Creativity Lesson: Life Must Be Lived As Play!

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*This lesson coincides with section 5, play is frivolous, from A Whack on the Side of the Head by Roger von Oech.

Lesson written by: Dori Draper and Evie Williams

Grade level range:   2nd-3rd grade

Length of time to teach lesson: 8 minutes

“What, then, is the right way of living?

Life must be lived as play.”

                               --Plato, Philosopher


We get ideas from of necessity and play.  Creative ideas come from manipulating resources and constraints.

Overview of lesson:  People learn in to ways through play or out of necessity.  As we are learning a concept, we need to take breaks.  It is better to walk away for a bit, than to stay with something and get nothing done.
Objectives (Learning targets) of this lesson:  I will experience the three phases of idea creation through a lesson on using addition based on place value.

  Phases:       Conception

                    Add a Restraint





                    Pause for a Bit

Resources/supplies/handouts needed to teach this lesson:  3-4 packs of different color post-its, graph paper, pencils

Step-by-step teaching instructions for the lesson.  

1)  The students are given 3 to 4 colors of 3 inch square post-its and a large poster that’s been divided into 3x3 squares. They are directed to create a picture using the post-its on the large paper.
2)  Once their picture is created, explain that the first phase of idea creation is conception. Conception occurs in response to necessity and/or play. Give the participants about 10 seconds to determine if their idea came from necessity or play.
3)  Ask the participants if the supplied post-its and grid, time or space affected the picture they chose to create.  These are constrictions and this is the second phase of idea conception. 
4)  Have participants determine the numerical value of the post-its they used. Each color post-it has a determined value.  For example pink is worth 1,000, yellow is worth 100, blue is worth 10, and light blue is worth 1.
5)  Direct the students to make an addition equation that equals the value of the post-its.
6)  Inform the students that they will now create 3 equations using an operation other than addition (multiplication, subtraction, division) that equals the same amount as their post-it value.  Once they begin to generate ideas, interrupt them and give them each a small amount of play dough.  Tell them they have 30 seconds to create an animal out of the play dough.
7)  After 30 seconds is up, collect the play dough and explain that this break was the third phase of idea creation. It’s called “taking a pause”. Explain that when we are creating, our brain might stall or become overloaded.  Taking a pause allows our subconscious to continue working on creation while we do something else. Play! Take a walk. Have a nap.
8)  Allow the students to create the three equations they were previously asked to do.
9)  Quick review of the three phases of idea creation stressing the importance of play in innovation!






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