Creative Thinking, Education, K-12, Motivation, Parenting, Teaching Tools, Videos

Inspirational Videos for Students (Update)

This week, I’ve decided to reblog some of my more popular posts with some updates. The post below has remained in the top 5 ever since I published it.  Beneath it, I’ve decided to add a few other favorites.

#3:  The Power of Words – I also mentioned this in yesterday’s post of Inspirational Videos for Teachers.  It is good for everyone, in my opinion, to be more thoughtful about what we say.  If our communication is not having the effect we desire, we should reconsider the way we are choosing to deliver our message.

#2:  The Kindness Boomerang – I have never done a post on this one.  I read about it recently on Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day, and knew right away that I would like to add it to my blog.  Although it is somewhat simplistic, it does show how our actions can effect many more people than we will ever know.

#1:  Times of India Tree Ad – This is a powerful video that shows how important one person can be in effecting change.  It says a lot – without any words.

Here are links to my original posts on #3 and #1: The Power of Words and Times of India Tree Ad.

Also, you might want to visit my Pinterest board of Inspirational Videos for Students here.

UPDATE 6/23/15: I originally published the above list in 2011 – so I’ve definitely accumulated some more favorites over the years. Here are three more I would add:

#3: A Pep Talk from Kid President – My students love all of the Kid President videos, but this is the first one they saw in my class and they beg for it again and again. (Be sure to look at my post on Kid President’s book, too!)

#2: Mark Bezos TED Talk and King of the Island (TIE!) – These two very different videos really complement each other.  They are about being a hero in ordinary life.

AND, Drum Roll Please…

#1: Caine’s Arcade – I never get tired of this video, and I’m always making people watch it when I hear they have never heard of it!  I think, in many ways, Nirvan Mullick and Caine have inspired me to be the teacher I am today.  Once you watch this, you will definitely want to learn more about the Global Cardboard Challenge.


Creative Thinking, Education, Games, K-12

Life After the Cardboard Arcade

This is the 2nd year that I’ve participated in the annual Global Cardboard Challenge, inspired by Caine’s Arcade.  After last year, I had three goals in mind for this year’s event:

  • increase the number of students making games
  • increase the number of students who play the games
  • find a way to integrate the project with raising money for a charity

Last year, my GT students at the school were the only ones who participated.  This year, we started a school Maker Club.  With the help of two other amazing sponsors, we were able to add 24 more students to the roster of game designers.

To increase the number of players, we changed venues.  We moved the arcade from our school to the party rooms at a place called Main Event.  Main Event is an entertainment complex near us that offers bowling, laser tag, a ropes course, and video arcade as well as food and drink.  So, families could enjoy our games and make a night of it.

There were some amazing games included in our arcade.  Two of the more notable ones were a huge Sphero obstacle course created by a group of 6 students and a human fortune-telling machine! (Check these projects out in the slide show and videos below.)

For our charity, the students selected Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation, a local organization that helps wildlife that have been injured to recover and return to their habitats as well as offering “forever” homes to wild animals that will never be able to survive on their own.

Our event went really well.  We raised over $700 for our charity and everyone seemed to have a fabulous time.  As an added bonus, sponsors from WRR came to our arcade and selected some of the games to be donated to the organization.  They will be sending us pictures and videos of the games being used for primate enrichment!

And that leads me to wonder how many other ways our games could have a second life next year.  Many of the students dedicated hours to creating their masterpieces.  It would be nice to give those games more than one day in the spotlight.  Monkeys aren’t the only ones that might appreciate them once the Big Event ends.  How about donating them to a Children’s Shelter, a hospital, or possibly a local library?  Admittedly, none of those is quite as exciting as watching a monkey play your game, but there are definitely many ways these creative projects can keep on giving…

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Art, Creative Thinking, Education, K-12, Student Response, Teaching Tools, Videos, Websites

Tried and True – Global Cardboard Challenge

The Cardboard Theater created by one of my 3rd Grade students for the 2013 Global Cardboard Challenge
The Cardboard Theater created by one of my 3rd Grade students for the 2013 Global Cardboard Challenge

On this blog, I tend to post about a lot of ideas that I find, and some readers don’t always get a chance to know if I ever tried them – or if they were complete flops.  This week, I want to feature a few past ideas that I did try and that were successful – and that I definitely want to do again.

In 2013 I stumbled across the Global Cardboard Challenge, and decided to see what my GT students could do with it.  I had great hopes for it – and I was not disappointed.  Here is one of the posts that I did while we were in the midst of the project.  My GT students in 1st through 5th grade all participated.  You can see some of their creations here.

When I say that I have never been so completely useless as a teacher in my life (except when I administer standardized testing), I am not exaggerating.  Why was I useless?  Because once the students got to work, they were completely engaged for hours at a time – and they really did not want my help or suggestions.  I stood around and made cuts in boxes and distributed packing tape.

I am planning to expand the Challenge this year to include not only my GT students, but also students in a Maker Club that I am going to be sponsoring after school.  We also have a fundraiser in the works where the students will display their final products at a local business and the community will be invited to play the cardboard games for a small donation to a charity that my students will determine.

