I have used this great ‘kid tested’ thinking activity for years and it never fails to excite a child’s sense of imagination. Plus, it provides countless possibilities for using and building up imaginative and creative thinking skills.
You start by asking a question like: “If you were a person no bigger than your thumb, what could you use a shoebox for?” Some of the answers that I have gotten in the past were, “I would use it to make a bedroom. I could make a car with it. I would make a look-out tower so my cat couldn’t sneak up on me.” After you have explored several options for the shoebox, you could change the item to be used to: a flower, a hamster ball, some Legos, a pencil, a rock or some string.
Sometimes your children may need a ‘jump start’ to begin the imagining process and it helps if they can hold their thumb up to the actual item that you’re talking about (i.e. a shoebox or a flower). This will visually spark their imaginations into action. Once your children get the hang of it – watch out – you’re in for some crazy, silly answers; but then, isn’t that the fun of it?
A great extension for this activity would be to actually take a shoebox, and have your children design and create a place for the imaginary ‘thumb high’ person to live. Encourage them to make some of their own props (out of clay, blocks, paper, etc.) and then to use any other articles that they might find from inside and outside your home. This activity will take the skill of imagination to a whole new level, because your child is now designing and creating a finished product that is a new invention.
Here are some other examples of “If You Were” questions:
- If you were a mouse, what could you use a stick for?
- If you were stranded on an island, what could you use a leaky boat for?
- If you were a monkey, what could you use an umbrella for?
If you come up with some other creative “If You Were” questions, please share them below or on Miss B.’s Facebook page! Have fun while you “think…imagine…create”.
I’d like to briefly explain the two main types of thinking skills, critical and creative, so that you will understand what I’m meaning when they are mentioned in posts here on Miss B.’s Classroom. As a retired gifted and talented teacher, I found that all children who develop both types of thinking skills became the more well-rounded learners.
Critical thinking skills train your children to focus in on what they know and understand, in order to evaluate and solve a specific problem that’s been given to them. Most of the subjects that are taught during a child’s education emphasize the skills found in the critical thinking areas. Critical thinking is a very essential part of the thinking process; but, it is only a fraction of the skills your children will need if they are to become effective, productive and life-long learners.
My ‘Top 10 List’ of critical thinking skills would be: hypothesize, interpret, evaluate, compare, classify, identify, judge, analyze, summarize, and problem-solve.
On the other hand, creative thinking skills will help your children learn how to develop many original ideas and make oodles of imaginative discoveries and inventions. These skills will enable your children to move in new directions in their thought processes, so that they’ll be able to come up with unique and inventive ways to solve their own problems.
My ‘Top 10 List’ of creative thinking skills would be: imagine, create, perform, elaborate, design, invent, construct, develop, transform, and perceive.
Most of the activities shared in Miss B.’s Classroom will concentrate on the creative thinking skills; because, I believe that every child wants to “think…imagine…create”.
P.S. I LOVE doing research about thinking skills! Do you have a different ‘Top 10 List’ than mine? If so, let me know what YOUR favorites are!
Do you realize how important TIME is in the creative thinking process? Sometimes, when we’re interacting with our children, we assume that they should be able to give an answer to our questions in just seconds or minutes. Without meaning to, we try to hurry up their thinking process. We sometimes forget to let our children have those fascinating conversations with their own brains. Our world today is so full of fast-paced activities, that it’s really hard to TAKE the time to just slow down and allow our children the joy of thinking. This is one of the most important things that you as parents can model, teach, and encourage your children to do: take the time to think.
This is an easy exercise that will help you to recognize how many different processes there are, and how much time it takes, for your brain to solve a simple problem. In essence, try to think about what you are thinking about!
Here is a question for you to consider: What are you doing for dinner next Saturday?
I can imagine the conversation you are having with your brain . . . “What do we have on the calendar next Saturday? I wish I could remember what time the game is. I wonder what the weather will be like? Will it just be the family or should we invite some friends? Hmmm . . . Do I want to make things simple and easy? I wonder if I’ve got a recipe on my Pinterest board for an appetizer. I’ll probably need to go to the store. Maybe we can just barbecue chicken and do a salad. I’m going to call and see if Ray and Anne could make it at 5:30.” (And so on, and so on, the thinking process goes!)
How much time did that take for you to go through the process of thinking about next Saturday’s dinner? There was a lot to consider wasn’t there? It would have been difficult for you to have had to ’hurry up’ your thinking process. Now, consider the questions that you ask your children throughout the day. Do you allow them enough time for simply thinking through the conversations going on in their heads?
While you are having fun with the activities from Miss B.’s Classroom, remember that you are helping your children succeed when you give them the time that it takes to think…imagine…create!
This creative thinking activity is pure fun for the whole family. It won’t cost you a penny and takes absolutely no time to prepare! With just a few minutes a day, you’ll be helping your children experience the excitement of brainstorming and creative thinking. Another great benefit to you, is that this activity can be used anytime, anywhere, or anyplace. It truly helps you turn wasted minutes into thinking ones.
You begin by coming up with a single characteristic, such as a color, shape or texture. Then you ask:
“How many things can you think of that are red?” (Other characteristics might be: small, round, slimy, stripped or sour.)
Now you and your children will begin the fun of thinking out loud. (Later, to get the creative juices flowing even more, add a pair of characteristics such as: green & eatable, fast & furry, soft & cuddly.)
Of course, you can continue to increase the difficulty level of this activity by simply adding another characteristic or two. (This depends on the ages and interests of your children.) Questions for school age children might even come from their science books, such as: ’How many things can you think of that are brown, have four legs & are carnivorous? How many things can you think of that crawl, bite & have an exoskeleton?’
Here are a few tips that might help:
- start simple
- encourage many different responses – giggles are welcomed and encouraged!
- you are also brainstorming and giving answers right along with your children
- let each child come up with their own characteristics
- think… imagine… create!
The skill of imagination can turn even the simplest and most routine moments of your day, into fun filled and exciting ones. This is the easiest type of thinking skill to teach, because your child already knows the basics. How many times have you thought, “I don’t know where he came up with that?” Or wondered, while you were watching her play, “Who taught her that new game?” Imagination is the ability to think beyond the limits of normal ideas, answers, or solutions and to find unique perspectives and original inventions.
The activities that you will find on Miss B.’s Classroom are suitable and adaptable for children of all ages and abilities. They’ll open up some amazing new horizons for their imaginations to explore. There are no right or wrong answers to worry about when practicing the thinking skill of imagination. So, just sit back, relax and enjoy the journey watching your children “think…imagine…create”.