Creative prompts can help students focus their creativity and hone problem-solving skills. Creative prompts can be open-ended or more structured--depending on your maker goal. Check out the video below to learn more.
You can find our Digital Design Card site here.
If you are an educator within Grant Wood AEA, a Defined Learning account has been purchased for you and an account has been created! See below for details of how to log in!
Because we have already created an account associated with school Gmail address, you can click on Sign in with Google, choose your school email address from the prompt, and get started!
‘Creative constraints’ has been a common phrase heard on Think, Make, Innovate. In our current reality of self-isolation and quarantine, creative constraints has become our anthem.
Recently, the Getty Museum in Los Angeles challenged the community to recreate famous works of art with household items. The community responded with gusto! This seems like the perfect challenge for our students, but with a bit of a twist! Because Grant Wood is our famous local artist, we wanted to challenge our teachers, students, and own Grant Wood staff to recreate famous Grant Wood artwork.
A few suggestions or tips we have to get started:
Get your family involved.
Include your pets!
Household items, toys, and food are great items to create with.
Use lighting to your advantage.
Get inspired by checking out our Wakelet with some examples from the Getty Museum Challenge and see a small collection of Grant Wood Art that is just waiting to be remade.
We can’t wait to see what you make! Make sure to share your pictures with us by tagging @DLGWAEA or use #HaveFunMaking. You can also email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
~Amber Bridge and Mindy Cairney
Digital Learning Consultants
If you want to get your kids thinking creatively when they are at home from school, the free activities from Jarett Lerner are a great place to start. Lerner is the author of EngiNerds and its sequel, Revenge of the EngiNerds, as well as the author of the forthcoming Geeger the Robot early chapter book series. When he is not hard at work writing (and illustrating) books, he is creating free activities for kids to download from his website. Each activity gives students the chance to express their creativity and show some critical thinking. They are also ideal for unleashing your inner artist and practicing language arts skills.
Exploring the Jarrett Lerner Activities
If you visit jarrettlerner.com/activities, you will find dozens of free downloads that the author has created for kids of all ages. They were designed to be used in educational and/or private settings, so they are prefect for use at home or at school. He has blank comic book pages, "Finish this comic" comics, and a whole slew of drawing and writing prompts. You can see a couple of examples below.
Real World Examples
My kids have enjoyed using Lerner's activities while home from school as part of the COVID-19 school closures. My wife and I will also join in because these are truly something that the whole family can do together. They are great conversation starters, a fantastic way to practice storytelling skills, and a fun way to exercise your child's imagination.
Now, worksheets are not normally a popular activity in my house, but these are so much more. You don't have to do them every day but these could be a great way to freshen up your homeschool activities and bring some much needed variety. Most can completed in 10-20 minutes, so they are great to have on hand if you are looking for a fun transition activity or even a quick way to pass time while you are making lunch for the kids. To give you a flavor of what the finished product looks like, here are a couple of "Finish This Comic" comics that my wife and daughter worked on last week.
These learning activities can also be a great opportunity to spend some time away from screens. That may sound strange coming from a Digital Learning Consultant, but everyone on our team will tell you the same thing. Kids need a healthy balance between online and offline activities.
So, head over to jarrettlerner.com/activities and see what you can find for you and your family!
Digital Learning Consultant
Making, STEM, and Design Thinking are some of the more popular buzzwords floating around the educational world. Some people use these terms interchangeably. Is that okay? Are Making, STEM, and Design Thinking that similar? I believe each of these terms have skills and characteristics that overlap, but that each area holds true to its identity and connection to creativity.
Over the last two years, I’ve been working to engage educators around our area in conversations around this exact topic through a Creative Challenges Cohort at Grant Wood AEA. As part of #MakerMarch, I thought it would be great to open up this conversation to everyone in a blog series that will run this month. First, we are going to tackle the topic of Making.
Today, we are going to peak into the conversation with three of our Year 2 Cohort Members. Let’s see what they have to say about Making….
Melissa Kane (@Abookworm813)
Messy and merry - this is how it might look if you come in the high school library during a making session. The laughs might come from the students trying to match the picture or instructions I found online and seeing what we actually come up with. We may not always get it exactly like the picture, but we have fun trying. I have found that following instructions isn’t always easy for everyone but we sometimes get even better results when we go out on our own to see what we can do.
And there is always a mess on the table, floors, and sometimes even following the students out the door. I am sure the janitors secretly curse me on days we turn the library into a mess but it is truly one of the best 30-40 minutes of my day when we have time for it.
