How to Foster Future Thinkers

If you’ve been reading my blogs you know that I work with children and youth a lot of all ages. You’d also know that I use PLAY as a bridge to learning about content and, more importantly about learning itself. Embodying any learning experience, becoming what you learn, is a great way to help anyone understand concepts in a profound manner. It can lead to many kinds of experiences. Here is one thing it can lead to… the creation of towers!

Read this next image to learn about a tradition from the country of my parents, and how towers played a role during festive times.

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Read this next image about a specific memory of someone who experienced the making of towers.

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I have experienced taking the interests of students as a cue can lead to a learner who is all-in! When we invite our students to co-create with us, and eventually create their own learning, the level of authentic learning expands greatly!


In this case, the preschool teachers from Child-Parent Centers Head Start in Tucson, Arizona, whom we’ve been collaborating with for over 14 years, started with the idea of Castle Towers which many of their children in this particular classroom knew about. There parents also knew about it, so talk about expanding the learning experience from the classroom to the home!

So, what did these teachers do? They broke down what a castle tower is with:

  1. An ongoing series of questions over time to co-discover the pieces of this “puzzle”.

  2. They had their children/students identify the different pieces.

  3. The children identified the materials needed to make those pieces.

  4. They created those pieces.

Here are some of the materials they needed!

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They sorted them by color.

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They created categories like ribbon and toothpicks. They asked more questions like, what would the toothpicks have been with a large tower in real life?

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Here’s an image of one piece of the tower, using different pieces to create a larger piece. That may sound simple, but what a great concept for elevated thinking from the perspective of an engineer!  Imagine what you could co-create with your students and what your students could co-create together with other students.

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You’re looking at a teacher or parent working with a young preschooler. Imagine what’s possible with your students!

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Below you’re looking at a young child putting on another finishing touch. While the end result is impressive, what is much more meaningful to me is what the process of creating looked like. Helping our next generation understand that the process takes time, that at first it may not look like much, and that it is worth it is a life skill.

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Part of the process involved making some of the smaller pieces before including them as part of the larger work of Art. At the preschool level understanding the “Macro” and “Micro” of anything is possible. Imagine what’s possible with your own students!

Ahhhh… one version of a Castle Tower!

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There were many versions… here’s another!

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...and still another!

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When students begin to realize that there is an unlimited amount of creativity inside them, they view learning very differently, with a renewed sense of curiosity, even as they get older.

How will you renew your students curiosity, and your own? What are their interests and desires, and how can you incorporate that into your learning environment?

Happy Creating!