With the recent emphasis on standards, skills, and test scores in school, there has never been a more important time to be mindful of the need for imagination, creativity, and play in the lives of young students. There have been countless articles written and research projects undertaken to reinforce the need for creativity and play in the lives and education of children. Perhaps one of the most well known is the Ted talk by Sir Ken Robinson. Although the talk was presented in 2006, the problem persists, and perhaps, is even greater today. in many schools, than it was then!
Even if you are teaching in a standards or skills-based learning environment, most standards and skills-based learning can take place within creative activities. The learning will undoubtedly be more meaningful, connected, and will be more likely to result in mastery, when presented in a playful way. Here is one example I have used with both first and second graders, but can easily be adapted for any elementary grade level!
What child does not like to build a snowman? Regardless of where you live, you can make a
Decorating the snowmen requires a variety of supplies like construction paper, crepe paper, buttons, pompoms, wiggly eyes, etc. Craft glue works better than school glue to hold things in place. An afternoon of creativity will result in a classroom full of delightful characters sure to bring smiles and enthusiasm! The learning, however, has just begun! The snowmen are the center of an abundance of learning opportunities. I will share a few I have used, then use your own creative thinking to find connections to the standards in your grade level!
- Geometric shapes (cylinder, cone, sphere)
- measurement (height, weight, circumference)
- child created story problems acted out with the snowmen. (Have each child write a story problem to be reproduced into a booklet or worksheet of problems for the class to solve.)
- Solid, liquid, and gas (balloons, paper mache goop, flour and water, evaporation)
- Read a variety of snowman stories.
- Write how-to build a snowman (either with snow or paper mache).
- Write creative snowman stories emphasizing fiction story elements like characters, setting, problem, events, solution, beginning, middle, and end. (I always used the stories as an opportunity for the kids to make an actual book, complete with cardboard and cloth covers, and illustrations. The books were then on hand for the other children in the class to read during reading time. They were sent home with the snowmen when the project was completed.)
- Create a class version of the well known Snowmen At Night, by Caralyn Buehner.
Here is an example of one of our multimedia videos:
The possibilities for learning are endless with a project like this. A few days of messy, busy creativity will allow your young students to learn with their imaginations and playful spirits. Plan your learning targets ahead of time, then watch as engagement and mastery abound!