When I was a teacher of the talented and gifted we administered the Torrance Tests of Divergent Thinking as one of the admission tests. Points were given if kids expanded some basic squiggles into creative drawings. Kids loved the test and always wanted to do it over. IF they did take the test again, they probably would have done better. Why? Because after the test I had shown them how they scored Therefore, they learned how to score better the next time.
Talented and Gifted Admission: A Good Idea?
A Torrance retest would be a perfect example of learning, but could I use the results to test creativity? I’m not sure. The example showed that creativity is a skill can be developed. So, what about the kids who scored high on the original test? Was that inborn talent or had they had opportunities to develop their creativity prior to testing? Perhaps they had experiences that gave them the confidence to try different challenges where there was no right or wrong answers.
Bottom line is that parents can foster creativity in their kids. Fostering a child’s creativity through art and music is a common idea. However, creativity and problem solving can be seen in all areas.
10 Ways to Promote Creativity in Children
Give kids lots of unstructured playtime to let their imaginations be unlimited.
Provide resources to let them explore. (Ex. paper, pencils, boxes, old clothes for dress up, straws, newspapers, blocks, Legos) Let them look around and find things to use.
Give them flexibility to make choices and think of solutions.
Help them learn words associated with creativity by asking questions. Ex. What would happen if? What could you do with that? Any ideas that might be possibilities? Let’s think of possible solutions.
Applaud their creativity! Remembering that there is no right or wrong. Allowing kids to express themselves with acknowledgement helps to build confidence to try new things.
Allow them to make rules to a game. They’ll experience whether they work or not. When they don’t let them change them again. Problem solving at its best
The focus of creative activities should be on process: generating (vs. evaluating) new ideas.
Remind them it’s ok to make mistakes. You don’t want them to be afraid of failure. Adults make mistakes too!
Encourage divergent (different) thinking. I used to challenge all my first-grade classes to find 100 ways to melt a snowball. It was a struggle, but they always did it. Wow, those kids were creative!
Show kids creative ideas. In other words, something that will trigger “out of the box thinking”.
The photo attached to this post was taken by my husband on a golf outing. He thought it was unique and knew I would share it with some of my grandkids. But he didn’t know that I would use it as the focus photo of a post on creativity! Who would ever thinking of carving and painting a scene on a tree? So, maybe, you won’t paint on the next tree you see, but I bet you’ll think of this photo the next time you see an entwined tree trunk. Now, you’re being creative.
Thanks to Griffon Ramsey, for the creative inspiration from “Bad Day on the SS Normandie” (2017)
One of the groups that I volunteer with is the Poughkeepsie branch of the American Association of University Women (AAUW). One of our recent projects was to create a brochure about the importance of reading to babies. I’m happy to announce that the finished product, in both Spanish and English, is now available throughout Dutchess County in libraries and pediatrician offices. Thank you to the graphic designer, the translator and the Poughkeepsie Library System for all their efforts to complete the project. The information below is included in the brochure. Enjoy!
Reading to Young Children
Reading aloud to children from an early age is the best way to raise a child who enjoys reading and does well in school. Therefore, why not start with reading to babies!
Why Reading to Babies is Important
Your baby’s brain triples in size by age 3. The brain develops as your baby interacts with the world and learns new things.
Reading aloud exposes babies to the sounds of human speech and lays a foundation for learning to read.
By age two, children know between 300-500 words. Children who are spoken to and read frequently have larger vocabularies and develop into better readers. Therefore, let the talk begin!
Communication with your baby helps to make sense of the environment. Whether its smiling, laughing or talking, your baby is starting to realize the value of communication
As your baby’s first teacher, you can help nurture a language-rich environment.
As a building principal for many years, I had the pleasure of working with many classroom teachers and special area teachers. There was not a day that went by that I didn’t learn something from one of them! One group of teachers that I found to be an amazing source of information was the Speech Language Pathologists (SLPs). Our SLPs were exceptionally helpful in our school’s Response to Intervention (RTI) process. As part of our RTI process, they worked to find different ways to include language interventions to strengthen student skills. Collaborating with classroom teachers they were able to explain a child’s limitations based on testing and suggested interventions. Partnering with parents they explained test scores, program recommendations and shared progress reports.
Thank you, Holly and Connie!
The 2 sites below are good resources to support teachers, parents and caregivers looking for information on any speech concerns. Both are active sites with the Main Page having multiple links and search engines to ask specific questions.
The technique “use your words” encourages children to talk about their feelings. Being able to use words to describe what they are feeling gives children power over their feelings. Giving words to feelings can make them become a lot less overwhelming or upsetting or scary. The Use Your Words Learning Kit with Daniel Tiger is a FREE resource has many tips for parents and teachers for helping children learn to use their words to express how they are feeling. Great resource that kids will love!
