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Wednesday, July 9, 2014

An Invigorating Week At Creativity Camp

Lessons Learned

Creativity Camp

Woo hoo! Three and a half hours each morning with first and second graders for a full week with the goal of “creating” things sounded like an awesome adventure to me; an arts integration enthusiast and specialist.  Because creativity requires one to see something new or perhaps to see a new possibility for something that is not new, I thought it best to begin with ordinary, familiar items and use them as our diving board into the lovely pool of imagination. We need to imagine to create. So out came the tinfoil, duct tape, pipe cleaners, burlap potato sacks, popsicle sticks, tissue paper, glue, pony beads, wooden beads, shoe laces, yarn, 64 crayons, empty plastic coffee canisters,  small clear glass vases, thin-wired coat hangers, polar fleece, and at least one hundred brown paper bags, and with that outstanding imagination-tickling assortment of tools, we began. Weaving was a great place to begin and paper weaving was easy, quick, and looked excellent without hours of practice. We handily graduated to weaving through burlap with pipe cleaners, feathers and yarn, and a shoe lace. Our creations were exciting, unique, and brought gleeful smiles of pride. After reading a Native American folk tale, we created friendship necklaces; one to keep and one to share. Our final activity the first day was to create tinfoil sculptures; anything each student wanted to make, but it needed to be accompanied with a clear verbal description and presentation to the class. I, then, ask each of them to make a canoe sculpture reminiscent of the one in the story we read. The homework assigned them was to float their canoes in the sink or bathtub at their homes. Hours flew and smiles never left. Day after day, project after project, story after story, we imagined and we created, all interspersed with lively ongoing conversation and an occasional nature walk outside in search of twigs or leaves or small stones on the ground for use In future projects. We played. We laughed. We exercised our imaginations. We learned new stories about new characters. We learned about and experimented with new art forms by recycling and rejuvenating ordinary, familiar items. We created something brand new from something that had always been there. We needed no kits nor step-by-step directions, for our imaginations led the way. Creativity Camp was a beautiful opportunity for the brilliant imaginations of children to romp happily and fully free, unrestrained by the highly structured, highly scheduled lockstep that is frequently life when it is not summer vacation.  Why couldn’t Creativity Camp be a regular part of an academic curriculum? The benefits would surely ripple infinitely through young hearts and lives.