Thursday, October 06, 2011

its dramatic...

On the subject of creativity running in families, my sisters sent me my mother's recipe for Play-doh which she made for us as children even before Play-doh was marketed as a children's play product. Her recipe is as follows:
Basic ingredient ratios:
2 cups flour
2 cups warm water
1 cup salt
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 Tablespoon cream of tartar (optional for improved elasticity)

Bring water to boil, add dry ingredients and stir.
Add food coloring (or not. Mom often left our playdough uncolored so we could paint what we made with water colors)
Play-doh was first introduced as a wall paper cleaning product and then long after its first use, company executives learned that it was being used as a modelling clay in schools. That discovery in the 1950's launched its marketing as one of the top children's toys of all time. But it is one you can make yourself. My mother's recipe is not the same formula, but works as well and was once in wide use by primary school teachers all across the US before No Child Left Behind legislation and before all teachers were under such pressures from standardized testing.

Yesterday I went to Withrow Springs State Park to whittle with the CSS kids, go for a hike, have dinner and watch "Paper Bag Dramatics" which is a tradition at every CSS camping trip. The idea is this. Each patrol group is given a bag full of costumes and props and compose their own dramatic presentation to share with the other campers. Each patrol group is composed of students from grades 1 through 6 and you can imagine the performances all go astray. The first and second graders all seem willing to steal the show. Normally shy children break free from their own inhibitions when given a costume and the opportunity to entertain. Add to the drama the fact that paper bag dramatics is the last hurrah before roasted marshmallows and getting ready for bed. That means that the performances are held by flashlight and under the headlights of the nearest vehicle, and you can see that each performance is unpredictable and unique. They all devolve into near pandemonium, and so they are an absolute favorite camping activity.

One would hope that educators would all see the value in such things, but we have become a society focused on an educational bottom line. Read, write, cipher. To heck with the rest.

Today we celebrate the life and mourn the passing of one of the world's favorite and greatest college drop outs, Steve Jobs. I have had a mac computer since my purchase of a mac Classic in 1991, and this is being written on my iMac. We human beings have always been connected with each other in such profound ways and the computer has made these connections far more apparent. Steve Jobs is alive still within this keyboard, and in the continued connection you and I have with each other.

Make, fix and create...

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