Creative Thinking, Education, K-12, Research, Videos

How Play Leads to Great Inventions

Dr. Pauline Dow (@PaulineDow), an Associate Superintendent in our district, shared this recent TED Talk by Steven Johnson, “How Play Leads to Great Inventions,” in a tweet this week.  Steven Johnson, you may remember, is an author I’ve mentioned on this blog because I was fascinated by his book, How We Got to Now.  Johnson is adept at tracing innovations back through time to discover the (often surprising) building blocks that made them possible.

In this October, 2016, TED Talk, Johnson claims that necessity is not always the mother of invention – and that play may be just as, if not more, important when it comes to generating new ideas.  I’m pretty certain that Sir Ken Robinson would approve this message.

I will be adding this video to my Pinterest Board of Inspirational Videos for Teachers.  Click here to see more.


Creative Thinking, Education, K-5

From Puffy Paint to Laser Mazes

I saw a tweet about a construction toy called, “Brackitz” that intrigued me the other day.  I followed the link to their website, and clicked on video that shows their product being featured on the Today Show.  It looks like a great addition to any Maker Space.  As I watched the video segment, though, I saw some other wonderful suggestions for sparking the imagination of young children. Meredith Sinclair, who blogs here, showcases some fun indoor activities that you may not have seen before.  Her creative ideas include: making your own puffy paint, injecting water colors into a jello mold, mess-less finger painting (genius!), and a “laser” maze you can make with things in your own home.

Watch this short video, and then head over to Meredith Plays for even more reasons to wish you were a child again!

Know How to Play

Education, Fun Friday, Videos

Elephants Making their Own Mud Slide

Well, it’s Phun Phriday.  I did my best to find something completely fun and relatively non-educational.  I suppose you could make it into something educational if you really want to get into the human-like behavior of elephants and the horrible consequences of poaching them.  But that’s not what Phun Phriday is all about.

Watch carefully about 48 seconds in as the bigger elephant quite deliberately makes a nice mud ramp for itself, bending its legs to enjoy the slippery descent.

elephant slide

This video is kind of a cute follow-up to last week’s video of the panda sliding around in the snow 😉

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!