Had enough of your kids this year? Why not try some challenges like these? | Mentoring in the Middle

Had enough of your kids this year? Why not try some challenges like these?

 I knew I needed to see more when I saw pictures of the art Jodi Oakley's students had created using sliced bread.  Yes, slices of bread.

Jodi had posted in a Facebook group for sixth-grade teachers that she was trying some collaborative challenges with her students.  The challenges sounded like a ton of fun and what her students created had me laughing out loud!  

I especially loved that students could work alone in some situations, but discovered they would accomplish more if they were collaborative.  It was hysterical that they tried to earn extra points by focusing on things or people she liked.  Like manatees.  Or Adam Levine.

Here's the bread activity.  The directions were simply to create art with a slice of bread.  Each student was given one slice.  And that was it.  Here's Levine.

Her challenges are based on the British TV comedy game show, Taskmaster.  Jodi generously gave me permission to share her idea and picture.  

I've added a few challenges of my own.  Here are a few that might work for your classroom this week!

the number one

Draw a Picture - Blindfolded

Note:  This is a challenge where you want to deliver the directions in separate steps.

1. Break your students up into small groups (they can be completely random unless you want to separate certain students), and give them a blank sheet of paper and some colored pencils or markers.  You can use paint if you dare, but I think it's probably safer to stay away from them!

2. Tell them that they are going to create a picture together.  Assign what it is that you want them to draw (any kind of a landscape scene works, like playing in the snow, field day, or leaving school on the last day.)

3.  Now, give them the last set of directions.  Only one person may draw.  Give them a few seconds to pick that person before you announce:

  •      that person will be blindfolded.  

4.  The other students can give directions but they may not touch the hand of the person drawing.

Then, watch as they figure out how to best communicate and collaborate!

the number two
a dog with an apple on its head

On Your Head

This is a physical activity, so decide if this one is something your kids need, or if you want to stay away from it!

1.  Tell your students that the challenge is to get an object from a desk or table to the top of their heads. 

2.  With their hands behind their back at all times.  

3. You can make this as easy or challenging as you wish.  Think in terms of things that will more likely stay put vs. round items that might roll off the table easily.

4.  Need to make it really challenging?  Pair students with a partner and see if they can all do it while holding hands the entire time.

the number three

Act it Out

1.  Form small groups of 4-5 students.  

2.  Tell them that they will need to recreate their favorite scene from (choose one: a book you read aloud to the class, a book that one or more of them have read, a book that has a movie version, their favorite TV show, you choose!)

3.  They can only use props they find in the classroom (you can determine ahead of time what they can use or nothing at all if you don't want them digging into your closets!)

4.  Give them 20-30 minutes to work together.  

5.  There are a few ways you could do this.  If the book is one that's familiar to many or all of them, don't have them say anything about the scene.  Then, after they've performed it, have students who are watching figure out what the scene and book are.

6.  Want to make it more challenging?  Have the students mime the scene.  Do you want to tell them that beforehand?  You decide!

the number four

No More, No Less

I have blogged about how creative students get when they write book summaries in 15 words, no more, no less.  You can read about that here.

But what if you had them write a story together?  That had exactly, I don't know, maybe 427 words in it?  Jodi did something similar to this in her classroom and it looked like the students were pretty creative.

It's a great way for them to collaborate on ideas.  But they still have to pay attention to details, like how to get important plot movements across in less than a page.

You might want to challenge them not to end it with "To be continued....."

I hope you've enjoyed these ideas and that you're inspired to try one or more of them with your students next week!

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