The Power of an Idea

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Age Appropriateness: Any
Materials Needed: What Do You Do With an Idea? by Kobi Yamada and a fork.
In a Nutshell: Read the book and challenge conversations with a simple brainstorming activity.
Supporting Articles: Wait! Time

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This is the book that started it all. Well really, this is the egg that started it all.

What came first, the book or the egg?

For me, it was the egg. The egg has been following me for years, just like how the crowned egg in this book stalks the main character!

A little background:

I have always been bursting with creativity. I am my happiest when I am being creative. Professionally, I have always taken pride in being a creative problem solver. Sometimes my ideas pop into my head out of nowhere. Sometimes I think about a problem from different angles and come up with different possible solutions and then I work through those solutions in my head with their potential outcomes. I challenge myself to think of the potential unintended outcomes. Needless to say, my mind is a busy place and sometimes I get lost or stuck.

When I worked in schools and at the district level I used to joke that I had a basket on my desk where "ideas go to die." This was a sad joke because it was reality. I was always writing things down on a sticky note or a scrap piece of paper so I wouldn't forget and then by the time I had the chance to present the idea or put it into action we were off chasing another idea or I was told to shelf it for another time.

So my ideas were put into this basket, which always sat on my desk and it moved with me when I moved jobs and districts. It now sits on my desk at home. My little pot of gold.

Back to the egg.

My last year working before I made the switch to staying home, the curriculum office had a Secret Santa exchange. It was very clear whoever my Secret Santa was knew me very well. I was really honored and touched by the sweet little notes and thoughtful gifts throughout the week.

When the final day came and we were supposed to give a more substantial gift, I received this funny looking plush egg with a crown and legs. It was so bizarre and it made me laugh. At first I thought it was given to me to make me laugh and because I can be a bit odd, clearly this person picked up on that. But more than anything, I was curious. There had to be a story behind this.

My colleague revealed himself and asked if I liked it. I remember saying that it was cute and asked what it was from.

He told me the egg was from a book he liked to encourage his teachers to use and thought I would really like it. That night I went home and ordered What Do You Do With an Idea? by Kobi Yamada and illustrated by Mae Besom.

The day Amazon dropped it off on my doorstep was the day that everything changed.

Suddenly my basket of where "ideas go to die" became invaluable. My colleague flipped the script for me and changed my narrative. That plushie became a symbol for all of my dreams and ambitions.

To this day the egg still sits on my desk. Along with an ever-growing pile of ideas that WILL be put into action.

My beloved egg and current idea pile.

I don't think my colleague knows how much of an impact that gift had on me, but I can say with upmost appreciation that it has inspired my journey to creating this blog and finding outlets to finally getting those ideas out of the basket and into the hands of people who can use them.

The book:

What Do You Do With an Idea? begins with a child who has an idea, personified by the strange egg in a crown walking on two chicken legs. The child walks away from his idea, but the idea does not leave him. He becomes self-conscious about his idea, as I think so many of us have experienced; it can be scary to put your ideas out there and face rejection of something you have created. This child hides his idea and keeps it to himself, but it continues to grow and the child creates a place where his dream can thrive. Eventually his dream changes, sprouts wings, and becomes everything.

What Do You Do With an Idea? is an inspiration. As you will discover, especially as this blog grows, we do a lot of STEM activities here at home. I may be an English nerd, but my heart is truly in the sciences. I create space at home to explore, learn, and question, and I encourage this in my children as much as possible.

Yamada's books were introduced to me because they were used in STEM curriculum. I have since been suggesting it to anyone and everyone who will listen to me. Because it's more than just STEM, it's everything.

Nobody should let an idea go to waste. We need to celebrate and encourage unique ideas. We need children to become creative problem solvers!

Yamada has created so many powerful books, and I highly recommend you check them all out.

Ideas are powerful. This book and that plushie egg from my colleague have changed the way I hold onto my ideas and share them with the world.

As I said before, welcome to my blog. I am taking a risk putting this out into the world. In all honesty, it is scary. This has been my egg for years before sprouting its wings. And for that I have to pause and give a heartfelt thank you to my dear creative soul sister, who has supported and pushed me on this journey.

It's my most fervent wish though all of these posts that your children find eggs and carry them with them, that they are inspired to read and learn, and take those ideas to change the world.

The activity:

First, read What Do You Do With an Idea? Then read it again. And again.

Now lets dig into a way to come up with creative ideas and then celebrate and encourage them. The more you encourage this type of thinking, the more it will happen. And the more ideas are celebrated, the more confidence your children will have to grow and share their ideas. Really what I am going to show you is an exercise in creative problem solving.

So how do we encourage creative problem solving? Lots of different ways! Future posts coming your way.

In this post I am going to demonstrate a really simple and fun activity that you can do with anything and everything:

Take a fork.

Ask your child what the fork is for.

Likely your child will say it is for eating.

Now, put the fork on the table.

Brainstorm with your child everything else that fork could possibly be for. DO NOT LIMIT YOURSELF.

Be prepared for some wild responses!

"Dig with it. Use it to stick a paper on a bulletin board. Get it really hot and melt an ice cube."

You will discover that by encouraging the creative side of the brain, ways you can use that fork are endless.

My seven-year-old and I have these kinds of conversations about everything. He wants to be an inventor when he grows up and what I am always telling him is that he is already an inventor! He's always inventing ideas and coming up with unique uses for common things. A lot of this is his creative play.

There are hundreds of articles on the importance of creative play.

How does this activity look with someone who isn't really talking yet?

My two-year-olds play this way as well. Sometimes I am very explicit. Take a cup for instance. I might say, "What is the cup for?" My daughter might take it and pretend to drink out of it. My son might bang it on the table. I can then take that cup and we can put things inside of it.

And then we can move from common uses of this object. I might put the cup on my head. Or maybe we build a tower out of blocks and put the cup on top. Maybe we tie a string to the cup handle and drag it around the house.

The point is to explore and be creative with what else that common object can be used for.

Truly, the possibilities with this activity are endless. Try to play with the cup all day and see where it goes. Remember to ask lots of questions and try not to answer them, try to let your kids come up with the answers. For more tips and tricks, read "Wait! Time."

You can even do this with a baby!

I would suggest narrating what you do with the baby. Say something like, "Can I put the cup on my head? Let's see!" Followed by, "What else can I do with the cup? Can I bang it and make noise?"

The key is not to answer the questions, your job is to pose the questions and then clap and get really excited when your baby explores.

I know my youngest boy would just try to eat the cup. Have fun with it!

Remember, make sure you stop and celebrate all of the different ways you used the cup. Explicitly point them out.

So a quick summary: read whatever you can by Kobi Yamada and encourage creative with brainstorming activities like "What do you do with a fork?"

I hope this makes your child HUNGRY for more books!

Happy brainstorming!

Comment and share your creations on social media! I'd love to know how it went and any modifications you might have made. We're all here to learn from each other, not reinvent the wheel!




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