*This lesson coincides with chapter 1, the right answer, from A Whack on the Side of the Head by Roger von Oech.
Lesson written by: Lacey Carey
Grade level range: 3-5
Length of time to teach lesson: 10-30 minutes
Summary of lesson: Students will be given toothpicks and asked to make various shapes. Each shape is ambiguous enough (i.e. make a shape with exactly four points, or make a shape that curves) that there are several different ways to meet the criteria. After someone makes a shape, the person sitting next to them draws the shape and they decide as a group what their most creative idea was.
Objectives (Learning targets) of this lesson: Students realize that problems don’t have one right answer. They see that everyone participating and generating ideas helps the group because they have more ideas to choose from.
Supplies/handouts needed to teach this lesson: Pencil and paper to draw the shapes and 15 toothpicks for each group, rubric
Step-by-step teaching instructions:
1) Each group of 4-5 students is given exactly fifteen toothpicks.
2) Teacher reads the shape prompt (see shape prompts below) and first students makes a shape that meets the criteria set by the prompt.
3) Student sitting next to student one draws a picture of the shape.
4) Student two then tries to make a new shape that fits the criteria. Drawing passes to the next student.
5) This continues until all students have attempted to create a new shape that meets the criteria.
6) Group looks at all the drawings and decides which one is the most creative.
7) Teacher reads a new shape prompt and steps 3-6 are repeated.
Closure: As a whole group talk about whether the best ideas were always the first ideas they came up with. Discuss whether the same person always came up with the most creative shape or was it different people responding to different prompts. Apply this to a real academic problem that would need to be solved. Is it always best to go with the first idea or the one from the person who is perceived to be the “best” in the group?
1) Create a shape that has five points
2) Create a shape that has all curves, no points
3) Create a shape that has only three sides
4) Create a shape that has both curves and angles
5) Create a shape that looks like an animal
6) Create a shape that looks like a person
Assessment: Students use rubric to self-assess or assess a group member.