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Genius Hour 2 - Cardboard Challenge

Genius Hour 2 - Cardboard Challenge A follow-on Article from October 2014's look at Genius Hour. This one describes the impact of The Cardboard Challenge and offers inspiration for trying it out yourself.

This is a Free Sample Resource
Categories: Article, Creativity, Business, DT, Junior

Tags: Genius Hour Creative Curriculum Design Creative Thinking
I’m really inspired by the Genius Hour concept featured last month. It brings together a whole bunch of skills and attitudes often missing in school but essential for success in life, work and learning. It’s manageable; it’s engaging; it’s fun and it can reignite a love of learning for both teachers and their pupils.

So…..more this month from the UK’s emerging Genius Hour expert, Graham Andre.

Since last time he’s further developed GH through his twitter network @grahamandre and he’s run a hugely successful GH-inspired Cardboard Challenge in his school, Lanesend Primary in Cowes on the Isle of Wight:

The Cardboard Challenge – Lanesend Arcade

Following my article in October’s newsletter on Genius Hour, we’ve run the whole school initiative that was mentioned: ‘The Cardboard Challenge’. This was inspired by the video Caine’s Arcade in which young Caine spends his weekend at his Dad’s garage creating a cardboard arcade. The video and idea were then taken and turned into a ‘Global Cardboard Challenge’ by the people at ‘The Imagination Foundation’. At the end of October every year, schools and communities are encouraged to join in with the challenge. It is entirely up to the organisation to decide the theme of their challenge.

It was October 9th 2014 (mark it in your diary for 2015) and there was an expectant hush in the school assembly hall. The children knew there was a cardboard challenge, but they did not know what the challenge would be. They had seen a mountain of cardboard being delivered by different companies, individuals and families for the past two weeks, but what were they to do with it?

I welcomed the children and said I didn’t want to keep them there any longer than necessary because today they would be very, very busy. Off went the lights and Caine’s Arcade started playing on our large screen, children watched wide-eyed and fully engaged. There was a definite buzz when the video finished.

‘Today we will be creating Lanesend Arcade!’ I announced. There was a cheer! A genuine cheer from children who’d just been told they were going to be very, very busy today! I looked out and saw faces bright and alive and ready to engage.

‘What, is this all day?’ asked a child from Year 1. I nodded and the look of amazement he gave his friend said it all. We then watched the second chapter of ‘Caines Arcade’ to give children some ideas by seeing what other children had created. By now, they could barely contain their excitement.

We all returned to our classrooms to start the fun. Now, you might think this is the point at which it starts to unravel; the time when the children’s enthusiasm turns to frustration because their skills and the available resources fail to match their aspirations – fail to live up to Caine’s Arcade. But no. I’d anticipated this and thoroughly briefed my colleagues. I had already shared ideas with them and offered a checklist of success criteria for each possible creation. And each possible ‘machine’ in the arcade was fully resourced.

It is hard to put in words how brilliant it was to see the children being so creative with cardboard. They were working as teams, overcoming problems, designing, using their imaginations and creating games that, as adults, we might think impossible.

For our children, on 9th October 2014, anything was possible.

My children were so involved that I allowed myself some time to wander around the school to see how everybody was getting on. It was truly brilliant. Children I often see struggling with Literacy or Numeracy were totally engrossed in their creations - whilst using the very same Literacy and Numeracy skills that would usually cause them anxiety!

My colleagues were amazed at their children and their newly revealed abilities to create and imagine. Several said to me, ‘It is my best day yet this term.’ When I asked why they replied, ‘Children who we normally have trouble involving in day to day lessons are fully involved here, and we can spend our time talking to them. We never get that time normally.’ This last statement really resonated with me and confirmed for me how worthwhile ‘Genius Hour’, ‘Cardboard Challenges’ and ‘Maker Spaces’ (for another time! Or mail me/Mike) can be, both for the student and for the teacher.

How many of us are afraid to let go of the ‘traditional’ curriculum subjects and their structure? And are we ready to trust our children to be creative and to use their imaginations in non-structured situations? If we can offer that trust, the results can be amazing.

Once the arcade machines were complete, the children were able to share their creations with their families. This made it even more special. The following week, one of our parents said, ‘It was one of the best things I have ever seen, there was a sea of cardboard arcade games walking out of school on Friday evening.’

We are already thinking of our next whole school creative challenge. Such was the success of this one that we plan to do one each term and the ‘Global Cardboard Challenge’ each year.

Here are some pictures and thoughts from our children:

We shared our day via Twitter @grahamandre and had some amazing tweets back from some amazing people too. If you would like to know anything more about the ‘Cardboard Challenge’ or ‘Genius Hour’ please contact me And maybe Mike’ll give me a bit more space in his wonderful newsletter sometime soon to share some more of these activities!

Related Resources:

Genius Hour


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