Figure it out Friday

This year our province has implemented a new curriculum for K-7.  I feel that this curriculum authentically acknowledges the whole child in education.  One of the best features of our new curriculum are the Core Competencies (Communication, Thinking, Personal and Social) which are woven into all subject areas.  This has been an exciting shift for me and I’ve been playing around with new ways to build the core competencies into our routines.

Using the Creative Thinking Profiles and the Critical Thinking Profiles I have been experimenting with different ways to engage my third grade learners and to scaffold them to analyze and critique their work.

I’ve landed on “Figure it out Friday” (which can change to Mindful Monday, Try it out Tuesday, Wonder Wednesday, Think it through Thursday…you get the idea).  Combining this with a little empowering brain theory and a big dose of growth mindset I basically let the kids loose with whatever I can find for them to tinker with.  There is a reflection sheet that they have to spend some time with at the end of each round.  Each round is about 30 minutes of tinkering/playing and 10 minutes of reflection.  Here are some sample reflection sheets:

Figure it out Friday (downloadable word document)

Try it out Tuesday is AWESOME (downloadable word document)

I have been blessed (and diligent in writing any and every grant I can get my hands on) with a variety of tools for tinkering.  Some of the more techy tools include:



Dash and Dot

Osmo (Numbers, Words, Tangrams, Newton, Masterpiece, Coding)

Some of the low tech tools include:

-duct tape

-random art supplies-glitter, popcycle sticks, stickers, card stock, buttons, ribbon, etc…it changes all the time


-straws and connectors

-Keva block (a huge hit every year)

-one day we took apart an electric pencil sharpener that died and figured out why it doesn’t work anymore!

I’m always on the look out for new tools, let me know if you have any favourites!

So basically, with little to no instruction (just the basics on how to treat the tech gently and my expectations for clean up) I let my grade threes go to it.  They absolutely love it.  Unstructured play gives opportunity for so many different social/emotional skills that are part of the larger picture of education: to help develop great people. They tinker, share, discuss, problem solve and just simply play-the true work of children.

After they have a 2 minute warning, they clean up and return to their desks to reflect. Sometimes I pull sticks from the “sticks of destiny” jar and students share what they have learned, sometimes we just move on to the next round.

At this point in the year (February) they have become a wee bit on the “smarty pants/know it all” end of the spectrum so I have resorted to giving them challenges (which they solve with quite a bit of swagger).  This furthers their independence and learner confidence and I really don’t mind them thinking they know more than their ancient dinosaur teacher…they probably do 🙂

Here’s a link to a Periscope that Dean Shareski took while visiting my students in September:

Figure it out Friday on Periscope with Dean


So that’s “Figure it out Friday” in a nutshell.  What a lovely way to spend a Friday afternoon…or whatever day of the week they twist my rubber arm to let them just play.

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