Seeing with your imagination:

Activity Three: What can it be?

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What can it be?

This is what people in the field of creativity call an “open-ended problem.” That is, it’s a project that doesn’t have just one right answer. In fact, there are limitless possibilities. If your child is unfamiliar with the uncharted territory of open-ended problems, you may want to help him get started thinking creatively as you do this exercise.

What you’ll need -- five objects which can be used to construct something. They should be disposable items. For instance, we decided to use...

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main article
historical examples

Cloud shapes
Seeing double

DaVinci's Doodles
• What can it be?

• a cardboard tube
• an envelope
• a straw
• a plastic egg
• a cap from an orange juice carton

Feel free to come up with your own list. Try to have a variety of shapes, as well as things that can be manipulated. We also decided to have available scissors, tape and a couple markers.

You’ve got your pile of stuff. Now ask the question: What can it be?

Begin to imagine. Brainstorm possibilities. Discuss it together. Put things together and ask what it looks like. Let your mind see the range of combinations possible. I sat down with my kids one lazy afternoon and here are our solutions.

The Legendary Hopping Bird. I’m told that when it gets angry, it doesn’t just get a little mad – it gets hopping mad!

Bugzilla. He has no fear of flyswatters.

Amazing Duck Man

and, finally…

a flower!

Part of the great fun of any open-ended activities is enjoying the range of solutions. It’s so valuable for kids (and adults!) to see that with the imagination, there isn’t just one right answer.

all material ©2003 Bruce Van Patter