Surprises at See-Level

eyeWhat’s on the wall next to the door of your classroom? I mean at a level where your students can see? If the answer is “nothing,” you might want to consider adding some intriguing pictures – artwork or photos of animals, space, plants, other cultures, – anything they may not have seen before that’s beautiful or unusual. This location is prime real estate for nourishing curiosity and inquiry!

Have you ever noticed that a lot of cereal boxes have games or puzzles on the back? The Cereal People know that children can’t resist a colorful puzzle that’s staring them in the face. The puzzle is always fun and easy, and prominently features the cereal’s name and spokescartoon. I’m sure it increases the likelihood of the child asking for that cereal again.

Well, those Cereal People are on to something. Children will look at whatever’s near them– so why not let them look at something that will stimulate their natural desire to learn and understand?

Kneel, squat, or sit on one of those little chairs and look at what’s on the wall at that level. Chances are there could be more paintings, photographs and other items to spark your students’ thinking and questioning.

Here are some subjects, often featured in pictures in newspapers and magazines, which your students may enjoy looking at and wondering about:

Planets, stars, galaxies, satellites


Archaeological finds from ancient civilizations

Original works by artists, photographers, and designers

Striking photos of deserts, mountains, giant redwoods, canyons

          and other natural wonders

forest canopy

Rocks, gemstones, precious metals, coins

Unusual machines of today and from other eras (typewriters, victrolas,                                         etc.)

Plants, animals, and insects

Beautiful clothing and jewelry from a variety of cultures

So re-claim that empty lot by the door, by the cubbies, near the bathroom, and anywhere your students spend time during the day waiting or lining up. It can stimulate a lot of inquiring, curious thinking.

(This piece was adapted from my book Teaching Creativity (Whitmore Books, 2010).


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