List 20 or so items and say, “Okay, I think we have enough, but any other item not listed here will serve the same purpose.” Ask the class, or specific child to think about the one thing that each and every item on Earth that is man-made has in common. Listen to children's suggestions for two or three minutes, and then say, “I hear some good ideas, and some really good ideas, but still we are lacking the common factor in each and every man-made item on Earth. Ready to find out?” Face the chalkboard or chart paper and write in capital letters: IMAGINATION. Then, turn around, and in a dramatic and solemn way say… “The common factor is imagination.” Give children 20-to-30 seconds to process the meaning of the statement and continue, “Anyone cares to explain why ‘imagination’ is the common factor in all man-made objects?” Again, listen to children’s ideas, some of those ideas may surprise you, and spend several minutes elaborating on the best ones. Chances are that the most in-depth interpretation of the statement will escape the understanding of children, so, help them grasp meaning using the following discussion starter: “Think about it… Before the chair, or eyeglasses, or the motorcycle, I mean, everything on this Earth, became a solid object, or became real, that object, big or small, simple or complex was envisioned or imagined by one person; in history, we know these individuals as inventors and creators. The chair on which we sit (point to a chair), or that world map on the back of the room (point to), or my eyeglasses (point); they were all an idea first, a thought, or a dream in somebody’s mind. For example, someone dreamt the wheel many, many years ago; from that dream, a revolutionary idea was born, and, after outlining that idea into a work plan, the idea of a wheel dreamt by its dreamer continued evolving and transforming into the wheel that we all know. And today, we cannot even imagine our world without the wheel, can we? I feel safe to conclude that our imagination is very, very, very powerful, don’t you?” Spend five-to-ten minutes reflecting on this information, outlining the following:
1. There seems to be a natural progression from idea (thought or dream) to invention or creation, with the idea or dream preceding the invention.
2. The same principle that applies to objects (i.e. from thought or dream to reality), applies to conceptual models and abstract ideas such as democracy, Hinduism, or women’s rights movement (simplify for younger or less mature children).
3. For an idea or dream to transform into a solid object or an actual model the dreamer needs an action plan with specific steps and sub-steps. Without outlining a plan of action, and spending time and effort implementing our plan, our dream stays in its abstract form, never to emerge as something real and possible for us. Simply put, our dream is not enough, we need a plan.
From this class discussion of how our focused dreams and disciplined imagination are the ones that make it possible guide students to connect or link disciplined imagination with self-improvement, both in their academics and behavior. Children can establish this important connection using an inspirational phrase such as, “With the power of my imagination, I can improve myself, imagining better and greater, and then outlining the steps I need so that I can reach this new and improved me.” You can finish this class activity by helping students create self-inspirational phrases, keeping those phrases posted all year long on an easy-to-reach place. Whenever you see attitudes (e.g. self-confidence) and effort slowing down, point to a phrase on the chart, and recite it to remind children of the power of imagination in making our dreams possible. Here are two self-inspirational phrases for your chart: IMAGINE BETTER—IMAGINE GREATER and FOR SOMETHING TO BE CREATED, IT HAS TO BE IMAGINED FIRST.To download this article as a ready-to-use social-emotional lesson plan, click here.
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A Call to All Teachers:
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