Thursday, January 22, 2015


"Hey Seanie, I've got a big, old flat screen to get rid of, can you use it?"

When my friend Rosemary asked me that question on a bike ride, I didn't hesitate before answering yes. Yes is always my answer. "Can you use a..."


When Rosemary asked about the TV, I wasn't sure what to do with it, but having something to use up makes us exercise our creativity. Being given parameters, or closed choices gives you a great starting place to kick-starting your inventing skills.

My students and I tried to pair it with an old laptop to share students' artwork as slides, but we couldn't get the signal to work. (That attempt actually scored me a not-being-used 26" TV from district for that purpose, but that story veers off from this one). This left me with a large, heavy chunk of TV taking up classroom space, so I took it apart for my students to see inside.

I made sure to bone up on TV parts that might shock me before we started, and then we marvelled at how cool the tube and the wires inside were. We were left with a big shell that made me think of kids using boxes to put on fake TV shows.

Looking in the bottom of the set, it looked perfect for sticking hands through with puppets. A few hours playing with cheap wood from Home Depot and some beginner level power tools yielded our PuppetTV theater.

Because I never say no, my students are charged up to write scripts and put on shows. We've discussed options, and in addition to writing narrative plays, they've found uses for the theater in each subject area. Today a student proposed doing presidential profiles as puppet presentations.

Our next step is setting up a YouTube Channel with videos of our shows. I'm hoping that they like the process enough that we'll have some entries for some of the many video contests I've seen online.

Don't say no. If you've got something free, challenge yourself. Challenge your students. Find new uses for old things. It ignites your creativity, and gives life to things that have lost their usefulness.