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Magnificent Persistence

October, 2020

This term I planned a unit on books about people who created different things.

I do not want to use the word inventor or scientist, because I wanted to include creation of anything...something STEM related or a food item, a piece or art or writing or a garden anything that required innovation that stemmed out of a need.

I have quite a few books lined up and was excited about starting this unit. My idea in planning this unit was to share with my students that every creation often comes with a lot of trial and error, observation, retrial, frustration, persistence before the sweet taste of satisfaction and success. In today’s world, when something does not work out, the norm is to chuck it aside, and move to something completely different. I hoped through my selection of a range of picture books, I could help them see: * That making mistakes is part of learning. * That often the best ideas come from a need. * That trying and failing is not failure, but giving up is.

Then by pure chance I read the book ‘THE MOST MAGNIFICENT THING’ written and illustrated by Ashley Spires. On reading it, I was thrilled. Here was exactly the book I was looking for, one that showed that there was value in failure. . A girl and her dog are best friends who do everything together, exploring the neighbourhood, racing on her scooter and making things together...the doggie and indispensable assistant. On day the girl gets an make ‘THE most MAGNIFICENT thing”.

Plans are drawn up, material put together and the work begins. She works hard, joining things together, measuring, examining...TAA DAA...the thing does not look very magnificent. It’s all wrong! But that doesn’t seem to be a problem for the little girl who tries again and again. Soon frustration turns to anger and then into a full blown temper tantrum. But just when the girl plans on giving up, her friend the dog suggests a walk. This is exactly what she needed to calm down. When she returns with her head cleared, she realises that in each of her previous attempts, she has got some part of it is not all wasted. She had done a right thing here in one, a right thing there in another and she figured that if she put all those right parts together, you can create something truly magnificent...even if it's not the original idea you had to begin with. This book really seemed to draw in most of the children. They could identify with it very easily.

There was a buzz of excitement when I asked them if there was something magnificent that they wanted to make. The only requirement was that it needed to stem from a need. They spent time thinking and then shared their ideas and detailed plans together with all the equipment and supplies they would need.

Some had grand plans like rockets, bird wings and a rock-throwing spinosaurus robot...and boy could they explain why they just HAD to make them. Some had simple ideas like magnets to make the fridge look pretty, a paper pouch, a pen holder, to a healthy immunity boosting juice. Others really thought long and hard and a cashew nut dispenser urgently needed as was a pair of slippers with detachable foam shapes on the sole which could help make squishy wet shapes on the floor, noodles with a huge variety of flavours, a camouflage suit that could change like a chameleon, to a ‘pillow-track’ which would cushion a fall off the skateboard. We ended the session sharing words that would best describe the little girl and the dog. This is a book that brings joy and really draws the children in.

“Do not fear failure but rather fear not trying.”

Roy T. Bennett

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