I don't need any specific advice since it isn't terribly important, I'm just curious if creativity, as observed in the classroom, has taken a nose-dive lately. I've only taught for 5 years, so I don't have anything to compare it to, but I am really surprised how unoriginal my elementary school students think and am wondering if this is a common problem or just a problem at my school. The best example I can think of is that students sometimes sing a song where they get a turn to pick the name of a sea creature to put into the lyrics. I demonstrate this with different sea creatures (real and imaginary - shark, mermaid, etc.). I elicit other examples from students to use with the class. I even sang them a book/song that taught them the names of 12 different sea creatures. Before each time we play/sing the game, I give them thinking time to think of a name and keep it a secret for when it is their turn. Then I prompt them to think of a "back up" in case someone else uses their answer. However, months later, you better believe that when the first kid picks "octopus" the next 12 kids will also just say "octopus." If I stop the game and prompt them to pick a DIFFERENT sea creature, they will just go back to whatever name was said before octopus or stare blankly. Do you think this is my teaching environment (Low SES, urban, ELL) or do you think it is universal? I can remember when I was kid, we seemed to all be trying to outdo each other with off-the-wall answers and variations all the time, so this is surprising to me.