Category Archives: Creative Thinking

Gifts for the Gifted – Bare Conductive Touch Board

 A few years ago, I thought I would help out the parents of my gifted and talented students by writing about some games, toys, or books that I thought might make good purchases during the holiday season.  I called the series of posts, “Gifts for the Gifted,” and I have continued to do it annually on every Friday in November and December.  These gifts are suggestions for any child – not just those who qualify for a GT program. Sometimes I receive a free product for review, but I am not paid for these posts, and I never recommend a product that I wouldn’t buy for my own child.  For past “Gifts for the Gifted” posts, you can visit this page. I also have a Pinterest Board of Games and Toys for Gifted Students. You may notice that I missed 2019, but I’m making up for it this year with a post every Thursday in November and December up until Christmas Eve.

Last year, we were able to get a grant in our Maker Space for some Bare Conductive Touch Boards and paint (there are smaller tubes of paint if you prefer). One of the choices for students’ final engineering projects in my class was to create a work of art that integrated the touch board and paint. I just scoured my Google Photos archive and, for some reason, have no video of the final projects in action 😦 Here are pics of the artwork and the back of their canvases, though.

The black paint that you see in the mariachi and country pictures is conductive. The concept was to attach the sound board to the back and connect the black paint with copper tape to the sound board. But, as you can see in the bottom picture, the copper tape was not being cooperatively sticky enough so one of the students ended up soldering wires to it instead. (Soldering is not mandatory; we just wanted to make it more durable.) We made hinged frames for the canvases to enclose the speakers and touch board but allow us to turn them on/off and change batteries if needed. The mariachi instruments played music based on which instrument you touched, and the countries played their anthems. (That group was fascinated with countries of the Cold War.)

Don’t let the over-complexity of the project scare you off. I tend to imagine projects that leave out a few minor details in in my initial drafts. What’s cool about the Bare Conductive Touch Board is that it is actually easy to use. There is a little Micro SD card for you to add your sounds, and you probably want to attach a cheap speaker (I got these at Target for $3) that has a microphone jack so you can hear it. As you can see, we also gave it a battery, but you can alternatively just attach it to your laptop, depending on your project. Here is a step-by-step intro to the board that shows you how easy it is to get it working. There are also instructions for making a midi piano.

I was first inspired to look into doing a project like this when I saw this video. For those of you who have used or seen the Makey Makey (a past Gifts for the Gifted recommendation), you can see that this takes the potential just a bit further.

If you have a child/student who loves to create art and would be interested in attaching sound to it, this is a unique gift that they would definitely enjoy.

Pies by Inspired to Taste

In the United States we will be celebrating Thanksgiving tomorrow. One of the traditional desserts served is pie. Of course that means I will be making an oreo cheesecake. Because that’s how I roll. Also because I saw this article in My Modern Met and realized that I had been doing pies all wrong. I wish I could post the pictures of these pies on here, but even the rebellious part of me likes to observe copyright laws. If you just want to skip the article and go straight to the pictures, here is Liz Joy’s pie portfolio. I would love to have students look at these pictures, and have them design their own pie decor. I can’t imagine eating any of Joy’s masterpieces, but people generally say that the same thing about what I prepare – minus the “masterpiece” part, and for a different reason.

Gifts for the Gifted – Sleuth and Solve

 A few years ago, I thought I would help out the parents of my gifted and talented students by writing about some games, toys, or books that I thought might make good purchases during the holiday season.  I called the series of posts, “Gifts for the Gifted,” and I have continued to do it annually on every Friday in November and December.  These gifts are suggestions for any child – not just those who qualify for a GT program. Sometimes I receive a free product for review, but I am not paid for these posts, and I never recommend a product that I wouldn’t buy for my own child.  For past “Gifts for the Gifted” posts, you can visit this page. I also have a Pinterest Board of Games and Toys for Gifted Students. You may notice that I missed 2019, but I’m making up for it this year with a post every Thursday in November and December up until Christmas Eve.

