Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Joys of Scrap Paper

A few years back, I had a Destination Imagination team that was made up of all Kindergartners.  At competition, their instant challenge consisted of cutting out pieces of dinosaur body parts from tagboard and making new dinosaurs. After their creation time, they had to create a play about their new dinosaurs.  When time was called and the play needed to begin, one of the partnerships did not have a new dinosaur created. The other kids began the play and used their new dino puppets.  One of the girls who was unable to complete her new dino grabbed a scrap piece of paper from the floor and started using it as a puppet to engage in the play.  It was a oval that was cut out and she used the edges as a mouth chomping up and down as she spoke. Then another boy grabbed a scrap and joined in.  It was so great to see the lack of barriers to their creativity.  Though they were not successful with the ideal outcome of having a new dinosaur created, they were successful in joining in on the performance.  A scrap of paper became a character to brought to life with a splash of imagination and the ability to take a risk! This has stuck with me for many years, as it was an example of raw creativity.

Today, my class was cutting out circles for our math lesson on mixed numbers.  They had a strip of paper with 4 circles that had to be cut out.  When I saw the pile of scraps in my recycling bin, I was reminded of the DI experience. Since it was also Earth Day, I decided it was the perfect day to have fun with the scraps. After lunch, I told the kids the story about the dino play, and I told them that they were going to have 15 minutes to play with a piece of scrap paper.  We discussed the many ways play could be addressed, from puppets to art work to origami and more! I was curious if anything would be different with 8-9 year olds.  Would they be able to see the opportunities in a small scrap of paper?

I ended up extending the time a bit, as my room became full of imagination, joy, and innocence.  The play I witnessed reminded me of the days observing preschool rooms, yet with a hint of sophistication, as many of the students were using their devices to create videos.  I was reminded of the hearts and minds in all of our students and the spirit of childhood within each of them.  They had a blast either playing with their 1 scrap of paper or collaborating with others. We had videos, live performances, and art work shared. One boy even created a soccer game with his scrap.  We will be doing this again, as it was a hit.  Not only did they have a bit of time to discover the possibilities of a simple object, but they also discovered that expensive material objects are not always the ultimate in entertainment.  I videoed some of the activity, and I encourage you to see the joys that a scrap of paper can bring to children!

(If you are curious to hear the reflections from the students, they begin at 3:35.)

Creativity is part of my soul, and I am always striving for ways to integrate it into my classroom.  To get a peek into the other things Team Bond and I are doing, please check out my website: Cheers to Creativity and Innovation! 


  1. I loved reading this post and watching the video. The joy and laughter was music to my soul. Every class should sound like this on a daily basis. Great way to scaffold from one lesson into another. I loved how you tied your math and science (the two subjects I teach my 4th graders) together and incorporated a current event (Earth Day) into the mix as well.

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