Category Archives: Creative Thinking

Mom’s Dream Home

Since my 2nd graders are studying structures right now, it seems only right that they should design one of their own.  With Mother’s Day coming up, I thought I could make their designs seem more relevant if they had a “client” in mind.  I keep talking about the importance of empathy in Design Thinking, and they seem to have a difficult time empathizing with fictional characters, so I chose someone they might know a bit more.

We started by brainstorming things that their moms like.  One hand immediately went up.  “Facebook,” the student declared.  LOL, I thought, hoping this wasn’t about to become one of those situations where the students volunteered more information than needed to be shared in a public school setting…  My own daughter would probably respond, “Playing Sudoku on her iPad while she watches ‘Call the Midwife.'”

Fortunately, the rest of the responses were pretty standard.  “Peace and quiet” seemed pretty popular, as did “sleep” and “me.”  Some of the students suggested they also put things that their moms don’t like, such as shoes on the floor, to help them with their later designs.

After the students brainstormed decent lists, I showed them an example of a house floorplan.  We talked about what unique rooms we could add to customize a house for their mom.  “For example, you might like basketball so an indoor basketball court would be in your dream home.  But what would be in your mom’s?”

The floorplans are just rough drafts at the moment, but you can see a couple of examples below.  I’m still debating what the final product will look like.  Draw the outside of the house and do a green screen video?  Make a card with the house facade on the outside and the floorplan on the inside?  I think the moms will get a kick out of what their children think they value no matter what the medium of delivery, but I’d be happy to take any of your suggestions in the comments below!

By the way, if you would like some other ideas for Mother’s Day activities, here is my post from last year.

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This student decided to provide a literal “emergency escape hole”
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Note the Antique (anttek) Room, the giant facebook screen, Hawaii (Hawwi) waters, and the Stress (sress) Room.
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Measure This. #2

Day 2 of this year’s standardized testing, so I’m posting a few more amazing feats that defy measurement on any state-mandated tests.  You can see Day 1 here.

Miniature Origami Art

Walmart Yodeling Kid

And I absolutely adore the snow shovel art done by Cindy Chinn.  You can see more images in this article, and you can visit her Etsy store here.  Thanks to Cindy for giving me permission to include this picture/ (If you like her snow shovel art, you should also check out her pencil carvings!)

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The Tree Swing by Cindy Chinn

 

Measure This. #1

In honor of standardized testing, I’ve decided to showcase a few amazing talents that could never be assessed with multiple choice questions:

Shag Carpet Cakes

Miniature Embroidery Masterpieces

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Imagine_Images on Pixabay

Creativity Needs a New PR Person

So, my first graders dropped a piano on my head last week.  I should not have found it quite as surprising as I did, but they still caught me off guard. 

I showed them the Creativity video from Apple, and I asked what I thought was kind of a rhetorical question, “Is creativity important?”

One child squinted at me nervously, one nodded somewhat hesitantly, and the other two vigorously shook their heads.  (I normally have 5 in this first grade gifted class, but one was absent.)

I tried not to show my astonishment, my absolute disbelief that they could have responded in any way but, “YES!!!”

After I picked my jaw off the floor, I asked the two certain-that-creativity-is-not-important students, “Why isn’t creativity important?”

One didn’t really have an answer, and the other said with great conviction, “Because it’s just fun!”

creativity
image from Sandra Lock on Flickr

 

How had this happened?  (Maybe because I need the above poster plastered on my wall.) How had I spent this long with these students without communicating that I feel, very very strongly, that creativity is so important?

Yesterday, I decided to get a wider sample from my class of 18 second-graders.  Some of these kids have been with me since Kindergarten, so I was hoping more cumulative exposure to my teaching would give me different results.

It was slightly better.  Only 5 students shook their heads.  But the yeses did not seem very confident.  When I asked the “no” students to explain, one student said, “Because it’s destructive.  The more humans create, the more of our planet and animals we destroy.”

Wow.  That certainly made sense.  

Other students were quick to respond with how human creativity can solve problems, sometimes even improving things, and that it makes life worth living.  

But still.

When I asked, “Which would you rather have more of – creativity or knowledge?” most of the class said, “Creativity!”  But I suspect they may have figured out by then that I was not very happy about creativity getting a bum rap.

Obviously, creativity needs a new ad campaign in my classroom.  Instead of saying, “Now, let’s do something fun!”, I need to say, “Now, let’s do another kind of important thinking,” or, “Now, let’s work on solving problems a different way.”  I thought I was good at praising unique answers and unusual methods, but now I see that I don’t do it often enough.  

Of course, I want creativity to be “fun,” but does that mean it can’t also be important?  Does that mean the perceived “important” types of work can’t be fun?

This tweet that I saw the other day explains one reason that many of our students probably feel this way.

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Do we have to measure creativity for it to be considered a valuable asset?  If not, then what can we do to help our students understand its significance.

Or, maybe I’m wrong.  Maybe creativity really isn’t that big of a deal.

imagination
image from QuotesEverlasting on Flickr

 

National Poetry Month Ideas

April is National Poetry Month.  Here are a few poetry activities I’ve done in the past that I felt were really worthwhile:

Also, if you are looking for an awesome new-ish poetry book for kids, here is my review of I’m Just No Good at Rhyming by Chris Harris.

ReadWriteThink offers two tools for writing Haikus (an interactive site and an app).

I’m not especially fond of Acrostic Poetry (it usually turns into a list, rather than a poem), but here are some ideas to make Acrostics a bit more rigorous, especially for gifted students:

Or, how about acrostic poems where both the initial and the final letters of each line spell a word?

Here are 30 other ways to celebrate National Poetry Month from Poets.org.

For your own amusement, if you have a Twitter account, check out Poetweet.

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Inspiration from Apple

Apple made some announcements yesterday regarding additional support for educators with new products and management tools.  You can read about it here.  As part of its “Everyone Can Create” campaign, the company released a new video, “One Person Can Change the World.”  Of course, its ultimate purpose is to sell Apple products, but listening to the children narrating may make you ready to go out and do something incredible.  A couple of great quotes from the short video are:

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As I watched the video on YouTube, I noticed another Apple video from 2014 that I don’t remember seeing before today.  This second video is called, “Perspective,” and I can’t wait to show it to my students.  As Apple states in the video description, “Here’s to those who have always seen things differently.”

Both of these videos will be added to my Pinterest page of Inspirational Videos for Students.

SCAMPERing Outside the Rainbow

It has been awhile (2013!) since I posted some St. Patrick’s Day S.C.A.M.P.E.R.  ideas.   S.C.A.M.P.E.R. is an acronym to help people to remember different ways inventive ideas can happen:  Substitute, Combine, Adapt, Modify, Put to Another Use, and Rearrange.  It was originally developed by a man named Roger Eberle.  Here is a link to a post I did about S.C.A.M.P.E.R.

My 2nd graders worked on using “Combine” and “Put to Another Use” this week.  For “Combine,” they invented something new with a clock and a four-leaf-clover. (I love how the clock hands will pinch you if you aren’t wearing green!)  The “Put to Another Use” assignment asked the students to think of another way to use a Leprechaun hat.

You can use these ideas in your own classroom, as well as the ones on my original post, with any drawing paper or even as writing prompts.

For more St. Patrick’s ideas, don’t forget to check out yesterday’s post!

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