Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Creative Celebration


Create something unique with two elements.  One black circle and one white piece of paper.  
You may use tape, scissors and coloured pencils and will have 20 minutes to complete.  

If three people see a horse in a field and are then asked to draw it, no picture will be the same.  Our visual input is different.  Unique.  While none of these pictures would be the same, it is important to appreciate the diversity in each one.  
In my lesson today, I gave each pupil two elements.  One black circle and one white piece of paper.  Using nothing other than pencils, tape and scissors,  the task is to transform the elements into something unique and exceptional.  I watched as 10 pupils all made very different things. The conversations between them wonderful. Not once, did any pupil become distracted from the task.  Many of the pupils used flexible thinking as they adapted their projects as they went along.  One pupil made a reindeer.  Another called her project 'Patience' as she felt that it took a lot of this to complete!  A pupil made a beautiful moonlit scene by cutting out the black and letting the white show through.  There was an object that could be a shoe, hat, dinosaur foot and more.  I love the fluency in thinking of so many useful ideas for one object!  One pupil made an optical illusion with coloured stripes and using the black circle as a removable flap.  
Year after year I have facilitated this lesson, and year after year I am amazed at the creativity displayed in each project.  At the end of the lesson, each pupil gave a demonstration of their project and we all celebrated the unique ideas that were shared.  Along with sharing the project, I asked each pupil to complete the sentence.... I use creativity when I....    This was a great way to reflect on the importance of divergent thinking! 

This is an easy activity to do with your own children at home, your pupils, or in a business meeting where celebrating creativity is important. ( I think this applies to everyone!)  If you try this one out, please let me know the outcome! 

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Bubble Wrap Popping Chairs

Invent a new type of seat that you have NEVER seen before...
This is the Crames Game that was on the board today. The same creative thinking class is also working on their sweet shop which I talked about in last week's entry.  I have uploaded  a few pictures of the fabulous ideas that I had from Year 3, 4 and 5 pupils.

Sometimes we are faced with a creative block that needs to be unlocked.  Today, one of my students said to me that she was finding it difficult to come up with an idea for a new type of seat.  Trying to find an idea with no direction can sometimes be daunting.  I explained a simple technique for unlocking creativity when faced with this situation.  First, brainstorm a list of topics. Any topics! Ideas from newspapers, jobs, hobbies and more. For example, our list today said:

  • technology
  • cooking
  • schools
  • vehicles
  • sports
  • medicine
  • animals

This took less than two minutes to come up with.  Now faced with the same question:
Invent a new type of seat that you have NEVER seen before.... but try to relate it to one of the topics.  All of a sudden you have many ideas! A seat used in medicine, with cooking, in schools, in a new type of vehicle, with extraordinary technology or something to do with animals.  The block is gone and the ideas come flowing out. I explained to the pupils, that when faced with any creative block, this technique works wonders! Can you invent a new type of seat that has never been invented before? Let me know! Some of my favourite chairs invented today are listed below.

  • A dinosaur chair that eats you when you don't sit still ( I asked for one of these for my little one!)
  • A bubble wrap popping chair (could entertain you for hours!)
  • An egg yolk seat
  • The Bouncinator
  • A jigsaw revolving chair
  • Octopus Seat for 8
  • The disabled super star tennis seat (a combination of sports and medicine?)
  • The dict-a seat  (this one gives you the answer to all vocabulary that you don't know)

I hope that you can use this technique and that you might try this Crames Game at home or in the classroom. Have a Happy Thanksgiving. I am American after all! 

Thursday, 17 November 2011

The Battle of Tastings

Most of the time, I begin my lessons with a Crames Game (to be published September 2012) on the board and on my Creative Wall while working on another project.  Today, I used one of the Crames from Stance, Balance and Perception. This is looking at something from a different point of view.  "Would you rather be a piece of spaghetti or an earthworm?' As usual, my Wall was full, and the children have something to think about this week. However, the most fun we had this week came from the project that the pupils are working on. We have been doing Sweet Shoppe from Brilliant Activities (2003) for weeks. This is an activity where the pupils come up with a theme and design for their own sweet store. There are no limits to what they can do, and we even take the project from theme, to menu, invention of original sweets, making mock-ups, designing the shop and finding our target market. In the lesson we were talking about themes today when one of the pupils announced the theme: HISTORY.  We had so much fun trying to come up with names for her sweets that would combine history with tasty treats.  Some of our ideas were: Henry the Cake, or Henry the Flake, Anne Bo-chocolate-Sin, Cleofatra and The Battle of Tastings.  All of the pupils started trying to think up names for the history themed creation. Can you think of any that I can share with my pupils? Any ideas would be great! In the meantime...we will keep thinking and brainstorming too!

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Caterpillars in Handbags

Today, I started my lesson with a Crames Game that I let the pupils work on throughout the lesson.  I have a creative wall outside my classroom and let the pupils use the white board for their answers.  They love writing in anything other than their own books or paper and it's a great way to share all the responses when everyone can see them.  I leave the Crames Games on the Creative Wall all week, so that when pupils are passing, they can continue to express their ideas.  I have attached images of the wall and the white board. As you can see, this particular Crame sparked loads of interest! I asked the pupils to do one of the Give me 5 games from my new book.  The aim is to try and come up with as short of sentence possible with words that don't go together at all. Today, the words were, Serious, Petrol, Caterpillar, Handbag and Doctor.  I couldn't get them to stop coming up with ideas to do anything else (which is a good thing!)   The board was full, the Creative Wall was filling up, so I had to keep adding blank sheets for more responses!  Pupils that were not even in my classroom were lining up to write down their responses.  Here are some of my favourites...
  • The doctor had a serious patient who had swallowed a caterpillar covered in petrol inside a handbag.  
  • On the way to the doctor, Ellie seriously ran out of petrol but found a cute caterpillar which she placed in her handbag. 
  • The Serious Doctor stopped for petrol and found a caterpillar so he put it in his wife's handbag.
I love for a lesson to take a new turn, so with this third example, I decided to turn the answer into a Flow (Crames) question.  I asked the pupils WHY do you think that the SERIOUS doctor put a caterpillar in his wife's handbag?? As you can imagine there was a plethora of hilarious responses but one that was really lovely was  "The doctor diagnosed himself as too serious and the only cure was to do something crazy, like put a caterpillar in his wife's handbag!  
Overall- a great lesson and I hope to return next week to find my Creative Wall overflowing! 

