This year we were lucky enough to be introduced to a great program called Destination Imagination. I have tried for days to describe it in my own words, but continue to fail miserably. So here is a description taken from their website:
“Destination Imagination (DI) is a volunteer-led nonprofit organization whose purpose is to inspire and equip students to become the next generation of innovators and leaders. Annually, we offer seven new standards-based Challenges in STEM, Improv, Visual Arts, Service Learning and Early Learning. Each Challenge is open-ended and enables students to learn and experience the creative process from imagination to innovation while fostering their creativity, courage and curiosity. Academic tournaments take place around the world where teams have the opportunity to present their solutions to trained appraisers. Students have fun and gain confidence in their ability to solve any challenge. In working to solve our Challenges, teams learn 21st century skills (creativity, critical thinking, collaboration, communication, citizenship and courage), step outside of their comfort zones to pursue ideas and make presentations, and build on their unique strengths.”
Last year, a friend of mine, and fellow homeschooler was toying with the idea of starting a “Rising Stars” group of 5-7 year olds to try it out. I thought it sounded like a fun way to introduce teamwork and critical thinking skills to my second grader who lives to be on a stage. Typically it is an after-school activity for public/private schools, but thankfully they welcome homeschooling teams as well. Rising Stars are a non-competitive tier and allows the youngest team to showcase their solution, without that added pressure the first year. All groups after Rising Stars, compete at the regional level and can move on to the state, national and global tournaments.
Our team, The Cinders, started working on their challenge (Change In Direction) in September and presented their solution at the regional tournament last weekend. They (4, seven year olds and 2, five year olds) had to come up with a story about a journey that demonstrates a problem and a change of direction to solve that problem. Once the story was set, they had to create the stage props and costumes and develop a skit which they the perform for the judges at the tournament. All on their own.
The team manager and parents are not allowed to interfere by making suggestions, creating costumes or contributing in any other way. We could “facilitate the acquisitions of skills and knowledge” or show them where to find information that could help them, but we were supposed to be hands-off and let the team run with it.
Teams also perform “instant challenges” which require quick, creative and critical thinking skills. For example, they were given a spoon, a napkin, a straw, a cup with water and an empty cup. They had a few minutes to figure out how to get the water in cup A, into cup B, which was on the other side of the room, using only the tools provided. They performed a handful of instant challenges over the months, but it was optional for Rising Stars at the tournament and we decided to pass after such a long morning.
They really did a great job! YEAH Cinders! Miss RubyJ is looking forward to doing it again next year, but is really hoping for at least one other girl on the team 🙂
Have a great weekend!