Make a Positive Ripple in the Lives of Students Workshop


In this workshop you will be tasked with a series of creative challenges to create a positive ripple in the universe. The challenges are designed to achieve two goals. The first goal is to trust in yourself that you are indeed a maker and creative. Once we get the juices flowing we will head towards goal two for you to MAKE a gift to MAKE a positive impact in the lives of students. This workshop will allow you to learn new skills, trust in your abilities, and more importantly spread some good in the world and in the lives of students. Come ready to explore, make, and walk away feeling empowered. We will be living the slogan of “Making a positive difference in the life of each and every student daily,” through a hands on approach and exploration of experiencing that “Failure is not an option, but an opportunity.” More importantly, these are ideas that can be tweaked and hacked to be used in the classroom.

Overarching Discussion Guidance

General Discussion Questions

  • What are you discovering about yourself through these creative making processes?
  • How can you take simple materials that you have access to and convert to powerful learning moments?
  •  How can these ideas be turned into something even better for you and your students?

Classroom Application

How can you use this item and/or idea in the classroom? Think about some unique ways in which this item might be used to enhance learning. And yes, you can dig around online if you can’t think of anything on your own!

Share with the world and your students

Post an image of your work to the Padlet Channel


Social Media

If you wish to share online please post it and include me

Twitter: @coffeechugbooks

Instagram: @coffeechug

Facebook: Coffee For The Brain (it is a page)  

Hashtag #212steamlabs and #proudtobemusd


Make a Positive Ripple in the Universe

Simple Rules


  • Everyone Participates
  • Start with the direction, but head in any path you like
  • Embrace the uncomfortableness of tapping into your creative spirit
  • Be a kid again
  • Make an impact in the lives of others
  • Small things make BIG changes
  • Believe



Part 1: 30 Circles       

Your task is to use the provided template of 30 circles and fill them all in with creative designs. Use any medium you wish – Sharpie, pencil, pen, crayons, etc.


You are provided 5 minutes to complete all.


Have fun and go crazy!

Part 2: Life is Like a Deck of Cards

Your task is to use the deck of cards to build the tallest freestanding tower. However you  construct is up to you.

Some ideas to consider

  • Did you formulate a plan or just start building?
  • Success or no so much?
  • How tall was your tower?
  • What did you learn?
  • Classroom application?
  • 21st century skills


Part 3: Crayons

Your task is to use your crayons provided in addition to any other crayons that you desire to create an artistic masterpiece.

As Al Hirschfeld stated, “Artists are just children who refuse to put down their crayons.”

You have some options with your crayons

  • Draw a picture
  • Make a sculpture
  • Create a carving
  • Design mixed media
  • Develop a wax resist   

For your piece of artwork I want you to think about your favorite toy as a child. Read the article to gain some inspiration. Develop your masterpiece based on your favorite toy.

Seymour Papert (1980): Mindstorms: Children, Computers, and Powerful Ideas (Foreword: The Gears of My Childhood)

Part 4: Paperclips

Your task is to use your paperclips provided to build a model that represents something important in your life.

  • Why did you build the object that you built?
  • What was the biggest obstacle you had to overcome in this challenge?
  • If you could have used one more object other than a paperclip what would you have  used? Why?

Part 5: Binder Clip Challenge

Your task is to come up with three innovative uses in how we can use binder clips to make our lives better!

3 Hacks! Take pictures and post. Be creative and look to finding ways to take simple and easy to a new level.

Thanks to Tammy Dunbar for this idea from a summer PD I hosted earlier this year.



Your task is to write a mad lib based on the observation of people. Go ahead and get out. Walk around and take a 5 minute stretch break. During that break write down four words based on four different people or observations you make while walking.

  1. Adjective
  2. Noun
  3. Adverb
  4. Verb

When you come back from your break we will share what to do next!

Part 7: Ink Art

Your task is to create a beautiful ink masterpiece from a blob of ink. Place a dab of ink on paper,  spread it out with a keyboard duster and convert it into art!

“Excuse the mess, but we live here.”  – Roseanne Barr

Idea is adapted from Daily Monsters Website

Watch this video to see how he makes his monsters come alive! Very cool to watch 100 Days Of Monsters (with DVD) by Stefan G. Bucher

Part 8: Playdoh

Take a can of playdoh and build what you think the ideal classroom looks like.

How can you use with students at the beginning of the school year?

How can you use Play-Doh as a manipulative in your class?

Part 9: 6 Word Story

Your task is to use 6 notecards to create a message to a student who needs to hear from you.

They are simple mini pieces of paper. We will be using them to create a story to a student of your choice.

Feel free to add music or your voice. You can use your phone or computer to record the story. It is up to you to come up with the title and story.

Feel free to write other stories as well.


Don’t hide your work. Be proud. Be brave. Be the change that embraces our creative  talents!

Part 10: Message In A Bottle

This is for you! A personal challenge. You are going to write yourself a message. What is the  most important thing you can say to your future self? Write it down and seal it up. Stash it away and pull the bottle out when you need it. Don’t about finding out when as life has a perfect way of letting you know.

Part 11: Postcard Art

Receiving mail is awesome. Receiving personalized email is the best! How often do our students actually receive mail let alone customized just for them.

In this activity you will design and decorate a postcard for a student(s). Design it in a way that reflects the person.

Be sure to write a nice little message to go along with it. When you are ready spend a few pennies and drop it in the mail.

Part 12: Large Envelope Art

Maybe I a bit obsessed with mail, but it is like little prizes every single day(except bills).

How do we take the routine aspects of our lives and spruce them up?

For this challenge you will take a large envelope and decorate it. I mean how awesome would it be to receive a big envelope personally decorate just for you. You could even drop in the postcard if you wanted. Why not mix it up and have a big envelope for a small note?

Part 13: Free Build

We have a lot of materials at our disposal. What can you make? What can you put together to create a positive ripple in the universe?

The challenge is up to you and I cannot wait to see what you create!

Additional Resources

Over the summer I ran a PD course for educators where we did some of this work through a different lens, but the impact was still as good.


If you want to see some of the work from educators from Iowa, then check out this blog with links to all challenges, but most importantly the video of all their work

For other ideas we have done in the past

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