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May 15, 2012

Questioning Creativity with SCAMPER

Written By: Brandi Jordan
X Questioning Creativity with SCAMPER

Questioning Creativity with SCAMPER

by Barbara Gruener, Guest Columnist

The creative brainstorming technique SCAMPER, created by education administrator and author Robert Eberle in the early 1970s, is based on the thought that every new idea is simply an adaptation of something else. Have you used it with your little learners?  I’ve seen our GT classes learn how to use it by using the formula with Oreo Cookies.

How to Use SCAMPER

S = Substitute – If I wanted to make the product different, what ingredient could I substitute to make it better?  What has changed about Oreos?  Vanilla-flavored wafers are now used to make Golden Oreos.

C = Combine – What will happen if I combine this product with another?  What ingredients might enhance the taste or texture of this cookie?  Beat crushed Oreos with Cream Cheese and dip in white chocolate to make Oreo Truffles!

A = Adapt – How can I adapt this product? What else could I put the cookies into?  How can I alter the Oreos to make them equally (or more) desirable? Crushed Oreos make a yummy ice cream topping.

M = Modify (minimize or maximize) – Could Oreos be bigger, smaller, stronger? What would intensify the taste? How has Nabisco changed the shape or look? Enter Mini-Oreos and Mint Oreos.

P = Put To Other Uses – Can I use this product in some other way? Is there a use for it at school? On certain holidays?  Twist them open and use the frosting to show the phases of the moon or transform them into a witch’s hat at Halloween.

E = Eliminate – What would happen if I took part of this product away?  What is essential, what isn’t?  Chocolate wafers anyone?

R = Rearrange (reverse) – How could I reorganize this product? What would the opposite look like? Inside-out Oreos!


Now, how could we apply SCAMPER to creatively problem-solve a challenge, manage a behavior, resolve an issue, or create a change in our classrooms?

S:  How could we use a substitute behavior to help my student be more successful?

C:  What traits could my student combine to help create success?

A:  What self-regulating strategy could my student adapt to maximize success?

M:  What could I help my student modify or change to solve this problem?

P:  How can my student put her strengths to use to help her improve?

E:  What behavior could my student eliminate to get his desired result?

R:  What can we rearrange for my student so that she gets what she needs?

How might you use SCAMPER to spark creativity in an upcoming unit or with your next challenge?


About the Author

Barbara Gruener

A bilingual educator who was raised on her family’s farm in Wisconsin, Barbara Gruener has been the counselor and character coach at Westwood-Bales Elementary School in Friendswood, Texas for the past ten years. She’s also a motivational speaker and loves to influence and impact workshop participants in her signature Sing, Dance, Laugh and Build Character sessions. When she’s not at school, Barbara likes to write, read, knit, bake, and spend time with family and friends.  Check out Barbara’s uplifting blog, Corner on Character, to read her inspirational stories about positive people and elevating experiences.

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