Minute-Mysteries are stories that can be solved with close examination of the clues in the story.
Emily and Connall were playing checkers at GG’s house. They played 5 games. Each of them won the same number of games and there weren’t any ties. How could this happen?
John F. Kennedy, the 35th president of the United States, was the youngest person elected to the presidency. However, he was the second youngest man to hold the office? How could this be?
On Monday, the teacher asked Teaghan how old she would be on her next birthday. She answered that in two years she would be twice as old as she was five years ago. How old is Teaghan today?
A photographer went for a walk in the woods to take pictures of nature. That was the last time anyone saw her alive. Three days later she was found dead in the woods. The story says that she died because of a pack on her back. What was so deadly about the pack?
My knowledge of questioning was limited prior to being hired as a teacher of Talented and Gifted students. I vaguely remember hearing something about Bloom’s Taxonomy. But honestly, it didn’t sound important to me at the time. My new position put it front and center of my teaching. However, I was WRONG not to have used it in my prior placements. Good questioning should be in every teacher’s toolbox and used often in both instruction and assessment. It is a great addition to a parents’ toolbox as well.
Most questions are used to ask students to recall and check for understanding. For deeper understanding, we should ask children to apply their knowledge. Often my students could recall the information but could not explain their answers. Most of today’s testing requires students to explain their answers and gives partial credit to validate thinking.
This is an excellent topic for discussion. Therefore, look for future blogs on effective questioning for different age students that will include questioning stems to help in the classroom.
Remember: Being able to recall or recognize ideas and information.
Understand: Understanding the main idea of new information and being able to summarize.
Apply: Applying an idea to solve a problem.
Analyze: Breaking down an idea into parts to help understanding.
Last week, my oldest granddaughter excitedly started Kindergarten. We all knew she was ready, but our eyes still welled up when she climbed the bus stairs. She is growing up so fast! So, how did we know? Well, GiGi’s and daughters JUST KNOW but research on behaviors that predict Kindergarten Readiness also gives information to consider.
A report by the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) indicates that kids entering kindergarten display a wide range of behaviors. Some of them give kids a big advantage. The study tracked students from kindergarten through third grade, to determine whether some of these behaviors are related to academic performance. They are:
Pays attention well
Persists in completing tasks
Adapts easily to change
Shows eagerness to learn new things
Follows classroom rules
Looking at the list and Little Miss M, a couple of items make us raise our eyebrows but OVERALL, she was ready. Have fun Miss M! School is ready for you!
Research states that reading books aloud to children stimulates their imagination and expands their understanding of the word. It helps them develop language and listening skills and prepares them to understand the written word. But what to do if your child is not interested and it becomes a nightly struggle rather than a special nighttime ritual? Try Picture Walks!
As a K-2 principal I sometimes gave pep talks to parents in ways to engage their child in reading. A simple and easy way to help your child read is to do a “Picture Walk” BEFORE reading an unfamiliar story. “Picture Walks” help children to learn how to preview and make predictions about a book. A “Picture Walk” can last one day or multiple days depending on your child’s interest.
Before you read with your child
Choose a book and read it to yourself first.
While reading, look closely at the illustrations (pictures), the text (words) and the structure of the book (lots of illustrations, words on the bottom/top, rhyming, repetition of words)
Think about what YOUR child will like about the book. (illustrations, characters, ending)
While reading with your child
Model how to read
Look closely at the illustrations with your child and have them talk about what they see. There is no right or wrong answer, just talk about the illustrations.
Point out text features that will help them comprehend the story. (Subtitles, question marks, exclamation points)
Use some of the new words in the story when pointing to the illustrations.
Looking at the illustrations, ask general questions about the story. (Ex: where do you think the story is taking place, who might the story be about?)
Respond to their replies vaguely; rather that they are correct or incorrect. (Use phrases like “I wonder, it looks like, oh maybe, let’s read further)
After reading the book
Review some of the ideas and predictions that you talked about while looking back at the illustrations. This reinforces their thinking and fosters enthusiasm.
Solving mysteries can support critical thinking while having fun
Mystery Luncheons were a regular activity in our school when I was a principal. I invited different grades each day to join me to eat lunch and I shared with them a few mysteries to solve. It was a great time as we all chatted and tried to solve the mysteries.
The object of 1-2 minute mysteries is to solve the mysteries based on clues in the story. The clues are few and very often are not obvious. The mysteries seem impossible to solve until you remember there is something (or more than one thing) that you are making assumptions about.
Steps to Solve:
Read the story slowly.
If you are solving the mysteries with a friend, you can ask questions that can only be answered yes or no. Be sure to phrase the questions vaguely at first? Such as does the solution have anything to do with a specific character, the setting, the time of year, time of day, the weather etc.
