Monday, December 1, 2014

"Minded" Activities-- Enrichment Box Idea

In September 2010, I met a woman at the bookstore. At first, she was mumbling to herself about something, and I had no idea whether she was talking to me or not. There was a professor, we believed, talking a few aisles down about testing- the SAT, FCAT… things teachers absolutely, positively don’t want to hear about on long weekends.

Eventually, this teacher and I got to talking, finally when I turned around and realized she was saying something about the person who was rambling about testing. I told her I was a teacher and how the long weekend was not a time to discuss these kinds of topics. We both laughed, and then I discovered she taught art in our district at one of the K-8 schools.

I told her about a vision I had for my students when they were done with their classwork. Too many teachers tell their kids they have around five options: silent reading, finishing work from before, studying, computer time, and perhaps doing some type of activity from a file or a Sudoku puzzle. Yet for me, those options seem too typical and I want kids to realize the world is a vast, intriguing place where opportunities abound.

I had a vision where students focus on multiple intelligences, to extents, in a variety of categories: Math-Minded, Science-Minded, History-Minded, Literary-Minded, Technology-Minded, Music-Minded, Travel-Minded, Art-Minded, and World-Minded. Thinking about what these categories made me think about what got me extremely excited and thinking that I would have embraced opportunities like these when I was a 9- and 10-year old fourth grade student.

In 2010, I didn't go much into developing the ideas at my weblog, but now I have decided to add what could be incorporated--

- Provide your students with brain teasers, puzzles, challenges, and games that encourage them to think on a deeper level about math. I highly recommend Puzzle Play from AIMS and The Book of Perfectly Perilous Math. Survival Math also offers a plethora of mini-project challenges. To download the math-minded activities I developed, see the file at my Teachers Pay Teachers store.
- Delve into architecture by designing the house of your dreams. Use graph paper (where one centimeter equals one foot), and then find the area of each room.
- Plan a week-long adventure to a theme park like Walt Disney World or Disneyland. Determine who in your family and which friends would partake in this adventure. When would you go? How would you get there; would you need airfare? How much would it cost for all of you to go? What would be the most economical deal for your family to visit all the parks? Which hotel would you stay in, and how much would it cost?
- Design your own restaurant menu, "order" from it, and then have your classmates "order" from your menu as well. Don't forget to "tip your waiter or waitress" when ordering.
- Practice spelling or vocabulary words using math where A=1, B=2, C=3, and so on.

- Can you design a phenomenal roller coaster ride? Remember, there is science behind roller coasters—potential and kinetic energy as well as gravity and momentum. Design a ride with an incredible theme. On your paper, write a description that is at least ten sentences long. Bring your reader through the adventure.
- Go on the computer and research various science experiments you and your classmates can complete. Do it for the current science unit or ask your teacher what the upcoming units are.
- Design a science game, flap book, or brochure for a current topic you are exploring in science class.
- Complete virtual science labs online.
- Write a podcast (radio show with a script) reviewing concepts you have learned in science class over the course of this year.
- Learn about identifying minerals by their physical properties, which primarily are color, luster, cleavage, fracture, and streak.
- Use a microscope to analyze slides you have either collected on your own or slides your teacher has provided to analyze the cells that make up various everyday items and organisms.

- Research a historical site within your state or nation. What can people learn about by visiting this place? Why should people visit this place?
- Choose an attraction anywhere around the world to showcase-- for example, the Coliseum in Rome or the U.S. Capitol in Washington D.C. It can still be standing or could have once been standing. Write a description showcasing some of the most phenomenal aspects of the place you chose.
- Choose a person or an event in history that fascinates you and research it using the Internet and literature provided in our classroom as well as our school's library. Write a podcast using information you found about the topic.
- Choose an exhibit from any history museum around the world to showcase. Sketch it out, and write a detailed description. You may even make a brochure about the exhibit.

- Begin writing a short story that goes in conjunction with a favorite book you have read (examples-- Divergent, The Hunger Games, Harry Potter). Perhaps focus on a story written from the perspective of a minor character or explore a situation the author did not write in-depth about.
- Write a book recommendation on an index card to post on a class Book Recommendation board. It needs to look like the others that are up there from last year’s class. Each book recommendation needs: Your name, the title of the book, the author, the number of stars you give it (up to 5- 5 being the best), and a summary of what happens. You can write on the back of the card as well. You can earn a point for a great recommendation. HINT: Read the recommendations in this folder so you know what is expected of you.
- Look at a printed-out menu provided for you in this Minded crate. On an index card, which is provided, come up with a delicious dish of your own- an entrée, appetizer, or dessert. Try to use as many food words as possible (for example: delectable (means delicious), drenched in chocolate, and baked to perfection). There is a food vocabulary sheet along with this task that can get your mind thinking. A wonderful dish can help you to earn a point. From there, tape your description in the “cookbook” to share with others.
(Some menus provided online as a .pdf are-- Buffalo Wild Wings, The Pop Shop, Skyline Chili, Einstein Bros. Bagels, Steak and Shake, Papa Murphy's, and the Chicago Pizza Authority.)
- Design a video game. You must write about five of the levels in your game. Perhaps make a strategy cheat guide for your game with your mini book that includes a page or a few pages about the characters, then the weapons/tools, and the levels. Make your video game original from other games you have seen or played. 
- Design a comic book or graphic novel. Include sketches and words for people to follow along with your story as well. It can be a story or explain something like something you have learned in science. The Graphic Library Max Axiom series is an example. 
- An Actor's Interpretation: Write either a monologue or short script focusing on a pivotal excerpt of a chapter book you have read. You may record it as a podcast if you desire afterward. 
- Theatrical Trailer: Make a theatrical trailer of a chapter book you have read, promoting it as a "movie". 
- If You Were the Protagonist: If you were the protagonist in a specific chapter book, how would you handle one of the most plot-changing situations? Describe in your response which book and character you are referring to as well as the actions the character took. 

