This blog has gained many new readers over the past year. Because of that, I thought it might be worth sharing a daily “A Look Back” where I share a best post from the past twelve years. You can also see all of my choices for “Best” posts here.

This post originally appeared in 2016:


You might be wondering, “What in the world is the Green Eggs and Ham hypothesis?”

It’s a new moniker given to what has commonly been called the “constraints principle” – an instructional strategy to help promote creativity.

In my classroom, this strategy has included limiting words (story told in seven words),; time (one minute to summarize lesson to partner), or materials (small groups are given six pieces of tape, six paper clips, and six pieces of paper to build the tallest tower—while only speaking only English with each other or using gestures—and write a description of the process).

Even though I had used those lessons in the past, I didn’t realize it was an actual “principle” until I read a great free eBook from the British Council titled Creativity in the English language classroom.

I learned about the “Green Eggs and Ham hypothesis” through a new study where the researcher gave the concept that name. Here’s why:

Haught-Tromp refers to this as the Green Eggs and Ham hypothesis, named after the famous Dr. Seuss book that came about as a result of a particular provocation. Writer/illustrator Theodore Geisel was given a challenge by his publisher: Write a book small children will love using no more than 50 words (which could be repeated as often as needed). The result became a classic.

And here’s another excerpt from the article summary her findings in The Pacific Standard, Constraints Can Be a Catalyst for Creativity:


I’m adding this info to The Best Sources Of Advice On Helping Students Strengthen & Develop Their Creativity.