The last days of our school year are busy. Crazy busy. I wanted to build in opportunities for creativity and non-traditional thinking while still addressing standards, so I introduced the Recycled Invention Project. The challenge was for students to look around their homes for items that might otherwise be thrown out or recycled, and dream up creative ways that those items could be used. The goal was to create something useful…something that accomplished a goal of some sort. Students were told that their projects could look nice, but it’s not an art project. It was great seeing the broad range of responses when students were first told about the project. Some were instantly excited and inspired. Others were confused or frustrated with uncertainty. Over the course of a couple of weeks, the projects began to take shape at the students’ homes. This week, the students are presenting their projects. From the photos below, you can see that we’ve had a very wide range of creative inventiveness. Solar-powered s’mores makers, musical instruments, items for carrying things, new methods of watering plants, and many other marvels of design and engineering have been introduced in our classroom. This project – and the students’ enthusiasm – reminds me how important making things is in the process of learning. Collections of information and facts are important, but applying our learning and discovering things along the way is powerful. This has been my first year as a 3rd grade teacher. I wasn’t sure what my students were capable of, but they’ve impressed me again and again and again. I have no doubt that their inventiveness and knack for seeing things in an unconventional manner will serve them very well in their lives.                       Examples.