There are several miraculous things that came out of this exercise for me as a teacher.
First, ALL of my students actually tried something. They did not protest or sit there staring at materials unmoved. Instead they took a leap of faith and went for it. They had no plans, but despite that, they used the materials in all different ways and in most cases feverishly came up with something interesting using not the nicest of materials.
Another miraculous thing was that every single piece was different.
After the timer went off, we went around the room looking at all of the work that was made. Many students mentioned that they drew from prior knowledge to help them make their work. They already knew how to create origami, or sew, or they always obsessively draw a certain thing... and they started from there. Other students saw something in the material that guided them; a fold in the cardboard that when looked at suggested they make a house. I went around the room and asked specific students to describe how they got the idea for what they made, as well as what their process was like to make it. They openly shared this information with the group (also miraculous!). In conversation, I pointed out how their diverse processes and approaches directly mirror all artists' processes and choices when they make things.
|This student was able to express his interest in architecture.|
|This student drew a familiar image that he had previously created in fabric.|
|A student "sews" using yarn and poked holes.|
|This student is wrapping yarn around an "A" made of cardboard.|
|This student is creating origami based on prior knowledge and skills.|
|"The yarn reminded me of hair, and that made me think about a horse or unicorn."|