Children need to be interested and engaged in order to learn effectively. They need to opportunity to actively work through their ideas, manipulating objects, having conversations, and playing. Very few of us learn by waiting for others to recite or read or just listening to someone lecture. Very few of us get excited and become engaged completing worksheets that “drill and kill.” I don’t know where the following quote originated (I’m thinking it might have been Comenius, a teacher, educator, and writer in the 15th century): “Too often education is giving children answers to questions that they haven’t asked yet.” We need to create opportunities for children to be active in their learning, helping them to ask the questions and facilitating their finding the answers.
The picture above shows students working on a Marshmallow and Spaghetti Tower, a creative activity for developing collaboration. The goal is to build a spaghetti tower that will withstand a marshmallow with only one yard of string and one year tape, in 18 minutes. I use this activity one the first day of class in one of the courses I teach. It helps the students to experience collaboration, creativity and getting to know each other, in a fun and active way.
Not all groups experience success, but a great time is had by all.