If you know children who love riddles, like the ones on TED Ed, and are about 8 years and up, you might want to consider getting them one of the Sleuth and Solve books (there are two) by Anna Gallo and Victor Escandell. Each book has more than 20 short riddles with fun illustrations and the answer behind a card you can fold down. I have only previewed the one with the black cover (not the History one), so I can’t describe both, but I imagine their format is similar.

The riddles use icons to communicate to the reader whether or not they can be solved using logic or imagination, and there are stars to indicate their difficulty levels (six stars being the most difficult). Some of the riddles are familiar, such as “Crossing the River,” while others are definitely new to me. One feature that I really like is that the book describes how it can be played as a game, encouraging families (or groups in class) to keep track of the cases they solve and how many points they earn for each solution based on the difficulty level. As I mentioned in last week’s gift post, you can really maximize the impact of any gift if you, the giver, play along with the recipient. And, don’t assume you will have to “play dumb.” Some of these riddles are quite diabolical.

I am giving you a link to these books from one of our new local bookstores, Nowhere Bookshop. The store is owned by one of my favorite authors, Jenny Lawson, also known as “The Bloggess.” Unfortunately, their grand opening coincided with the pandemic, so they have only been able to operate virtually. I’d love for you to support them so they will be able to survive and one day open their doors. If you prefer to support another independent bookstore, you can find some on Bookshop.org.

For those who love mysteries and riddles, here is a link to a past recommendation from this series, Invisible Ink books.

Google Jamboard Templates and Ideas

I’ve recently seen a large uptick in visits to my Google Jamboard post, as well as people sharing Jamboard templates and ideas on social media. One person who is particularly creative and prolific in creating Jamboards is @GiftedTawk, and I’ve been curating as many as I can from her Twitter feed. Whether you are looking for graphic organizers to use with Jamboard (or Padlet, or even Slides) like these from @ergoEDU or mindbending creativity and logic challenges like this pentomino Jamboard from @GiftedTawk, you are sure to find something ready-made for your class in this list. There are also some tips on the list, such as how to embed a Jamboard in Seesaw, and how to “freeze” your background on Jamboard so it doesn’t get moved accidentally. A few Halloween Jamboards are in there, just in case you are looking for some last-minute activities for this week. (I’ve also put them in my “Halloween During a Pandemic” Wakelet.)

For a “live” updated list of Google Jamboard Templates and Ideas, click here. If you have any others that I should add to the list, let me know!

Which Door Will the Ball Hit?

The Kid Should See This tweeted the link to this great video, “Which Door Will the Ball Hit?” so I think it’s only fair to send you to their link to read more about it.  I adore this idea from Joseph Herscher of using Rube Goldberg-type machines to make video puzzles, and I think it would be an excellent “hook” to show students before asking them to design their own.  To get some practice before they design their first prototypes, they could play the Bubble Ball app, Goldburger to Go, or this game on Engineering.com.

You can also view more of my Rube Goldberg posts here.  And, if your students enjoy puzzle videos, the TED Ed riddle videos are great.  (My students were big fans of the River Crossing Riddle.)

Dominoes
Image by SparrowsHome from Pixabay

Write. Right. Rite.

Last week, I mentioned the book Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and Youby Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi.  Reynolds is currently the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, and he has joined with the Library of Congress to make a series of short videos challenging children to authentically express themselves about different topics.  The Write.Right.Rite. series currently has over 20 prompts, and each one is a personal invitation from Jason Reynolds to think creatively.  From asking you to design an award for yourself  to writing a song for the shower, this list of ideas would be fun for any writing classroom – and I really wish I could see some of the responses!

If you haven’t ever picked up a book by Jason Reynolds, you can get a quick idea of his unique voice by reading one of the wonderful, “Grab the Mic” newsletters he has authored.  Also, the Library of Congress has curated an impressive list of resources that give more information about this incredible author.

For more innovative writing ideas for your classroom, check out this post about 826 Digital, a project for young writers by another wonderful author, Dave Eggers.

Child Writing
Image by free stock photos from www.picjumbo.com from Pixabay