Learn about materials, what’s on hand or trip to Home Depot, Michaels, fabric store

We learn early on that certain materials have certain uses. This helps us accomplish tasks quickly and efficiently. However, it also limits our imagination. A straw is useful for drinking. A straw can also be used for building, connecting, transporting and many other functions. Allow your team to experiment with materials. Give them miscellaneous stuff and have them describe the attributes of the items. What could they be used for?

Take them on a field trip to Home Depot or Michaels. Walk up and down the aisles and have the team come up with ideas about how they could use the things they see. If they don’t know what those things are meant for, they won’t be hampered by preconceptions. Give the team Instant Challenges to practice with a variety of materials to use for their solution. Do the same Instant Challenges and tell them to use the materials in new ways. Or give them all new items to use. Sometimes the most creative ideas come from just looking at things in a different way.

Just an extra tip: if you take the team to Home Depot or Lowe’s, take along an extra adult or two especially if you have any “roaming rascals” on the team.

This is probably a good time to mention that some big box home improvement stores have trainings and short projects for children as well as adults. Check their website for the schedule of a store near you.