The A,B,C of the Expression Funnel

Updated: Sep 5, 2019


A. Apply the 5 E’s

Fill the funnel with information, direct the children to consolidate the ideas they drew on. Help them turn vast information into concise knowledge. This could be a well thought idea or a polished educational product. At the end of the tunnel, they will express it with light in their eyes.

  1. Explore - Ignite the children’s creative minds with interesting facts or an enriching book or video.

  2. Experience - Let the children play with the new information drawing, creatively writing, or experimenting.

  3. Examine - The children are starting to respond with insights and ideas, check them out together.

  4. Elevate - Direct the children’s thinking process to the next level.

The result:

5. Express - Sit back and enjoy when the students present their product or tell about the interesting thinking process they had. Your fascination is all they need.

B. Be a Mindful educator

  1. Children are very perceptive. If they say something and we respond with a raised eyebrow, they'll learn not to express again.

  2. A forced smile takes away children's trust. It's better to stay expressionless. Sometimes we feel we need to be energetic and smileful as the kids. We can't be festive like them. But it's good respond even with "aha" or "em", to let the children know we're listening.

  3. This is the difference between stifling creativity (a raised eyebrow) and fostering creative expression (acknowledging, letting the child know we're present and listening).

  4. The same is with our tone of voice. Children are sensitive to our moods. If we are stressed and it shows in our movement and voice, they will not talk with us. We need to learn how to take 3 deep breaths for control and tranquility before talking, if we want them to cooperate.

The Result:

5. Express – The children trust us, cooperate and express.

C. Cultivate a Creative Learning Environment

How was your day? How was today’s lesson? Answer question 1. On page…!

Kids usually respond with a blank face and an evasive answer. How do we invite them to elaborate?

  1. Immediately after an activity kids’ minds are packed with experiences to the point they don't remember anything. Start a conversation with talking about something that seems irrelevant. Children are associative, it’ll set their thinking process in a positive direction.

  2. Another option is to start by telling shortly about something from your point of view. Share to invite them to share, too.

  3. There are cases children are silent when you want a response. Maybe they just need a moment. Be patient. Go back to the child, when you feel they are ready. This is key, you need to feel them.

  4. “I don’t know”, I don’t have an idea”, and I don’t know what to say” are not in our vocabulary. Those expressions enter the mind to empty mode. Teach children to respond with: “I’m thinking about it”. It doesn’t stop the thinking process. It’s legitimate and meaningful. Any use of the verb “think” positively bears fruit.

The result:

5. Express – the children feel free to express

Last quick tip. Thinking goes together with movement and sound. That is why we come up with ideas in the shower, or taking a walk. If you want the children to respond, you’ll have to bear their slight agitation while they are thinking. They just need to move and sound a little. Don’t be intimidated by that.

Find a gimmick to get the kids’ attention back after they have been overwhelmed with ideas. When I worked in The Man and The Living World Museum, I had a bell ready in my pocket. I told the children in advance that if things get too loud, I’ll sound it. I also told them the bell’s story. It was a cow bell that I got as a present from my Dutch grandmother when I was a kid. I always shared how I kept the bell in one piece for 30 years, but my kids broke it apart. And I always brought the torn cord to show them. Maybe the bell always worked because they could relate to this story.

I hope you found this article useful.


To funnel expression is to engage, directing the dance empathetically. If you need materials for working with kids that way, check out creative thinking kids’ books on my blog!

You're most welcome to visit my Amazon author page for a quick view of my books, blogs and events!

Thank you for reading,

Michelle Korenfeld


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© 2017 by Michelle Korenfeld, Raising Creative Thinkers.