For some students, thinking creatively and out-of-the-box comes naturally. For others, modeling is needed in the beginning. With practice, all your students can train their brains to think creatively and see things in a different way.
If you follow my blog, you have read about my V-8 moments in teaching. Do you remember the old commercials where the actor is drinking something and then sees V-8 and bangs his/her head and says, “I should have had a V-8” because it is a better (more nutritious) drink. In teaching, I have been doing teaching something one way, and then read about or think of a better way and then feel like I want to bang my head, too. Divergent thinking is one of my V-8 moments.
A few years ago, I had a student that struggled with letter identification when I was teaching kindergarten. None of the traditional methods were effective with him. One rainy day, I made a die cut letter for each of my students of the letter we were studying that week. I told them to arrange the letter on their paper however they wanted and then make it into something. They could flip it, turn it in any directions, and move it so that it could turn into something new. They would then complete the sentence, “This used to be the letter__ , but now it is ____.” We were studying the letter J at the time. Some students made their letter into the runners of a sled; others made it into a cane that their Grandpa used. The boy who had trouble learning his letters created an elaborate picture showing the letter J holding up his trampoline. A light was switched on in his mind. He could make pictures in his mind of the letters and remember the name of the letters because of the pictures. After this experience, I made pictures with die-cut letters a standard center.
Divergent thinking is often thought of as a skill that is incorporated in gifted and talented or art curriculum. I think this skill should be incorporated in our lessons and used with all students. My experience began with a simple rainy day activity and turned into a low prep, effective literacy center. This divergent thinking activity was able to reach my student when traditional methods weren’t.
As you can tell from my example, these types of activities do not have to add to your already full schedule. It can be used as a fun inside recess activity, Friday Fun Day activity, or let it be a group or partner activity after your students know the format of the lessons included with this packet.
I realize that you may not always have time or access to a die-cut machine. So, I made some winter themed activities that you can incorporate into your day, even if you have a jam-packed day.
My new Brain Trainer: Winter Fun packet includes 15 “It used to be a (winter graphic), now it is a ___” activities. The sign in the picture above is included. There is a colorful and black and white version of the sign.
Set this up as a morning check in. Hang one of these signs on white board or chart tablet paper. Students will write their answer when they arrive. You can also use it as a way to take attendance.
You can also use the signs for partner or small group work.
There are word cards and worksheets, too. Use the worksheets for seat work, homework, morning work, or set them up as a center.
Does your class have a wide range of abilities this year? There are extension cards included so you can differentiate this activity.