Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Thinking Outside the Box

Last summer, Michelle came across a couple of blogs that excited her.  These two blogs, Think! and Journey into Unschooling create think challenges for their kids that require them to think outside the box, to solve problems and to be creative.  There is so much learning going on when kids are given an open ended task that invites them to explore, imagine and experiment.

With days longer in the summer and more free time, Michelle and I would go for long walks in the evening.  We started to talk through this idea of think challenges and how we could make it something that would work for us and our kids.  These kinds of challenges fit in really nicely with what believe about kids, how they learn best and what they need as they move forward in their educational career.

So far this school year, we have done several think challenges.  For the most part, we take turns so that the kids get a different think challenge each week from one of us.  Sometimes the students are asked write about the challenge and sometimes they don't.  We almost always take photos of the process and the creations.

Most of the think challenges we have done so far are taken from blogs mentioned above.  Sometimes we tinker with them or adapt them to better meet our needs, but if you are interested in doing some "Thinking Outside the Box" activities in your classroom or at home, those two blogs are great places to start.

Here are some photos of a "Thinking Outside the Box" challenge we did in December.

The students were asked to create the tallest structure possible using straws, playing cards and paper clips.

I snapped photos of the finished product and printed them out.  They glued their photograph onto a sheet that I made.  Each child wrote about what they created and measured the length and width of their structure.  They were so into this project, that we ended spending a good chunk of the morning on this task.  The kids were completely engaged and as well as working on problem solving and creativity, they were writing and doing some math.

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