  I’ve found it to be very effective as a warm-up or as a way to get traditionally quiet students an opportunity to add their thoughts and opinions to a project.  I’ve also found that it’s helpful for clarifying and narrowing a big idea into a more refined, cohesive thought.

You can use this for:

  • Prototyping a design
  • Project how-to’s
  • Idea brainstorming
  • Creating a musical, dance, or visual art composition
  • Reworking a piece of writing
  • Exploring math problem variations
  • Considering an alternate ending to historical events (what would have happened if…)


There are so many options that light up when you use this strategy.  To make it even easier, use the above a downloadable strategy card in your next lesson!

About the Author

Susan Riley is the founder and CEO of The Institute for Arts Integration and STEAM. She focuses on teacher professional development in arts integration, STEAM, 21st century learning skills, and technology. She is also a published author and frequent presenter at national conferences on Arts Integration and STEAM education. Susan holds a Bachelor of Music degree in Music Education from the prestigious Westminster Choir College in Princeton, NJ and a Master of Science in Education Administration from McDaniel College in Westminster, MD. She lives in Westminster, MD with her husband and daughter. Email Susan