I received some new consumables and a few of my students saw the empty boxes and eagerly asked if they could have the boxes. I put out a few boxes and some students created while others glanced across the room. We took this as a spark and initiated a box inquiry. We gathered 70 boxes of varying sizes. We read Not a Box by Antoinette and a shared reading text about boxes. Over the week we looked at box creations and played the it’s not a scarf game. We talked about how our imagination can create things from objects.
Mid week, we provided small empty calculator boxes to each child and asked them to create something from the box. They had two things that must be done. One, make a plan and follow it. Two, do their best to cover up any letters or numbers on the box. Otherwise it was free choice. Why the restrictions? We had some goals for the learners. We wanted them to begin planning and sticking to a plan. A few students saw what others were doing and abandoned their plans. Others got so involved in the materials that they lost track of their initial plan. We observed and prompted what did you plan? What was missing from your plan? What would you add next time you plan?
One of our key learners as educators was some of our students did not understand fasteners. A few wrapped fabric around their boxes and said, “done.” They were surprised when they lifted it and the fabric fell off. The seniors in the room explained that they needed some fasteners. This lead into a lesson on the importance of fasteners and how different things like glue and tape didn’t work for specific projects. A few students were trying to glue wooden wheels to their boxes. A few knew they had to wait for the glue to dry before they continue working, others found ways around it. Elastics were requested and used to hold the wheels and axels in place.
The purpose of us as educators was to provide an opportunity for students to state problems as they arise and observe as the students tried different ways to solve the problem. Problems such as how do you cut into cardboard? How to attach pieces? Why is the tape bunched up? Do I use glue, tape or a stapler? How do I measure the paper to fit the box? We observed and promoted as necessary and each child felt successful.
Last night your child proudly brought home their creations. As you look at the boxes, you could ask your child to tell you about their plan. Ask them what worked well. Ask what they had trouble with and what they did to solve the problem. As you look at the box, remember it’s not a box, it’s your child’s culmination of their thinking and learning from the week.
Grab a few boxes and have some fun with your family this weekend. Make a plan together and talk while you create something. Send us photos, we would love to see and hear about your learning as a family.