Tag Archives: creativity

Jump Start Creative Thinking with Brainteasers!

In many classrooms, the day begins with “Morning Work,” an assigned activity to kick start the day.  I don’t know about you, but “Morning Work” doesn’t sound like a particularly exciting way to dive into the day.  Think about tweaking your terminology and see the response you get when “work” time is transformed into a Thinker’s Paradise!

Looking for ways to ignite your students’ minds in the morning?  Get their brains in gear with a fun brainteaser challenge!  Here’s a great example that would work well for a 4th Grade classroom:

Stacking the Dice Puzzle

Suppose seven dice are stacked as shown, and you can see all the exposed faces, including the Back view shown in the upper right corner.  Find the sum of the pips (black dots) on the hidden faces of the dice.

Bonus fun fact: The dots on a die are officially called “pips”

Want more?  Here is a fantastic collection of brainteasers sorted by grade that work well as solo or collaborative warm-up exercises in the classroom!  Once your students have completed several, have them create their own modified versions and challenge one another!

How do YOUR students begin their day in the classroom?  What do you call this time?  Please share your ideas by commenting here!

Arts in Education Week: Celebrate Creativity in the Classroom!

It’s rarely a tough sell to convince parents and teachers that our kids need more exposure to the arts, but the  past several years has seen these valuable programs all but disappear in many schools.   Which makes it all the more encouraging to learn that this past July, the U.S. House of Representatives passed Resolution 275 establishing this week, September 12-18, 2010, as the first annual Arts in Education Week across the country!

This resolution recognizes the critical connection between the arts, education, imagination, and 21st-century economic success, and declares that, “arts education… is a core academic subject and an essential element of a complete and balanced education for all students.”

Recently, the US fell out of the top 10 in Newsweek’s 100 best countries, and related studies show this decline as particularly significant in the realm of education.  Interestingly, this happens as countries like China and Singapore are gradually moving away from rote learning, fearing that their pupils are not being adequately prepared to tackle new 21st century challenges.   As these systems explore ways to develop critical thinking in the classroom, many feel US schools are reverting toward these traditional “drill-and-kill” model as other counties are backing away.

Fear is a powerful motivator, and fear that the next generation of US thinkers are ill-equipped to compete in the 21st century was arguably the driving force behind this Resolution, which states, “as the Nation works to strengthen its foothold in the 21st century global economy, the arts equip students with a creative, competitive edge.”

Whatever the impetus for this kick-in-the-pants focus on the arts, if it means more creativity, imagination, and problem solving in schools, I’ll take it!

While celebrating “the Arts” is a wonderful message, a week during the school year is a drop in the bucket as far as real, meaningful change is concerned.  Instead, view this week as a kick start to draw attention to arts education in our schools, building momentum for the school year.  This national movement has the potential to produce impactful results at the local level!

Is your school doing enough?  Here are some ways to get involved in your own community!