Posted by on August 11, 2015

PUSH Pins at one of our after-school programs.

Creature Creations

Book for inspiration: Where the Wild Things Are, by Maurice Sendak

Intermediate Exercise for Ages 7 and through adult

PUSH Pins Problem Solving Challenge:

After a training workshop, students are asked to,

“Safely, create a connected, 4 person creature. It must locomote. Name this creature.”

Check List:

1. Use everyone.

2. Keep each other safe.

3. Make it move in some way.

4. Decide on a name.

Pictured is one of many ideas students come up with. They own their part as a puzzle solver, and are proud to show their solutions. Students have many ‘ah-ha’ moments during the process, regarding friendships, trust, support, respect, responsibility…so be sure to have a short debrief for students to verbalize their discoveries. This can easily be tied into a writing prompt or a series of journal entries. Also does well supporting Character Development curriculum. One of my favorite observations on this one, is that the student in the back, visually, is an extra pair of creature legs, but mechanically, she is positioned there for safety, in case the tower falls backwards. So they figured out a structural solution that worked visually and mechanically, as well as thought about a Plan B. ha ha. I love Plan B. Even if I don’t need to use it, it’s good to know it’s there.

Development Questions to continue in the building process:

1. What other ways can your creature locomote? Forward, yes. Can it go backwards? Side to side?

2. Can you make this creature larger with your bodies? More stretched in certain areas?

3. If this creature made a noise, what would it sound like?

4. What does the creature’s facial expression look like? If you are not the face, but a tail or a back, can you tuck your face in or have a ‘neutral’ face? Or is this a 2 headed or 4 headed creature?

5. Try to smoothly transition into the shape of the creature and smoothly melt out of it, back to four separate people.

 Follow up: You can have a workshopping time again and sharing time with the improvements. Have the viewing students reflect what was more effective this time. If time is short, instead of repeating the exercise and having them reshow, mention the above as questions to ask yourself in art, writing or science hypothesis and testing. ‘Have I tried all possibilities? What is the best answer or creative decision?’

Altenative Exercise: Same instructions, just state (before they workshop their ideas) ‘no sitting or standing on shoulders’. Students will tend to choose positions lower to the floor.

Please note: When teams of children or teens are creating work, instructors are spotting them, in case of a fall. We have fun in our classes, but the students are reminded to stay responsible and focused for the safety of their group. Group Juggling is a great way to teach some of the principles of partner work.

(photo: student work, PUSH Pins)