About Joanna Best
Posts by Joanna Best:
It’s important to constantly consider what creativity is, what it means and how to instill it in students. Of course, my answer is simple: provide materials that would otherwise be tossed, compile by theme, add scissors and glue and you are all set.
Of course, for some, there will be the temptation to put creativity on a grid, or a metric, or a way to compare. But just as often we do find that people of influence do understand the value of creativity (see here, and here, and here, and here).
Of course, speaking out against the standardization and testing movement is important, but if you find yourself teaching in the midst of it (as in, it is mandated), then keep that stock of scissors and glue and you will keep the creativity going.
Theme: Party Hats
Ages: K-2nd grade
Games: wear a party hat necklace; sing the song: Put on your party hat necklace, we’re having a party hat time; put on your party hat necklace, let’s make a party hat rhyme; (name a word, they give rhyming words); teams to put together the most mini paper party hats
Project with Scissors and Glue: decorate a flat party hat; decorate a mini party hat (upcycled plastic inserts from cone shaped objects)
There is no question that our society (and any society that is stratified, and not homogeneous) will yield circles (or orbits as we might hear in millennial culture) of communication, expectations, norms, aesthetics and ideals based on resources, expectations, moral codes and the availability of time and energy. And yet, what appeals to us in the creative realm and what dawns on those who channel creative energy is mostly intuitive.
Education, particularly in the day of choice (and probably in the day of “separate but equal,” and likely even in the heyday of public school prominence), will never be able to surmount these orbiting realms of thought. The best any formal approach can do is hope to keep up, by methods of research and response to any new state of the art development.
How do we “stay ahead of creativity” then? How do we lead it? How do we create the trends and not just follow them? How do we plan for creativity and use it for our betterment?
I believe that the goal of noticing the realms, levels or echelons of creativity going on around us is largely based on resources. Just as eating habits generally have developed from what foods are readily available, so too do creative endeavors that seem rewarding because they line up with the aesthetic and philosophical energy going on around us stem from the resources at our fingertips.
So I would ask teachers (just as I ask businesses I approach for donations of reusable and upcycleable materials), what resources are right there with you that you are not using? How could those resources contribute to the creativity you instill in students and that you model in your lessons?
The mission of Scissors and Glue is to model projects for students (or crafters) with upcycled materials; that is, the emphasis is creativity through resources that might otherwise be thrown away. Consider the number of coffee sleeves tossed out EVERY DAY. Some are corrugated, some are more of a quilted texture. Regardless the texture, they are almost all useful. Save them; find an interesting punch shape and voila. . .adornments for students to use (and not sparingly). Here, a series of pears. The lesson: fruits, songs with pear references, you name it. . make it work for you.
I can’t say enough what a good resource adhesive scrap is. Anytime I teach a workshop that uses adhesive foam scrap, I save all bits. When a good amount has been saved, I create a project that utilizes the scraps for mosaic. It’s a good time to do riddles with children or sing songs, while they are busy creating their mosaic.
A monster hat. Clothes for a favorite bear. And a fishing set. Check it out. Share if you’ve done the same. If you haven’t, think about what you can make for your child for a special gift and lasting memory.
Talk about a quote that’s useful (albeit this post title is a spin on the original quote: “It takes a village.”) I’ve seen it used to describe the community mothers feel in helping one another with their children, and I’ve heard it used nefariously against that same community (assuming that one mother knows best. . .as that mindset posed by Dr. Rosemary Stein.
It first came into mother and childcare worker vernacular, I suppose, when Hillary Clinton used it in her book title: It Takes a Village: And Other Lessons Children Teach Us (1996). That’s the year before I started graduate school for certification in music education, and I remember reading the book and referencing it in at least one paper I wrote.
There are many speculations about the origin of the phrase.
For me, today, in this post it serves to show that children will often create a village through their creative projects. That is, by enabling creative projects with them in a group setting, we foster community in an organic way.
Recently when hired to do a lesson related to the season of Advent with an Episcopal children’s music program, I decided to let them create crowns with paper and foam supplies (not at all hard to come by). Clearly in a Christian church setting, the notion of a crown is for the birthday boy, and the concept of a kingdom tied to the Trinity enfolds.
But crowns can be a theme in almost any learning setting. Most every culture has had a history of monarch rule. History lessons can be figurative in accompaniment of creative learning projects. . .that is to say, you don’t have to tread into the weeds of contention on varying views of historical worth. Consider the games where crowns come in. . .chess, checkers or the history of the crown jewels in London.
Contemplative song-writing in popular media has not escaped the notion of the crown either, so even with a high school English class, you could do some art journaling on the concept of the crown. And don’t forget . .and the notion of who wears the crown in this American culture.
From a simple project for young children, all the way on up to young adult, the concept of the crown opens doors to a myriad of in depth subjects. Tis the season. . . why not explore it in as much depth as you can?
While Scissors and Glue is mostly focused on resources that engender creative learning, it is important to remember those abstract aspects that create depth in any effort. Just as “creative processes” can accompany any subject matter in teaching and learning (not just art class), so too can music ignite the spark all children need in their growth and development. Check it out here.