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Creativity - discuss!


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Hi!

Just like to hear other's views on creativity/fluffy duck syndrome etc.

Over the last few weeks for key groups times, one of our activities has been EAD based. We wanted to introduce children to other ways of joining (other than glue and sellotape). So, 1 week they have used split pins to make a simple puppet and the following week they used treasury tags to make a door decoration. Since doing these activities, many children have been experimenting with both split pins and treasury tags - being 'creative' with them. I am very much an ant-fluffy duck person but do sometimes do these sorts of activities to introduce a particular skill. And, particularly with these last 2 activities have really seen the benefit.

My staff have been looking at Christmas 'craft' which is quite 'fluffy duck' and my immediate reactions was 'no'. However, is it all bad? None of my staff would stop them adding their own ideas.

What do you think?

Green Hippo x

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It depends on the activity , I'm not fluffy duck but there are times when it is good for children to try and recreate something as this can help with shape recognition and design , ability to copy but without it being processed , hope you get my meaning.

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I give into FD's a couple of times per year, Christmas and Mothers Day. I give as much choice within the activities as possible and whilst all children take something home, they don't all take the same thing home, that is unless they want to make a similar thing to their friend.

 

Sounds like what you have done with the other ways of sticking things together has worked so well, maybe you could challenge them to make something of their own design in which they use those types of fixings, give the children just a few resources to chose from to create with so they are not overpowered with choice and see what they come up with.

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I'm really pleased with these activities as it has introduced them to these resources which have always been available but they hadn't really discovered them yet apart from a few creative individuals. By showing them how to use them, they are now choosing them and using them in a range of ways to create their own master pieces with no or little adult input!

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As you say, skills need to be taught.

We do quite a lot of 'abstract' joining while they master the techniques, then children can make informed choices based on real experience about their joining techniques - though I do have a mad-keen carpenter who is very clear that everything is best nailed together, even his paper chain today!!

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All great artists were at some time taught how to use materials....is that not what you are doing? the creative interpretation comes later if given the opportunity!

To coin a phrase "You don't know what you don't know". If we do not engage children in some collaborative learning experiences how will we help them broaden their skills base. Echoing finleysmaid's post, this is an extract from Inc. discussing Michael Gelb's book 7 Things Leonardo da Vinci can teach you about creativity
It's not uncreative to get ideas from other people, in fact that's where most come from.
"It's a myth to think that you have to spontaneously create something that's entirely original and no one ever thought of it before. That very rarely, if ever, happens. Almost all ideas are inspired by somebody else's idea," Gelb says. "One of the big principles of creativity is you don't have to reinvent the wheel you just give it a new spin. So if you can give a new spin to somebody else's idea you've done something creative."
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I agree, there is a time and a place. Children need to be taught skills and shown different ways of doing things, they also need to be given the opportunities to do things and if that means adult direction, then that is appropriate.

As you have shown, the children had access to the split pins and treasury tags but it wasnt until you showed them how to use them that they chose to do so. Without your input, they would still be unused.

I also think that it is appropriate to send something home sometimes that will be recognised and valued for what it is, you can still allow children to be independent within their fluffy duck experience. So a Chrsitmas card that is recognisable as such may be more valuable than a creation that is not and thereby benefit the childs self esteem.

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I sometimes think of creativity as knowing the 'rules' and making choices about how or when to break them. Great scientists, engineers, authors, artists, actors etc are often great because they wonder 'what if...?' And try something different but if you don't know what the existing possibilities are how can you try? If you've never used or seen a split pin before (and lots of people haven't) how can you even have a sense of what it can do? Often a role of showing the possibilities may be taken by a child but if you don't have one who does that then an adult can take that role. It may be a direct 'showing' or it may simply be sat doing your own thing and talking your thoughts through aloud so they start to realise there is a process going on. Which reminds me I desperately need to do this with a bit of box modelling. Mine love sticking them together and a new stash disappears within minutes but they are just stuck together and it doesn't seem to have occurred to any of them that the boxes could represent something else!

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Like Panders I give in to the FD's a little a couple of times a year (often to make Christmas cards \ calendars or mothers day items) but make a point of then ensuring that whatever they used to make the aforementioned (usually Christmas) craft project is then available for them to adapt and go their own way with.

Regarding your example of the split pins, I guess in my ideal world I would have the resources available and show them an example of something that is joined using a split pin and then support them if they want to try using them to join materials in *something* they make rather than say "everyone is going to make... using this template." But I think from your example you can clearly see that the activities you have done were the beginning of a wider learning experience where your craft was the stimulus and facilitated the process of exploring and joining in new ways which has carried on long after the initial activity - and therein lies the true value and learning. It sounds successful to me :)

 

Mel

x

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Absolutely, Melcatfish, in an ideal world we would have these resources available and add enhancements that encourage children to have a go with adults supporting this. However, there are always children who (despite following their interests) that don't naturally choose these types of activities but they still have an entitlement to learn the skills. I very rarely do these 'template' type activities but made sure that there was an element of choice to be had and that it also followed the children's chosen topic of 'dragons and fairies'. Every child was extremely excited to show me their finished article and this has resulted in the children having the knowledge and confidence to create their own pieces. Like others have said, if children are not aware of what is possible then many will not know where to begin! When I think back to new skills that I have learnt, I have always followed someone else's idea/template first to learn the skills required and this is allowed me to have the confidence to then develop my own ideas.

With things like Christmas/Mother's Day type craft, We do a little bit but I do think they are important, not so much as a creative activity but to teach about traditions, giving cards and gifts etc. We do allow and encourage choice and individuality as well as resources for children to make their own.

Thanks for your replies, I love a good discussion. Glad to hear that others feel the same.

Green Hippo x

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I think the element of choice is an important one - stops the rows of identical makes. It's also important to remember what the objective you're trying to teach is - for example I have done cutting out for children before if they've been really struggling and the focus has been on joining techniques (and then provided the opportunities for them to develop cutting skills in other ways). I sometimes do it in maths for my Y1s - of course, they need lots of practice at writing the numbers down but if the focus is on calculation strategies then there are times when I will write the number sentences for the very slow writers so that they will have time to show me just how brilliant they are at maths!

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