Terraforma Creativity Catalyst Cards


How can I use animals to explore other worlds through my drawing using colored pencils?

Students new to making their own creative choices often need guidance to come up with their own ideas. After years of being led through step by step project, pulling out their own ideas is not just a matter of providing an open studio. One way I scaffold for my middle school students is by providing themes. But sometimes even this doesn’t provide enough room for the students’ own ideas.


How can I use spectrum to explore seascape through my painting using watercolor

At the NAEA convention in Chicago last spring, I discovered Terraforma cards. http://terraformacards.squarespace.com They looked like an intriguing way to help my students come up with their own themes. You can watch their online video to learn more, but I would describe them to students as an art Madlib.


How can I use venomous creatures to explore beautiful dangers in my sculptures using clay.

They have a sentence prompt with 4 blanks. There are 5 different sentences that have increasing levels of complexity. We started with the first one. “How do I use (theme) to explore (subject) in my (process) using (media).” The cards are paired with incredible, rich images on the front and connected words on the back organized by the aforementioned categories. I gave each table 3 pairs. Students took turns picking a favorite card from each of the 3 pairs. With those 3 cards in hand, they then wrote down one theme, subject, process and media from each card. Then they used those words to fill in the blanks on their sentences.


How can I use dragons to explore childhood memories through my drawing using chalk pastels.

I tested the cards out with my 7th graders. Two small classes of kids who had me last year and had been through all my “Around the Room” activities and felt comfortable in my studio classroom. They loved the cards and how they both guided and opened them up to ideas. I was so impressed with their work for the first project of the year. So diverse, interesting and engaging. And not a single student complained about the task. (Which can be a rarity in middle school!)

ow can I use Soldiers to explore technology through my animation using Computer/pivot.

How can I use Soldiers to explore technology through my animation using Computer/pivot.

Of course with the different sizes and mediums kids were finishing at very different speeds. When they finished, I had them draw cards for another prompt and do a second artwork. For the grade they selected their favorite of the two. Both the kids and I look forward to using them again this year.

See more art from this lesson here. http://www.artsonia.com/museum/gallery.asp?project=1193743

3 comments on “Terraforma Creativity Catalyst Cards

  1. Thank you for explaining clearly how you used these. I am wondering how to use the paired ideas, sort of like surrealism used odd pairings. Might be too abstract for middle school.

  2. Hi and thank you for posting! I’ve found your blog super helpful as I transition to TAB in my own middle school classroom. I too recently got a deck of terraforma cards though haven’t used them with my students yet. I am curious as to which deck you used. Do you have the regular art deck or the elementary art deck? I went for the elementary deck as I work with a high needs population but now I’m curious as to what’s in the other deck.

    • I have the art deck. I plan to buy the elementary deck because my kids did struggle with some of the words. They have a science one coming out later this month. So plan to get at the same time.