Creative Ways to Survive the Week Before Winter Break

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Screen Shot from Kelly Wine’s Rube Goldberg-esque Holiday Machine Video

Let’s face it.  This week is hard.  No one – including you – is feeling very focused on academics right now.  To save everyone’s sanity, and to put smiles on all of the faces in the room, try some of these creative ideas:

Here are a couple I have mentioned before, but it doesn’t hurt to repeat.

More in this series:

Logical Ways to Survive the Week Before Winter Break!

Physical Ways to Survive the Week Before Winter Break!

A Cornucopia of Creative and Critical Thinking Activities for Thanksgiving

from the Autumn S.C.A.M.P.E.R. packet, "Put to Another Use"
from the Autumn S.C.A.M.P.E.R. packet, “Put to Another Use”  This student decided a hay wagon could be used as a Space Simulator for animals!

UPDATE 11/2/2020: Here is a link to over 45 Thanksgiving activities you can use in your classroom.

Many of us in the States have only a week and a half left before the Thanksgiving holidays. Here are a few resources that might be fun to sprinkle into the curriculum as everyone starts running for the light at the end of the tunnel.  All of them are free except for my shameless plug at the end 🙂

Pumpkin Adaptations – a cute activity from Miss Trayers at “Not Just Child’s Play”

Thanksgiving Thinking Hats  – I use this with my 2nd graders to see if they can “think about their thinking” (see my Thinking Hats post for more info)

A Thanksgiving Timeline via Google Earth – a wonderful way to integrate Thanksgiving, Technology, and Geography from Laura Moore at “Learn Moore Stuff”

The First Thanksgiving – from Scholastic.com, includes videos, historical letters, and resource guides for teachers

Thanksgiving Analogies – from “Minds in Bloom”

What are You Thankful For?  Ask it Better. – I love these great ideas for putting a twist on this age-old question, also from “Minds in Bloom” (You could use a Padlet wall for the responses – H/T to Richard Byrne)

You are the Historian – Investigate the First Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Sudoku – online

Thanksgiving Sudoku – printable

Superhero S.C.A.M.P.E.R.

I think my compadre over at “Not Just Child’s Play” and I are having some kind of mind meld because she posted about S.C.A.M.P.E.R. as I was already in the throes of preparing this post!  I love her ideas for Back to School scampering, and actually had a similar idea that I included in my own Back to School Packet.

A quick recap of S.C.A.M.P.E.R.:  S.C.A.M.P.E.R. is an acronym used to help one remember some great tools for creative thinking. “Substitute” is the first tool, followed by “Combine”, “Adapt”, “Modify”, “Put to Another Use”, “Eliminate”, and “Rearrange.”

I have developed a few S.C.A.M.P.E.R. products over the years, and my students love it when I pass out the activity pages.  There are always several students that wow me with their unique responses.  You can see some of my previous S.C.A.M.P.E.R. posts with student examples here.

I recently added a S.C.A.M.P.E.R. Through the Seasons packet to my Teachers Pay Teachers store here.  The cost is $8, and includes 7 pages for each of the 4 seasons, plus Back to School – so 35 pages total.  (If you have previously purchased the Summer, Spring, or Winter Holidays packet, then I would recommend buying the Back to School and Autumn packets separately.)

I went a little wild this weekend, and decided it would be fun to create a Superhero packet as well.  The Superhero packet is going to be free until this Thursday, August 15th.  You can download it here.  I have included a sample below.  I used the Superhero Comic Book Maker app ($2.99) by Duck Duck Moose to create the graphics.

These activities are great at a center, as rewards, as challenges for students who have completed other work, and as warm-up activities.  It’s always fun to see the final results!

substitutesuperhero

Gamekit

About_Hero

I intended to spend this week posting about what I have learned at ISTE, but I came across this site last night, and could not wait to share it.  It combines quite a few of the educational topics that are near and dear to my heart: creativity, self-designed learning, gamifying the classroom, and even programming for kids.

What is Gamekit?  According to their site, “Each month, Gamekit will bring you a new game development challenge to stretch and build your creative muscles.”

The site has four warmups, currently, and I can’t wait to see what they add.  My favorite one, so far, is “Mod a Board Game.”  I’ve actually done an activity similar to this in my classroom, asking the kids to take an old board game they no longer play and to make it into a new game.  You can use a lot of the tools from S.C.A.M.P.E.R. to do this.

Each warmup describes the steps, gives suggestions for how to “dive deeper”, and gives tips for educators.  Under each warmup is an area for comments, where the community can give examples of how they completed the challenge.

In the “Design a Play Space” warmup, Gamekit has teamed up with Gamestar Mechanic to create a challenge – perfect for those aspiring video game designers.

I am really looking forward to seeing the evolution of Gamekit.  I love this idea, and will be sharing it with the parents of my students to encourage some creative thinking during the summer months!

Easter S.C.A.M.P.E.R.

To get my students’ creative juices flowing, I allowed them to choose from some Easter S.C.A.M.P.E.R. prompts this week.  (I also offered some Spring prompts for those who don’t celebrate Easter).  If you are not familiar with S.C.A.M.P.E.R., you can view my original post about it here.  The two most popular prompts were for “Rearrange” and “Combine”.  The first asked, “If Easter was rearranged so the Easter Bunny would get gifts instead of you, what would you give the rabbit who already has all of the carrots he needs?”  And for the second one, “Give the Easter Bunny another famous character as a partner, and tell how his or her talents could be helpful to the Easter Bunny.”

You can borrow the above prompts if you like, or if you would like the whole Easter Creative Thinking packet, you can download it here for a $1.00.  You can also find the Spring one  and the Summer Pool Party one at my TPT store.

This 3rd grader would give the Easter Bunny a brand new computer - along with his very own website.
This 3rd grader would give the Easter Bunny a brand new computer – along with his very own website.

 

This 1st grader decided that Barbie in A Mermaid Tale would be the perfect partner for the Easter Bunny because she can swim to houses.
This 1st grader decided that Barbie in A Mermaid Tale would be the perfect partner for the Easter Bunny because she can swim to houses.

 

St. Patrick’s Day S.C.A.M.P.E.R.

One of the creative thinking tools that my students learn is S.C.A.M.P.E.R.  It 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.  in December.

I am currently offering my S.C.A.M.P.E.R. St. Patrick’s Day packet for $2.00  on Teachers Pay Teachers.  You can download it here.  I also have several other S.C.A.M.P.E.R. packets for sale (Easter, Spring, and Pool Party).  Below are some examples from my classes of creative thinking from the St. Patrick’s Day packet. If you would like to see some more examples of class work, here is a link to our class blog. (It would really tickle the students if you commented on their work!)

(If you are looking for another fun St. Patrick’s Day activity, you might want to take a look at my “Leprechaun Traps and Other Shenanigans” post.  Since my Kinders are currently studying “Inventor Thinking”, they are going to be inventing leprechaun traps this Friday with recyclable materials.  I’ll share some of their results next week!  Also, here is a great collection of St. Patrick’s Day links from Technology Rocks. Seriously.)

In this examples, the students had to adapt a classroom to fit the needs of leprechauns.  Take a close look at the subjects they will be learning that day:  Four Leaf Clovers, Leap Year, and How to Find a Pot of Gold.
In this example, the students had to adapt a classroom to fit the needs of leprechauns. Take a close look at the subjects they will be learning that day: Four Leaf Clovers, Leap Year, and How to Find a Pot of Gold.
This student substituted a monster for the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.  He explained that the monster was guarding a cave that led to a treasure.
This student substituted a monster for the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. He explained that the monster was guarding a cave that led to a treasure.