Once you realize the answer is not clear, look at the story and think about what the tricks in the story could be:
Most times the trick could be in our assumptions of the 5 W’s. (Who, What, When, Where and Why)
What tricks could be in the story?
Is there something about the sequence of what happened? (what happened first, second or last)
Is there something about the characters? (Their name, the type they are)
Something about the setting? (weather, time)
In the old West a man rides into town on Friday. He stays for three days and leaves on Friday. How can this be?
A father and son are in an auto accident. The father dies and the son is rushed to the hospital in critical condition. The doctor looks at the boy and says, “I can’t work on him, he’s my son.” How can this be?
Donna and Jerry and Howard and Mary all live in the same house. Donna and Jerry go out to a movie, and when they return, Howard is lying dead on the floor in a puddle of water and glass. It is obvious that Mary killed him but she is not arrested. How could that be?
There is a pipe, a carrot and a pile of pebbles together in the middle of a field. Why?
Declan wants to go home, but he can’t go home, because the man in the mask is waiting for him.
Friday is not a day of the week
Some careers have both men and women employed
Howard is not a man
Can you think of something that uses all 3 items?
The man in the mask is not a threat. He is supposed to be wearing a mask.
Answers: (You asked for it, here they are)
Friday is the name of the horse the man was riding on.
The surgeon is the boys mother.
Howard is a fish. He lived in a fishbowl and it had fallen on the floor.
Most students in my talented and gifted classes were highly-abled. At times, these students exhibited traits of giftedness in a subject area. At other times, it may have been their creativeness or problem solving ability. Knowing the characteristics of highly-abled students will help teachers modify curriculum to develop strengths and address student needs.
has an excellent memory
has a large vocabulary
Uses complex sentence structure for their age
reads earlier than peers
demonstrates logical thinking
concerned with social and political issues
asks probing questions, inquiring minds, curious
has original ideas
enjoys and initiates own learning
can concentrate for lengthy periods of time
tends to be persistent and motivated
can be impatient and intolerant
has a wide range of interests
may have an extreme focus in one interest
has a deep knowledge base
often highly sensitive
has sophisticated sense of humor
transfers learning to new situations
makes connections between different activities and ideas
works well independently
enjoys spending time with older students or adults
(Source: National Association for Gifted Children (https://www.nagc.org/)
Welcome to the 2nd month of threeringsconnections.orgMonthly Math Enrichment Problems post, Each month I post some Math Enrichment problems for grades 2-3. I hope you will find them useful with your students in class or your kids at home.
Don’t forget to use 1 of your 6 problem solving strategies
Draw a picture
Guess and Check
Use a table or list
Find a pattern
Working backwards (try a simpler version first)
Problem Solving – Here we go!
On a baseball team, Chris, Jerry and Matt each played one of three positions of pitcher, catcher and second baseman, though not necessarily in that order. The second baseman, playing his first season with the team, had the lowest salary. Chris, who along with Jerry had played two seasons with this team, earned more than the pitcher. Who was the pitcher?
Declan wants to swim 20 yards out into the ocean. He swims out 5 yards in 4 seconds but then in one second a wave pushes him back 2 yards. If this cycle continues, how long will it take Declan to get 20 yards out for the first time, even if only for an instant?
A group of 63 students went to the museum. Some students took the bus, the rest went by car. If 41 students took the bus and 3 students rode in each car, then how many cars were needed?
Lowyn likes to celebrate her birthday for a whole week. On the first day she eats one cookie. On the second day she eats 2 cookies. This continues on until the seventh day when she eats 7 cookies. How many cookies did Lowyn eat that week?
Doug spent $44 This is twice as much as Kelly and Marian spent together. Kelly spent $9. How much did Marian spend?
61 + 12 = __ – 7 Find the number that belongs on the line.
If 40 – 6 = Q, how much is 45 + Q
Matt is the pitcher. Neither Chris nor Jerry played second base (it wasn’t their first season). Matt played second base. Chris earned more than the pitcher so he’s not the pitcher, Matt is.
The answer is 29. Every 5 seconds he gains 3 yards. After 25 seconds he is 15 yards out. In 4 more seconds he will be 20 yards out for the first time (even if only for an instant).
The answer is 8. 63-41=22. If 3 students traveled in each car, there were 8 cars. 7 cars had 3 students for 21 total and an 8th car was needed for the 22nd student.
The answer is 28. 1+2+3+4+5+6+7=28
The answer is $13. Half of $44 is $22. Since Kelly spent $9, then Marian had to spend $13 to equal $22.
80 goes on the line. 61 + 12 = 73 and 80 – 7 = 73
Q = 79.
Don’t forget to check in NEXT MONTH for more Enrichment Problems