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  • Wenna Doig

Fire Hazard!

Updated: Dec 29, 2020

I was staring at my overflowing recycling bin one day, thinking that I really should be able to come up with a more creative solution to the problem than jumping up and down in the bin in a vain effort to make the paper more compact. Then I remembered, years ago when I was a fresh young teacher, experimenting with my grade 6’s by sculpting heads out of paper. Problem solved.

While I do not claim to have invented this–can’t remember where the idea actually came from, I do recommend it if you have a used paper surplus and a lot of bored kids. It is a marriage made in a classroom.

The basic challenge is that the kids need to create a free standing head, which emotes a discernable mood, out of nothing but paper and tape/glue sticks. Depending on the age of your kids, you can up the challenge level, or reduce. For instance, kids often default to making a basic head shape by rolling the paper into a cylinder. You can challenge them to start with a more complex or asymmetrical shape, or for younger kids, actually give them the base shape to start.

I normally begin with a mini techniques class, where we explore different textures we can create with paper; this can be done in competing teams for points, relay style, or in a more guided manner. I do think it is important that they have time just to play with the paper and learn from each other before they build the head, as it builds confidence and warms up their creative juices. Encourage them to add character details and accessories, and talk about facial features that convey mood to start. The head building itself can be done individually, in pairs or teams. It can be done as a more formal project with student generated criteria, or as a game, with a student generated point system. The second approach is a lot of fun for team building, and can produce some pretty wacky heads, especially if you give them time restrictions, and push up their adrenaline.

One of the things I like best about this activity is that it costs next to nothing. Of course ‘health and safety’ will claim you are creating a fire hazard, but what is life without a little danger?


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