Friday, 4 November 2011

Embarrassment Game

For the last six weeks, some of my Year 3 and 4 pupils have been doing an activity from my book entitled Brilliant Activities for Gifted and Talented Children called Rain Rain, Go Away.  For this activity, you imagine that you are in the middle of a move and are having three friends over to play.  The plan is to play outside, but it begins to rain. With limited resources, (cardboard, tape writing utensils) you decide to create a board game that is creative and different to any one that you have played before.  By giving the participants limited resources, you encourage them to use flexible thinking and risk taking. This is also a great activity for cooperative learning.  My pupils have worked for weeks on this activity and have been thoroughly engaged from the beginning stages.  The final product from one group is an Embarrassment Game.  I had to laugh at the things that they found embarrassing! Using the cardboard, the pupils created a game board that had pieces of cardboard that you would flip over for an embarrassing task.  There was also a place on the board for a smackaroo.  The pupils made their own smackaroo and had the most fun inventing this!  Some of the embarrassing tasks included singing a song, spell the hardest word you know, tell an embarrassing story, create an embarrassing word that you have never heard, and do the 'funky chicken'!  I was really pleased with the list which was taken from a previous brainstorm.  Also, the task of creating a word utilises the highest level of thinking in Bloom's Taxonomy. (Synthesis)  When the game was complete, the pupils had tons of fun playing their own game.  It is always amazing when you see four pupils come together on a task and enjoy it so much.  They spent hours on something that only took imagination, teamwork, cardboard, tape and pens and at the same time- lots of CREATIVE THINKING!

Saturday, 29 October 2011

The Pumpkin Needs A Tail

It's still half term and so I find that I am blogging about my children instead of students! Today, we have had loads of children around for pumpkin carving.  My husband usually takes this job as he has an eye for detail, is quite a good artist, and likes things to look as they 'should'. He has all of the children drawing exactly what they want before making a cut.  They will use the precision kit for a nice finish. They all look like a carved pumpkin in a picture would look. Except one.  When all of our guests and children are finished, my husband proudly lines them up and admires their work. (under his supervision)  Once all of the children are back on the trampoline (again), my husband says to me in an exasperated tone- "All of these look wonderful except Claudia's which has been cut to bits.  She says that it needed a tail." I picked up her pumpkin and burst into laughter.  On the front, a nice pumpkin face and at the back, a large zig zag hole. Even if it was an accident this is a great example of flexible thinking! The first thing that I felt was proud! She is always the one that is in the most trouble but always gives us the most giggles and is always looking for a way to be a nonconformist.  I said to my husband that I thought the pumpkin was wonderful and at least it would give off lots of light- we agreed that we shouldn't always expect the normal and to celebrate her creativity.  Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Half Term Boredom

With half term upon us- the dreaded word- Boredom! However, determined not to fill my children's schedules up with holiday clubs, camps etc, I heard the word bored today. Despite the two children that my daughter had over to play and the endless hours on the trampoline (I call this our extension because the kids spend so much time on it), cookie baking, trips to the library...the word finally came today.  This is only on day 4 of half term and there are three more to go.  When the girls came in and said that they were bored, I decided to try a few Crames with them.  Out to the trampoline I went, with three pencils, three pieces of paper, and three Crames written on one.  The first, was a Give me 5 challenge.  The girls had to challenge each other to write the shortest sentence possible with 5 words that didn't go together at all.  The second challenge was to Invent a secret handshake to show friendship.  The third Crame was also from Invent- something for a book that has never been invented.  It took me less than 5 minutes to prepare and kept the girls busy for ages! They loved the challenge and I found myself really interested in their answers.  It was a great way for me to interact and keep my daughter and her friends from saying that dreaded word! If any of you have time to try these, please let me know how they go! It was a success today- bring on tomorrow!

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Boys against Girls

Just started my first blog! I am really excited about my new book which will be published in September! It is a guide on how to be a creative thinker in only 5 minutes a day- I have been practicing these 'Crames' with the kids that I teach and with my own. My 9 year old daughter loves them. She is even beginning to make up her own.  Today, I decided to give one to my Year 5 class. Their task was to brainstorm as many songs and books that had a colour in the title.  Well, they really enjoyed it- and of course I had shouting and general excitement as the ideas came into their heads! Then, I took the challenge further and put girls against boys, and the team that ran out of ideas first could not win.  You can imagine the competition. We had Purple rain, Yellow Submarine, Yellow (Coldplay) Blue Suede Shoes, Blue Moon, Greenfingers, The Colour Purple and many many more.  The most fun was when the ideas began to run out and the teams became desperate. We call this our mindshower time- the brain has run out of ideas and you must try to let it rain again! The teams both recalled their nursery days at the end with Blue Train, Red Train and more. We were laughing so much by then, that the lesson was over and we all agreed that we could not pick a winner! I left school to go and collect my own son with a smile on my face because I knew that  I had lots of happy children leaving my class and their brains in gear! It was a great session!