You don’t have a box of ‘stuff’? Get out of town. You’re a teacher. You have overflowing drawers of craft equipment, pens, pencils, novelty pens, novelty pencils, bookmarks that people buy you because ‘that’s what teachers like’, cups from Disneyland that your 9 year old daughter no longer fully appreciates (how on Earth could Ariel bimbling about in a load of glitter gel EVER get old?!) and we will not get started on the Christmas decorations that are currently in between positions of employment from the ‘to keep’ pile to the ‘I give up, that knot is never coming out of that bloody tinsel’ pile. You have stuff, dude. Put it all in a box, and here are ten things you can do with it until your creative, explosive mind takes over and you think of ten more that are even better. 1. Character Profiling: what object would describe Lennie? A feather, little Danny? Oh how come? Please justify that response. Maybe he is a little too heavy handed to be a feather…. a piece of carpet you say, talkative Tiffany? Because he is strong and durable, yet soft and fragile? Lovely justifications for your ideas. Work with little Danny. Collaborative learning. 2. Walking thought machine: get a bit of string. Ok, a lot of string. Select students as characters, themes or issues within the novel/poem/whatever and groups use the string to make links or contrasts between them. Post it notes or sections of the text could be used as labels. 3. Learning Objective Stuff: Set up your stuff on the desk and students have to guess the objective that they are demonstrating. Too hard? Pathetic fallacy- rainbow of feathers, happy couple stolen from top of wedding cake. Yes, they are in the box. 4. Storytelling: Ready Steady Cook-ish task. Each group can choose an item each to take away, and create a story that features those objects. The box of stuff is an endless supply of stimulation. We’re only at #4 and you’re sold, right?! 5. Creative writing: I used this with Y10 for developing ‘show don’t tell’ writing. Students choose an item and then describe it using the five senses to the reader, without revealing the object itself. You can make this really fun by everyone keeping their object a secret and then sharing work to try and guess the items. Wow words ahoy. 6. Scene Reenactment: This is an extension of the talented @nicnacraph’s Tabletop Shakespeare. Students choose a scene from Shakespeare, a novel etc and lay things out on a sheet of paper to represent themes, ideas and characters. They then jot down why that particular thing, justification for proximity of characters, how themes are demonstrated e.g power, vulnerability etc. This can be then shared through the class using the classroom as an exhibition of their pieces. One person could remain to act as curator 🙂 7. PSHE: Used for Y7 bullying. Each student chose a thing from the thing box that represented them. They then worked in a group to compile reasons why the other people’s items were not as impressive as they’re own items. This normally brought out lots of mean generalising comments. Then, students compiled a list about why the other items were equally as impressive, just in a different way. Highlighting the wonderful nature of human life; difference. 8. Creating characters: Again, students select a thing from the thing box (this bit is mandatory for most thing-related activities, as I am sure you have spotted the pattern) and use it to create their own character. They could think of the qualities related to woody’s hat, or a toy soldier, or a feather. This was used for Skellig with Y8 to create our own Monsters. 9. Creative writing club: Perfect for choosing a random theme. This could be used in conjunction with the innovative @100word challenge for that extra push! Pick a thing. Use the thing as a basis for your story/character/mystery/fantasy/reason the word needs saving. Yes little Danny, That Lego man is trying to destroy the planet. 10. I’ve left this blank. I want you to fill in the number 10. Not because I’m a lazy bum (i AM a lazy bum) but because I want to see if you make use of your wonderful thing box. Now, go and scavenge through your junk drawer and the kid’s toy box. My top tip? Don’t steal anything that they may notice. Unless it is a REALLY good thing of course.