Reprinted with express permission of the author as it appeared on the All4MyChild blog, October 31, 2011
by: Jill Perry MHA, M.S. OTR/L
I am finding many of the kids with whom I work have a difficult time coming up with novel ideas. This has been happening in the gym, when telling stories, when they are creating Lego structures, or when drawing. Our social adventures groups provide kids with ample opportunities to build this particular skill…but it has been a tough one to develop. When they are given an open ended directive, the outcome is often a repeat of a previous idea or activity, a copy of another child’s idea, or a repetitive theme.
During one recent group, together with the kids and my wonderfully creative SLP co-leader, Meghan, we came up with an idea for creating ideas! Meghan read the book “Not a Box” by Antoinette Portis (featured in our Books4all entry see here). We then gave each child a piece of paper with the same single-lined non-descript shape and told them to imagine what it could be and then add to the drawing. After a designated amount of time, they passed their papers to the left and were told to add on to the previous person’s drawing. Initially, when the papers were set before them, each child attempted to turn the form into what they had initially intended…an angry bird scene, a truck, a ghost, a pool. After some discussion, we tried round 2 giving each child a paper showing a different form. We encouraged the kids to look at their friend’s paper when it was set down before them and to try to imagine what their friend was thinking about when they drew it. Then, they should add to their friend’s drawing. By the fourth round (over several sessions), the kids were able to take the perspective of their friends and create a novel addition to each picture that was consistent with the original drawing. A huge side benefit was that the kids also learned to be flexible when their original pictures returned to them looking different that what they expected.
The kids loved this activity and named it, “Not a box drawing” which seemed really appropriate. I’m excited to try this in other forms to see if it carries over.
Featured Author/Website: Jill Perry MHA, M.S. OTR/L of All 4 My Child
Jill Perry, MHA, M.S., OTR/L is the Director of Occupational Therapy Services . She is an occupational therapist and general partner at CTA with over 25 years of experience working with children. Her clinical interests include working with children who have non-verbal learning disabilities, autism spectrum disorders, and sensory processing disorders. Jill is an Associate Practitioner for Integrated Listening Systems®, (iLs), a Tomatis based auditory program with specific visual and vestibular stimulation. She is also a provider of The Listening Program®, (TLP), a music listening therapy. In 2005 Jill earned her master’s degree in health administration from Suffolk University. In addition to working as a clinical occupational therapist, Jill enjoys working with families as the OT intake coordinator at CTA.