This year’s Global Cardboard Challenge is scheduled for October 11, 2014.  But you do not have to actually create on that date!  Go to the site for the details and resources, and think about what works for your community of creative kids.  And, if you or your students have not seen Caine’s Arcade, the amazing video that inspired this event, make sure you watch it!

Art, Creative Thinking, Education, Games, K-12, Student Products

Our Cardboard Collaboration Celebration

Pinball Machine made with pieces from Makedo Image from:  Imagination Foundation
Pinball Machine made with pieces from Makedo
Image from: Imagination Foundation

My 2nd grade GT class started working on their Global Cardboard Challenge projects yesterday, and I am so glad we are participating this year!

I mentioned the Global Cardboard Challenge in a recent post, and the kids were amazed when I showed them that Nirvan Mullick (the director of Caine’s Arcade, and one of the driving forces behind the Global Cardboard Challenge) actually commented on the post!

Mr. Mullick mentioned in his comment that Mattress Firm is delivering free supplies for the Challenge, and you can get more information at or register to receive supplies here.

Fortunately, I have plenty of boxes and cardboard donated by teachers during the last few weeks.  September is an excellent time to get cardboard since so many people have recently moved over the summer!

I also received my Makedo set just in time, and the kids particularly like the saws and the “hole-punchers.”  I like that the students can be safely self-sufficient until I can come over to help them!

I brought my own box-cutters to help with the more refined cutting, and I also invested in a big roll of packing tape, which has come in very handy, so far.

The creativity amazed me.  So far, not one invention is anything like anyone else’s – and I still have 4 other grade levels yet to begin their projects!  One of my new students brought supplies to make his own ATM machine – including an old doorbell to use as a button, something to use as the camera, and monopoly money to push out of the slot.  Another student has an art machine all ready to generate a masterpiece for you if you just add a little paint.

What I really enjoyed, though, was seeing the kids help each other with their projects by problem-solving, lending supplies, and offering physical labor.

(You’re probably wondering by now, where all of the pictures are of these great creations.  I took a bunch, but then realized that I need to double-check their photo permissions before I post them on the web.)

I urge you to go to the Global Cardboard Challenge Site to get more information.  If you scroll down to the bottom, you will find some PDF resources.  Also, if you want to get some ideas, click on “See the Events” at the top.   For example, how about “The Pirate  Arcade” in Dripping Springs?  Or, the “Tech Trap Machine” in San Jose?  You could do a fun Geography lesson by checking out all of the countries participating in the challenge, too!

Art, Creative Thinking, Education, K-12, Motivation, Student Products

Global Cardboard Challenge

Yesterday I mentioned that I am working on repurposing a bookshelf to create a “Genius Bar” for my classroom.  Another project I am planning is to transform the old, gigantic, executive type desk that I inherited into a mini Maker Studio.  My vision is to put all kinds of materials in its nooks and crannies that students can use to create whatever they imagine.  I usually collect old boxes and various other containers for some of the projects my students do throughout the year, so this will be a place to store them have them readily available.  Access to the “Maker Studio” is going to be something the students will earn when they reach a certain level in my classroom. (The levels are based on the idea of gamification.  I’ll explain this more in a later post – not because I’m holding back on you,  but because I haven’t actually thought the whole process through yet!)

To kick off the whole Maker Studio idea, I am hoping to participate in “The Global Cardboard Challenge.”  This is a project that began last year, inspired by Caine’s Arcade.  The idea is to encourage kids to create cardboard creations throughout the month of September, and then to come together to celebrate and play with them on October 5th.  I completely missed the boat last year – but this year I am ready.  Well, I’m kind of ready.  I need to start collecting cardboard.  That part is kind of important, I suppose!  We may not be “official hosts” this year, but we are definitely going to get involved, and I hope you will, too!

photo from Global Cardboard Challenge 2012
photo from Global Cardboard Challenge 2012

Art, Creative Thinking, Education, Games, K-12, Motivation, Problem Solving, Student Products, Teaching Tools, Videos, Websites

Caine’s Arcade One Year Later

Screen Shot 2013-04-10 at 7.55.45 PM

On April 9, 2012, the video, “Caine’s Arcade” was posted online for the world to see.  I have posted about this truly inspiring video in the past, in addition to the subsequent formation of the Imagination Foundation.  If you have never seen this video, you must make time to watch it.  Caine is one of my heroes, and I am so glad that Nirvan Mullick chanced upon Caine’s Arcade, and realized what a wonderful story it would make.  This is a true tale of imagination, perseverance, ingenuity, and problem solving.  Mullick has posted some updates on the home page of Caine’s Arcade to let everyone know what has happened in the past year – including the over $200,000 raised in scholarship money for Caine. In addition, you can learn how you can help Mullick win a $100,000 grant to “foster creativity and imagination in more kids.”

Feel the need for a pick-me-up?  Watch Caine show you the power of a positive attitude.

Caine’s Arcade from Nirvan Mullick on Vimeo.