We have made our own stockings to stuff for the holidays and tried our hand on DIY soap and shampoo for the hygiene supply store we are starting in our health office. And one of the biggest hits for Makerspace supplies has been the beads that stick together with some spritz of water to make shapes and designs. I have already had to replace the beads twice as students will show up when they need a break or want to see if they can make something better than what their friend did
There are some days when I have up to five creations sitting on my desk to dry and pick up at the end of the day. And it is always great to see the smiles when they pick them up and show their friend what they made as their friend is asking when they can come and make one for themselves! I think that the joy is probably the best part of making. Even if you don’t end up with exactly what you set out in the beginning it is okay because you had fun along the way. With high school students it is always fun to see their inner child come out as they are glueing or cutting or picking out colors. I sometimes worry there is not enough “learning” as we make, but I have come to realize sometimes it is okay for my students just to have the time to be creative and see what shakes out and the smiles along the way make it even better.
Bridget Speer (@sewfun82)
Have you ever looked at the back of a cross stitch pattern? The front is a beautiful design, but when you look at the back you see all the links between stitches, knots, leftover strings. When I think about cross stitch, I think about all the work that went into creating the design and hiding all the imperfections. I believe the Maker Movement is a way to allow students to explore and design so that one day their products will be a beautiful design.
Making is messy, but that doesn’t mean that it is disorganized. I tried to make a cross stitched pillow with a pattern I found on clearance. I quickly realized that I needed to be organized in order to complete this project, as well as needing some practice. I needed to organize the threads so that I would be able to match the colors to the intricate design.
Making is a way to help foster problem solving. Each of us brings past experiences to the projects we build. When we allow students the chance to have experiences building with cardboard, creating green screen and stop motion videos, and exploring the wonder of 3D printers, we are helping them gain experiences that can help them in the future. As Mr. Rogers said “Children’s play is not just kids’ stuff. Children’s play is rather the stuff of most future inventions.” (https://twentytwowords.com/incredibly-inspiring-mr-rogers-quotes-that-will-brighten-your-day/)
I believe that making is an important part of the school day. We need to allow students to try new things; to provide a safe place to try hard things, fail, and try again. I went to my students to help me write a description of our school’s makerspace
Gina Miller (@GinaBeckMiller)
Making to me is taking your thoughts; dreams, fantasy, play, creativity, desires, inventions, dramatics, art, engineering, problem solving, and combining them into mental ideas that are then able to be transferred into a plan that is written, drawn & labeled. That plan can then be evolved into a creation to express those thoughts, revising as necessary/desired.
To be able to complete that cycle is a life skill that will take students into their futures. Many studies have been completed asking major employers about the skills necessary for new employees, more so than their education at times it their ability to function in society working together with others, accepting others and creative problem solving. So making is not only extremely FUN! It is also preparing this new generation for employable skills necessary as adults.
What does Making or Maker Experiences mean to you?
We'd love to hear your thoughts! Add a comment below to join in on the conversation and make sure that you are following along with #MakerMarch all month long.
And remember #HaveFunMaking!
~Amber Bridge, Digital Learning Consultant
A new Think, Make, Innovate is out and we are giving you a behind the scenes connection with Sara Pflughaupt, Solon Community School District's Teacher Librarian (@scsdlibraries) in this guest blog post.
A makerspace is an area where students can build, create, and innovate. Students take part in a variety of hands-on activities to develop critical thinking, problem-solving, collaboration, and decision-making skills. Having a school makerspace gives teachers the ability to increase learning opportunities for students and design curricular opportunities that build connections across grade levels and content areas. Despite our best efforts as educators, when concepts are abstract some students cannot develop the level of understanding required. Sometimes we need to tap into multiple modalities in order to help make abstract ideas more concrete. This is where making comes in!
The fourth grade students at Solon Intermediate School recently experienced one of these unique learning opportunities. As the Solon’s Teacher Librarian, I collaborated with the fourth grade teachers to create an activity that would engage students in making and connect to the learning happening within their classroom. Their first reading unit was focused on reading intensely to interpret characters. To do this, they used the book, The Tiger Rising by Kate DiCamillo as a mentor text. The activity stemmed from one particular quote from that text. “He made all of his feelings go inside the suitcase; he stuffed them in tight and then sat on the suitcase and locked it shut” (p. 3). The character, Rob, was discussed at length and there were discussions about what they suitcase symbolizes. Students also shared what kinds of feelings or thoughts Rob put in his suitcase. Next, the students transitioned to a making activity that required them to create a model of a suitcase using a wide variety of materials.
The following day, the students were brought back together. This time the students were given some time for self-reflection. They were to use this time to draw or write on small pieces of paper what some of their thoughts or feelings are that they would put in their “suitcase” similar to Rob in The Tiger Rising. When students were finished, they placed these pieces of paper in their model suitcase and everyone sat in a circle around the room. Students were then given the opportunity to share some of the things they had put in their suitcase, although this was not required. The teachers started the discussion by sharing some things in their “suitcase,” and at first, only about five students shared. However, once a few students shared, more and more students started to open up. A sense of trust was built and students felt comfortable sharing some of their biggest worries, fears, and struggles. Tears were shed and relationships were built as students learned about each other. In addition, students developed empathy for one another and started to realize that many of their peers were struggling with some of the same things they were and that they were not alone. This was an incredible experience for everyone involved. This makerspace activity tapped into multiple subjects and multiple skill sets in connected ways. Most importantly, students were given the chance to express themselves in creative ways within the curriculum.
