Favorite Quotes:

Child sitting on parachute: "Don't shoot me up too high, okay?"

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Thinking Outside of the Bag

Photo and sculpture by student/architect
Kapla Blocks
What might it be? (I'll start: A Fairy Hotel)
Respond in the comments section after this post.

One sensory activity that I like to do from time to time is a guessing game that challenges children to identify objects using only their sense of touch.

During this activity, a student reaches into a bag (without looking) and grasps the first thing that she touches. The student then tries to identify the item prior to removing it from the bag.

I make a point to include items that are familiar in shape, so that the children will be successful. For example, I may include a pair of sunglasses, a cup, a brush, a teddy bear, and so on.

Upon asking one of the students what he thought his object might be, he replied,

“A hole.” He then pulled out a bangle bracelet. A hole! Far out, dude.

We go around the circle: Spoon. Paintbrush. Paper Plate. Block.

Then we come back to the same little boy. He reaches in, pauses, and says,

“General Grievous.” I love it. (For those of you not in-the-know, General Grievous is a a bizarre skeletal robot from Star Wars). The boy then pulls a metal race car from the bag.

Hmm. Perhaps he was taking the question “what do you think it might be?” literally. It’s not nearly the same question as “what is it?”

It is a child’s natural state to “think outside of the box.” They are born outside of the box. Adults are the ones buying them the boxes, sticking them in there, and paying for rush shipping. It’s hard not to. We live in a giant UPS store. (Alright, enough with the box metaphors).

So, now I make a point to remember that what was originally a sensory exercise can be used as a tactile challenge or a creativity exercise, depending upon how the question of identification is phrased.

It’s ironic that I needed this reminder this from one of my students when, in fact, I’ve been using a similar creativity exercise at educator workshops for years. During the exercise, I give the teachers a simple object, and they then have to list all of the things that the object might symbolize in under a minute. For example, if they are given a piece of string, they might come up with: a leash, a hair tie, a tightrope, a fishing line…and so on.

We see a star flickering low in the sky, and we know that it’s a star. Most of us have lost that youthful ability to stop and imagine that it is a fairy, a beacon from a pirate ship, or a candle in a castle window. I just heard a series of beeps. It might have been a spy radio signal or a robot, but unfortunately, it was my dryer. Time to get back in the box.

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