- Learn how to code. "An Hour of Code" is a wonderful website that offers many options.
- Learn how to shoot and edit a video using software. There is editing software offered on iPads.
- Either start a website, weblog, or both. Learn about all the elements that go into making either or both of these a possibility.
- Does your teacher have technological gadgets like the Makey-Makey, littleBits, the Arduino, or Cubelets? Learn how they work and create something phenomenal using one of the kits.

- Write a song, rap, or chant about something you have learned in class. You can write the lyrics to a familiar song, or you can write to an original tune. The lyrics can rhyme, if you desire, but they don't have to.
- Listen to two different instrumental songs. Sketch out what those songs make you think of. 
- Listen to a song with lyrics. How do the lyrics make you feel? What do they describe? Are there any examples of figurative language in the song? Share some of the lyrics and reflect on their meaning. 
- Locate some songs that have inspirational, motivational lyrics. Write down some of those lyrics and interpret them. 

- Go on the computer and plan a cross-country road trip. How long would it take for you to head on a cross-country trip? Which states would you drive through? Which tourist attractions would you visit?
- Make some kind of display showcasing a city in the nation or world.
- Write a letter to a department of tourism requesting brochures, maps, guidebooks, or whatever they are able to offer for you to learn more about their state or province. Mention which class you are from, the name of your school, and where it is located. Mention whether you have visited there before and if so, what you enjoyed the most. The page should be about one page long, written in your neatest handwriting, and use proper grammar/correct spelling.

- Sketch and label a diagram of how something works.
- Sketch a "mind movie" scene the words from a book you are reading depicted for you.
- Sketch at least one scene depicting an event that took place in your state, province, or country's history.
- Sketch and design an awareness poster for an endangered or extinct species.
- Sketch a symmetrical design.
- Sketch a design using tesselations.
- Sketch a portrait of a prominent historical figure or event.
- Create a comic book about an important event in state, province, national, or world history.
- Sketch a scientific process (the rock cycle, the water cycle, etc.).
- Draw a perspective picture (a hallway, street, railroad, room, street corner, word art, the front of a building with one corner showing, etc.)
- Learn how to sketch an animal or something else in nature. Use a step-by-step tutorial, online or printed out in a book or on a sheet.

World-Minded-- World-Minded is a section of the box dedicated to exploring global issues and helping people. It can also be for debate-related topics.
- There are some phenomenal books out there about helping others-- Three Cups of Tea is about a man and his daughter who have visited children in Afghanistan. The Promise of a Pencil is about a man who traveled out of the country as well. Learn about how people have helped others and perhaps develop your own plan as well. When you're older, do you want to be a humanitarian and travel out of the country to help others in some way? Do you have an idea for using the Internet to help someone from the comfort of your home?
- Explore some debates-- Should students be required to wear uniforms at school? Do you agree with some schools removing soda machines across the country? Should skateboards be allowed on sidewalks? Should school be year-round with more frequent and shorter vacations? What do you think should be done to inform students about bullying-- and help them? Should the minimum driving age be raised? In looking at a controversial topic, write about your stance. 
- Use technology or books to begin learning a new language. 
- Profile a kid (past or current-day) who made a significant impact in his or her community, the nation, or the world. 
- Read about current events going on in your community, nation, and world. 

All the options can realistically be explored. If you would like to incorporate this in your classroom, make sure your students keep up their grades to explore the many options. Students should study hard and take their work seriously. If their work is rushed or not up to the high standards you set for them, you need to reinforce how hard work will lead them to have those privileges. Focusing on the many intelligences is very beneficial for increasing students' confidence and skills.

I don’t want creativity to be something my students embrace on special occasions. I want it to be something they embrace every day. 


  1. This is awesome! Thank you so much for sharing! This will be only my third year of teaching, and I really wanted to come up with something different and challenging the students can do if they finish early instead of just telling them to go read a book (which is totally fine if they enjoy it/actually do it). These ideas have really sparked my motivation to get organized and keep my students thinking and creating. Your Math-Minded download will be super helpful! Thank you so much!!!

    1. You're very welcome! I hope to share more about it in the future. I sadly haven't yet... since 2011 or 2012 or whenever this was, but it'll be touched upon again when I am inspired! =)

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  3. I love this idea. I was looking for enrichment ideas that focused on differentiation, and this fits so well! Thanks for sharing!