Category Archives: Creative Thinking

PicCollage Game Boards

The PicCollage (or PicKids) app is a versatile tool that my students have used for reflection, creating visuals for a report, and telling stories.  Recently, I’ve seen a couple of different articles on the web about students and teachers using PicCollage to make game boards.  This can range in educational value from creation for fun all of the way to another way to assess learning.  In all cases, creativity can be a part of the activity as students can personalize the boards with photos, stickers, and text.  For some examples and specific integration ideas, check out these two blog posts: “Digital Game Boards with PicCollage” and “Creating and Playing Games on PicCollage.”

Mindset Monopoly
Mindset Monopoly Game created by some of my 3rd Graders (using some Mandala images made by my 4th graders!)

#Awards

One of my absolute favorite bloggers, Joelle Trayers, posted some pictures last week of some Hashtag Awards her Kinder students designed for themselves.  Of course, I couldn’t wait to try the idea myself!  I met with my 1st graders today, and we had a short discussion about hashtags.  Then they designed their own hashtag awards.  In a way, this is similar to a 6 Word Memoir activity because it helps me to learn so much about what is important to my students and how they see themselves.  I might try this at the beginning of the year next time!

Photo May 23, 12 39 15 PMPhoto May 23, 12 40 31 PMPhoto May 23, 12 41 34 PMPhoto May 23, 12 43 28 PMPhoto May 23, 12 43 47 PMPhoto May 23, 12 43 55 PMPhoto May 23, 12 44 12 PM

More End of the Year Stuff

This is a reblog of a post that I did a couple of years ago, but it was originally titled, “Alternatives to Showing the Movie Frozen for the Next 14 Days.”  Since that movie is kind of over now, I came up with a more fitting title for my recycled material 😉

yearend
image from Live Life Happy on Flickr

You know how it goes.  Grades are turned in.  Textbooks have been collected.  The computer lab is shut down.  But the activity level of our students has gone up.  What’s a teacher supposed to do?

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I’ve been trying to get my students to reflect on the year.  Using our class blog as a reference has helped tremendously.

Yesterday, with my GT 1st graders, I also asked them to look through the blog posts for their grade level.  They used a simple printable I found from Laura Candler to write their favorite moments of the year.  Here are some examples:

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Using divergent thinking for activities like the Squiggle Challenge and S.C.A.M.P.E.R. were very popular with this class.  Speaking of S.C.A.M.P.E.R., here is what some of them did with a page from my Summer Pool Party S.C.A.M.P.E.R. packet – Put an inflatable pool cushion to another use. (By the way, all of my grade levels, K-5, love doing S.C.A.M.P.E.R. drawings!)

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One of the blog posts the first graders “re-discovered” as they reflected was this one.  Try showing the Kid President video at the bottom of that post, and see if your own students can add to the list.  We used Padlet, but old-fashioned pencil and paper works, too!

Here are some other ideas from past posts for making the last couple of weeks fun and engaging:

I would also recommend checking out the Not Just Child’s Play blog by Joelle Trayers for ideas.  That woman always has creative suggestions that can be modified for any elementary grade level!

Faberge Eggs

My 4th grade GT students study masterpieces each year.  The story of the Faberge Eggs, annually created for the last Russian czar’s mother and wife, fascinates all of us – especially when considered in the context of the tragedy that later befell the family.  I use this piece of history to discuss empathy – how Faberge displayed it with every detail of his intricate creations, and how the Romanovs’ lack of this important trait resulted in their demise.

Usually, my students create their own Faberge Eggs, and then design “surprises” to go inside a partner’s egg.  They interview their partners and play different games with them to learn more about them.  Then they have a week to make a design that will be particularly meaningful for the other person.

I have cried over some of the incredibly creative ideas that some students come up with for this project.  One year, a student created a military medal for a student who had a soldier parent fighting overseas. There have been poems, clay objects, a message in a bottle, flags, snowglobes, and so many other little presents.  The students scored each other on how meaningful the gifts were – and many of them made up for themselves in thought what they might have lacked in skill.

This year, egg designing season rolled around a bit later than usual.  Since Mothers Day is just around the corner, I decided to have the students decorate their papier mache eggs for their mothers rather than their peers.  They also created 3d printed surprises to put in each egg.

As generally happens when I try something new, there were some successes and some failures.  Without the interviews and other activities we did in previous years, some of the “surprises” seemed to be less deep than in the past.  (This could also be because of the 3d printing limitation.)  Next year, I think we will need to do a few activities to help the students understand their mothers as people rather than just parents, and I will open the project back up to any hand-made surprise instead of only 3d printed ones.

Here is a link to some other Mothers Day activities in case you are interested.

faberge
Some of the Faberge “surprises” from a couple of years ago.

Some of this year’s Faberge Eggs and “surprises” (in between paint coats)

Original Thinkers

“Original Thinkers” is a fascinating TED Talk by Adam Grant, author of Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World.  “The greatest originals are the ones who fail the most – because they are the ones who try the most,” according to Grant.  Using the story of his own failure to invest in a new company that would later become incredibly successful, Adam Grant describes the misconceptions we have about original thinkers, how procrastination can lead to great ideas, and even how the web browsers we use can reveal the inherent creativity in our personalities.

I discovered “Original Thinkers” when I was browsing through the “TED Collections”  section of the Mensa for Kids website.  This page includes 21 links to TED Talk videos and excellent discussion questions and extensions for each one.  I highly recommend you take a look at these fascinating options, as I am sure you will find something that will be of interest to you and your students.  As always, preview the videos before showing them to your class.  (“Original Thinkers” does have the word, “crap” in it – which may or may not be inappropriate for your particular audience.) . I will be adding this to my Inspirational Videos for Kids Pinterest Board, where you can also find many great video resources.

Original Thinkers
Screen Shot from Original Thinkers TED Talk by Adam Grant, showing how different amounts of procrastination affect creativity

EV3 Vending Machine

I just had to share this Lego/EV3 vending machine created by one of my 5th grade students.  He is in my GT class as well as our campus Robotics Club.  He owns an EV3, and spent his spare time last week making this contraption to dispense Starburst candies every time you deposit a quarter.  There are other versions on the internet, where he got the idea, but he apparently created his machine using his own design.  Super cool!

A.I. Duet

Today’s Frivolous Friday post is in honor of my colleague, Angela Leonhardt, who is a music educator extraordinaire.  She just made it to the finals for our district’s Teacher of the Year.  That honor and many more are well-deserved by this wonderful teacher, who enriches our community with her dedication.  If I had any music composition skills, I would play her a magnificent fanfare with this A.I. Duet experiment from Google.  Unfortunately, even A.I. can’t mask my ineptitude, but I’m sure that someone with Angela’s talent can find a way to make beautiful music with this fun tool.

H/T to Mental Floss for sharing A.I. Duet with its readers.

withoutmusic
image from Raphael Love on Flickr