A concept that I am trying to hammer into my students' brains this year is this "use it or lose it" mentality...that we need to exercise our brains (just as we exercise our bodies) to be creative. Sure, there are naturally creative students and there are straight-up talented kids in my classes.
I did this lesson with my third graders this week and they LOVED it. I LOVED how everyone was pleased with their work and their OWN ideas. I loved how different they all turned out!
On each table I put a sheet that had a few artistic elements on it (if you'd like a PDF of this sheet, just email me). I told the students they had to use ONLY those elements to create their "creature". (Many of them looked at me like I was crazy because it wasn't going to look "realistic"---they didn't see "eyes" on the paper, or a nose, etc.)