Thinking “Inside” the Box

12 01 2013

Today I have the most wonderful reminder of the depth of childrens imagination and creativity.

I woke up this morning in a panic because following an arduous first week back at school following Christmas I was totally unprepared for my part time job. As I have had my Saturday job teaching at a Theatre school for 8 years now it is often difficult to find inspiration and new material. There isnt a particularly high turn around and many children stay with us for years so I cannot simply repeat the same material each year. There are several children who I have taught since I started so I am constantly having to come up with new themes and topics and new ways of delivering my lessons. Also due to the nature of my main job I have significantly less time to plan lessons than when I first started working there and preparing resources to support my lessons is always a last minute thing.

In my panc I stumbled across a lovely and simple lesson which I adapted and it went down a storm with every child from the 6 year olds to the 16 years olds.

1/ I recapped last weeks lesson when we completed activities based on New Year Resolutions. The children shared their own resolutions and talked about resolutions their parents had made. I talked about my own “Imagined” resolution to decorate my flat.

2/ We discussed the fact that Drama has to be about something and a good starting point is thinking about the setting. I linked this to a game my husband found for me that I play on my phone “Cut the Rope”

3/ Just like the character Om Nom in the phone app, the students had to find a space, close their eyes and imagine they were living in a box – the type of box was up to them. Some chose examples from the game – (valentines box, magic box, gift box, spooky box) while others came up with their own ideas – (shoe box, memories box, cheese box).

4/ Keeping their eyes closed they picked up an imaginary paint brush and magic paint. The paint could change colour at will and could contain glitter and have patterns such as tarten, spots and stripes. They had to decorat their box on all 6 sides from the inside before painting a magic door (wood, beaded curtain, plastic) with a handle and device for locking it to keep it secure.

5/ Students had to provide a key word to describe how they felt when they were inside the box and how they felt about leaving it before venturing outside to decorate the outside.

6/ Students were paired and had to show their box to their partner describing it in detail.

7/ Individual students carried their box DSC and described it to the entire class and answered questions in character to their peers.

8/ Older students had an extension task of working in a group of four to create their own live version of a phone app game in which they had to have a clear objective and invent an obstical to overcome.

The responses were outstanding. One creative pair came up with a game involving breaking into a safe but they had a time limit and had to answer maths questions or logic puzzles to unlock the combination. Another child spoke at length about the different types of cheese used to create his “cheese box” with hard cheeses lining the walls and softer cheeses used to create cushions and his difficulty in keeping mice from nibbling their way into his home.

This week in school I have spent large amounts of time filling in forms, attending meetings and ticking boxes that are supposed to make me a good teacher. I have worksheets and target cards coming out of my ears!!! What I loved about this experience was the reminder that a good lesson doesn’t need all the trappings Ofsted expect but what it must have is the ability to engage, motivate and challenge the children.

The seriousness with which they approached the task of “painting” their imaginary boxes and the pride with which they described the contents seriously impressed me not to mention the quality of the older students performances of their own phone app inspired Dramas.

It made me think that rather than constantly over complicating the process of inspiring young minds we should think inside the box, keep it simple and trust in the imagination and creativity of the next generation.

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