Harvesting Creativity Without Relying on Technology

With his bushy eyebrows, bright red fur and ears that stick out to there, the giggles instantly saturated Appleview Elementary’s gymnasium the moment EdGar Sinclaire appeared.

The laughing swelled when the fuzzy puppet recited poem after poem in rapid-fire succession that had the students laughing, dancing and jumping up and down, starting with the poem, “Chocolate.”

“Uno, dos, tres, CHO!
Uno, dos, tres, CO!
Uno, dos, tres, LA!,
uno, dos, tres, TE!
Chocolate, chocolate
Bate, bate chocolate!”

Five Ways Parents can Spark Students’ Creativity

  1. Share some of your childhood memories with your children, then encourage them to write down some of their own memories. Or create a family book of memories.
     
  2. Have your children create new endings to books they’ve read.
     
  3. Take a picture book and flip through it backward with your children, inviting them to create a new story based on the illustrations.
     
  4. Read a recipe with your children. Have them write down their favorite words or the words that are the most interesting, and then ask them to write a poem using those words.
     
  5. Write down a bunch of interesting words on small pieces of paper. (You can do this alone so that the words are a surprise to your children, or have them be a part of this word-gathering activity.) Put all the words into a bowl. Have your kids close their eyes and each pull out three pieces of paper. They now get to create a three-sentence story, using one of their words in each sentence.

SOURCE: Kevin Kammeraad

To the students’ increasing delight, EdGar sang the song several times, each time faster than before.

But the benchmark for EdGar and his puppet cohorts — Kevin The Puppet, Bill Williams, Jacob, Breeko, Wendell the Wanderer and Critter — isn’t only to tickle the third- through fifth-grade students’ funny bones.

Behold the Imagination’s Power

The goal is to harvest their imaginations in ways they may have not considered. And here’s the key: It all happens without relying on a search engine, software applications orother technological gizmos, said puppeteer Kevin Kammeraad.

“They can be creative without technology,” said Kammeraad, who along with his capable puppeteer partner, Justin Haveman, comprise the Cooperfly Puppet Troupe. Kammeraad also is the author and illustrator of several children’s books including “The Tomato Collection.”

“There are ideas everywhere,” Kammeraad said. “They can experience it and act upon it. Writing poetry is similar to making a puzzle. You use the words as the pieces to create your poem.”

It’s a puzzle students say they intend to piece together.

“It gives you a chance to be creative and a chance to inspire illustrations and maybe make our own poems,” said fourth-grader Emily Gonzalez-Berrero, who treasures her copy of “The Tomato Collection.” “I like to create and picture it with your imagination.”

Writing poetry isn’t something you instantly accomplish, Emily added. The creative process often means letting an idea marinate for a while.

Furry EdGar Sinclaire accomplished more than tickling students’ funny bones

“Sometimes I like to write in notebooks at home what I feel could be the lyrics to a song.”

Fun Things Inspire

The puppets boosted some students’ imaginative morale.

“You can be inspired and creative with your own poems,” fourth-grader Taylor Marlatt said.

“There are fun things around me to inspire me,” added fourth-grader Isaiah Reister.

Kammeraad said technology is not on the same level as human beings when it comes to creativity because technology cannot guarantee original, innovative or inventive thinking.

Need proof?

A fuzzy-face puppet named Breeko accepted the challenge to make up a poem on the fly with words the students shout: “Gummy bear. Guard. Black. Spare.” With each word, he strung together a convincing free-verse poem.

“There’s no right or wrong way to be creative,” Kammeraad said. “You don’t need technology to create. You’re more powerful than any computer.”

(l to r) Fourth-graders Taylor Marlatt, Isaiah Reister and Emily Gonzalez-Berrero say they will try their hand at writing poems

Kammeraad and his puppet troupe travel throughout Michigan, the Midwest and the East Coast. He’s being doing it full-time since 1999. He started the troupe after his grandmother gave him a journal as a Christmas gift when he was still a student at Grand Valley State University.

“I realized I had some poems in me, and that led to creating poems into songs, which led to the crossing of paths with a lady who makes puppets,” Kammeraad said. “I decided I wanted to do something with poems and puppets.”

CONNECT

Kevin Kammeraad

Rhyme Zone

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