My Kindergartners visit the local firehouse each fall. Prior to going, we do a bit of research, share knowledge, wonder, ask questions, and make our own fire trucks!
This year we made our trucks out of shoe boxes. Using the boxes was super fun because by their very nature, the boxes opened up new avenues of creativity! The cardboard offered structure and strength, but also yielded to scissors, serrated knives, and hole punchers. Glue, paste, paint, crayons, tape and markers all adhered to the boxes with some ease. And, spectacularly, the lids – connected or free – invited the kids to engage with the outside AND the inside of their truck.
Once we began creating, I allowed my students a great amount of freedom. I didn’t do much directing, but instead offered myself as a resource. Sometimes they borrowed my hands to hold things, my strength to cut or hole punch, or my brain for some brainstorming and collaborative problem solving.
I did my best to allow the ideas and suggestions to come from them. In this way, they are able to take ownership, learn about themselves, and really show me (and themselves) what they are able to do, what they know, and how they think.
Making the firetrucks was a fun and fascinating process. The creations displayed a depth of knowledge and understanding. The students displayed an eye for detail and a willingness to work to achieve their vision.
Take a look at this firefighter.
She is decked out in firefighting gear, and most amazingly, she is in a seat with back bracing AND a working seat belt!
Some students engaged deeply with the open-ended part of the creative process, but not as deeply with the critical thinking part of the creative process. Their trucks were filled with a plethora of beautiful creations that didn’t immediately suggest a firetruck.
To encourage the critical thinking piece, our creative process includes adding labels, and giving tours of their truck. During the tour we look at what they’ve made, and talk about what the firefighters might still need.
Take a look at this truck. During the tour, the student told me these things were “decorations.”
Decorations? Hmmm. Where did I take that? I didn’t want to belittle her creative work, but I did want her to remember the goal, and work towards it. So, I decided to embrace every piece of her creation, and push her towards figuring out what each thing might be on a firetruck. What do the firefighters need? How could her creations fill those needs.
My approach invited her to look at her own work with new eyes. It was a form of possibility thinking. She had to move beyond what each item was. She had to think about what she knew firefighters need. Then she had to look at each “decoration” and consider what it might be. She did an awesome job.
Decorations turned into motors, sirens, buckets, hoses and windows!
I learned a lot from that encounter. I was affirmed in my choice to trust myself, my student, the creative process, and possibility thinking.
There is such awesomeness and power in each one of us – especially when we trust and engage in creativity and possibility thinking.