Every home, garage, attic, shop, and school has its share of
miscellaneous items that are no longer useful but could be if
anyone could just figure out what to do with them. In this
activity, students will use their imaginations to make
something useful and/or decorative from throwaway items
brought in from home.
WHAT YOU NEED
Throwaways and recyclables from home, such as clean plastic
gallon containers, buttons, boxes, scrap material, wire, wood,
string, etc. (Items should be safe, non-toxic, and no longer
- Paints and brushes
- Paste and/or glue
- Hole punchers
- Hammers and nails (optional)
WHAT TO DO
- Provide a convenient storage area where the materials can
be stored until you're ready to use them.
- Divide the class into four teams.
- Each team randomly selects a set number of materials from
the storage area (5 to 7 items, depending on how much is
available). All other materials should be accessible to teams
without limits on their use.
- Set a period of time (about 30 minutes) for each team to
create a totally new "Whatsit" that uses all the selected items.
Encourage students to discuss their ideas for a Whatsit before
creating it. The Whatsit can be functional and/or decorative,
just as long as it's new and different. (You may choose to allow
each team to swap one item with another team or with the
- At the end of the allotted time, have teams display their
completed works and choose a spokesperson to explain the
purpose of the Whatsit and, if necessary, to demonstrate it.
- Students can write and present a television commercial to
"sell" their Whatsits. If possible, videotape the commercials to
study persuasive language techniques.
- Students can present their Whatsits to a panel of student
evaluators from another class in the school and answer
questions about their creations. The evaluators evaluate each
Whatsit for usefulness, appeal, and/or creativity.
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