See What Our Student Makers Created
~ Sara Pflughaupt
Solon Community School District
A Maker Minute: We Love Cardboard!
Last year, an amazing group of educators assembled to be a part of a new course called Creative Challenges Teacher Cohort. The goal of the course was meant to give teachers an opportunity to think and learn more about Making, STEM and Design Thinking and build up the community of teachers around the area who are working to try new things in their classroom to get their students creating.
At the end of our year, many of the teachers said they’d like to continue on, so we have been moving forward with more creative adventures. And in this go round, I want to give more of a voice to our cohort members. Keep reading to learn more from a few of the teachers in this Cohort about creative challenges and the importance of student creativity.
From Gina Miller (@GinaBeckMiller), Belle Plaine Community School District
Creative Challenges are basically problem solving and adaptability in action.
When I think of the purpose of creative challenges it is to instill within our students the ability to recognize a problem and develop the ability to brainstorm possible scenarios or strategies to assist their current coping, with problem solving regardless of the size of the problem they are facing. Too many times students immediately run to an adult to have them fix it, give them the answer, do something for them.
My largest goal as an educator is to use purposeful activities/lessons that assist in problem solving practice, critical thinking, tying it to real world applications, empathy training/sensitivity to others, and, in turn, prepare students for their futures. We definitely do not do kids favors by doing things for them, rather than walking them through, what are your options for solving this problem? What have you done before to solve this type of problem, what have you noticed about the way(s) others have solved similar problems, or research to find how this problem has been or could be solved. I encourage students to use engineering design models or scientific process models to tackle any problem.
I also strongly feel that I push students to look at something, to not just see it, but to observe everything about something, how it works, what it was designed to do, the intended design and then encourage them to reverse engineer and / or think of new and original ways that object could be sued, or revamped to fit new needs.
My other biggest passion/and even pet peeve, is tenacity & resiliency development. I have so many students that want something to be perfect immediately, to not have to make revisions, to believe that they should be able to make something come to fruition because they can think about how it should/could be and they cannot make the connections between their brain and their hands or their dreams and their plans. (hey that rhymes!)
From Bridget Speer (@sewfun82) Benton Community School District
Quote: There is no end to education. It is not that you read a book, pass an examination, and finish with education. The whole of life, from the moment you are born to the moment you die, is a process of learning. ~Jiddu Krishnamurti
As a teacher, mom, and aunt, one of the things I am very passionate about is reaching all learners. I was a typical good student. I did my homework, didn’t get into too much trouble in class, read a lot. However, the things I remember most are the times when we got our hands “dirty” in projects. One time, our class made popcorn balls and sold them to raise money to buy trees for the playground. Another time, I remember creating types of Native American homes as we learned about different tribes. One of my favorites was creating a model of the Mississippi in our 8th grade science room complete with a pump to circulate the water! I can’t believe that anyone let us (or our teacher) haul that much sand, dirt and rocks into the classroom.
As I think about my work with students in our STEAM Lab, my goals are
Often people see makerspace as an arts & crafts session or unorganized mess. However, I believe that with creative challenges, we can expose students to powerful connections to learning. I have seen students demonstrate understanding of angles and polygons while coding robots. Other students developed empathy by researching and creating realistic habitats for a skunk that was at the center of their class read aloud. Makerspace doesn’t have to be extra.
From Melissa Kane (@Abookworm813), Anamosa Community School District
Thinking about thinking seems like a redundant statement but as I started thinking about the importance of a Makerspace that really is the key. So often we only see the product that is finished when our time is done; not the struggle it took to get the fabric to stand up to cover the wagon or the thirteen changes made to the code to make the wheel spin.
We need to take the time to talk through the process and explain the learning that happened. We need to use words like clarity, precision, empathy, and persisting as we discuss how we made it to the end product. This needs to just be part of the process and reflection as we work to and finish the product. I think of digital tools like Seesaw and Flipgrid that could allow students to create video clips about their learning and then edited together to share or review the journey of learning.
I also like the idea of sharing this learning out to others. I think it would be great to try and share the process with an engineer or professional in the field of what is created to get some feedback on the connection to real life could be a powerful tool for students as well. Tagging on Instagram and Twitter could be a way for students to get this interaction outside of the school walls.
If we allow these things to happen as we are using the Makerspace the importance may be seen by others outside the space as well. What are some ways you use to help your students think about their thinking in the Makerspace?
A big thanks to Gina, Bridget, and Melissa for sharing!
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