Celebrate Creativity!

Summer Creativity Challenge

Riveride - Cardboard Challenge v7 - 1024x768Let’s celebrate creativity, inquisitiveness, and innovation! Children of all ages (and those with big shoes who love them) are invited to explore the natural resources in your place as well as dig through your recycling bin and challenge yourself and your children (no matter the age) to design and build anything that can be imagined. Yes, it can be that simple.

Invite family, friends and neighbors over to build, play, laugh, learn and strengthen community throughout the summer and beyond.

Consider the learning related to ethics exploration and community-building that are possible when the design and building becomes not exclusively product-focused, but primarily process-oriented.

Check out our 2015 video:

Design Learning

Riveride - Cardboard Challenge v8 - 1024x768Design learning is a creative, active process where the designer is investigating, imagining and innovating potential solutions to the problem at hand.

Whole system design learning:

– Integrates knowledge with experiential learning
– Focuses on patterned learning processes
– Connects learning and life
– Inspires creativity and active critical thinking
– Playfully changes the “story” of community

Integrating whole systems thinking about our not just our natural resources but our natural relationships into the fun of design learning takes problem-based learning to a new level.

Possibilities are only limited by the creativity of the designer!

Through Stories, Inspiration Grows

Riveride - Cardboard Challenge v5 - Gnat Hat - 1024x768

“Gnat hats” to entice them to the top of the hat instead of around your face. Necessity is the mother of invention!

Move from the local to the global. Share your Cardboard Challenge “story” and inspire others. Post pictures and videos on our shared Google folder.

Please label the pictures and videos in the format: Name of the Creation_Designer’s Name. Add pictures of not just the end products you and your children create, but also the creation process!

As part of photo submissions we ask that you consider submitting a 30 second video, an elevator speech of sorts, about the what, how and why behind the creation. You can submit your photos and videos anytime, but NLT September 30, 2016. Need tips to make a high quality video? Click here.

On the designated “day of play” (aka Global Cardboard Challenge Day) in October and in celebration and in support of Imagination Foundation, PERMIE KIDs will post a compilation video of all the pictures and videos sent in showing the innovation, playfulness and creativity of our young designers from around the world for all to enjoy.

Creativity Challenge Ideas!

Riveride - Cardboard Challenge v9 - 1024x768One of the best ways to help children explore how to reduce, reuse, repair and recycle by designing and building what they dream is to model this behavior. The summer creativity challenge is not just for children. Calling all adults to get hands-on and minds-on, too!

For those with big shoes who may need help reconnecting with their natural curiosity and an attitude of playfulness (*ahem, that would be us adults), here are a few challenges to consider:

Build a cardboard boat, take it out in a stream, pool or lake and test it. Does it float? For how long? How much weight do you think it can hold? Or, better yet, challenge someone else to a cardboard boat contest.

Make a marble roller coaster using recycled wood products. For example, think about using toothpicks, used paper, cardboard, Popsicle sticks, dowels, sticks and bamboo. You may also need twine or wire, hot glue and maybe even extra construction materials like PVC or rubber piping that can be re-purposed. Can you get it to do a loop the loop? What are the physics concepts that come into play? What forms of energy do you need to design to catch, store, and then use to get your desired results? What do you observe? How does your design change before you accomplish you goal? What resources (living and nonliving) do you choose to use and why?

Dig through your recycle bin. Create an instrument and play it. Maybe you make a one-man band? Or, what about starting a band? Recycled band! Get a group together and have each one design a different instrument – bottle cap castanets, rain stick, drum, toilet paper roll shakers? Who will write the music? Will the tempo be adagio, moderato, allegro? What ideas or moods will your music express? Is there a crescendo? Maybe someone wants to dance or sing as well as play an instrument. Who will conduct or is it all improvisation? What does this do for exploring how we can use and value diversity?

Build a solar oven. Go foraging and bake something that you and your children harvested together. What materials can you reuse for this? Cardboard box? Black paper? Aluminum foil? What shape will you make your oven and why? What are you going to harvest and what will you bake? How long did it take? Would it take a different amount of time if you were living somewhere else in the world? Why or why not? What will you do again and what will you do differently for your next solar oven design?

Construct a water wheel. What materials can you reuse for this? You may want to consider cardboard tubes, aluminum cans or plastic bottles, wooden sticks or dowels, paper. Might need some string or tape as well. Pour water on it. Does it turn?

One last idea… what about using 6-8 items from your recycle bin or that is in surplus in nature and design something the world didn’t know it was missing because as Andrea Beaty wrote in Iggy Peck Architect, There are worse things to do in grade two than to spend your time building a dream.”

Want More Ideas?

Sign up for our newsletter. In each newsletter throughout the summer we will include a new cardboard challenge idea.

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Check out our recommended resources page for useful resources. Some of our favorite books re: Summer Creativity Challenge include:

  • Organic Artist by Nick Needo
  • Junk Rethunk by Brian Yanish
  • Weslandia by Paul Fleischman
  • Not a Box as well as Not a Stick by Antoinette Portis
  • Nothing to Do by Douglas Wood

Remember, through stories, inspiration grows! Share your “story” and inspire others by uploading pictures and videos of the creation process as well as your child(ren)’s final creations to our shared Google folder to be included in the 2016 video.

Gratitude & Inspiration

Where did the idea for our Summer Creativity Challenge come from? It was inspired and the grew out of something called the Cardboard Challenge. The Cardboard Challenge, now an annual international event, was inspired by a 9-year-old boy named Caine who designed a cardboard arcade business.

Now playful building with recyclable materials is an annual, global event presented by Imagination Foundation. We in the PERMIE KIDs community integrate not just natural resources, but natural relationships and extend it through the summer, a time ripe for cultivating community in meaningful ways.

The Cardboard Challenge is now an annual, GLOBAL event presented by Imagination Foundation. Kids of all ages all over the world are invited to design and build anything they can dream up using cardboard, recycled materials, and imagination. Then, on a designated Saturday in October the designers (our children) invite others from their community to share, perhaps play, and celebrate creativity and play.

What happens when our children’s voices, interests, and talents are honored and valued? They are inspired to ask questions and explore themselves and this world naturally!

Caution: Kids at Play!

Embrace an attitude of playfulness.

What are our children creating? Check out Mateo’s Cardboard Guinea Pig Maze Challenge. So fun!

And the winner is…

Bbbrroooom, bbrroooom! Speed racer coming through!

Lisa’s daughter make a race car with a large cardboard box, some paper towel tubes, wrapping paper, and some bubble wrap.

IMG_4916 IMG_4915

Life-size “monster” that made with Daddy that my children enjoy challenging to a sword fight on an almost daily basis. Guess who usually wins!

Monster Monster v3 - Up Close

Inquisitiveness from Tim and Michelle’s boy, Marek… how does a volcano work? Cool project.

DSC09874 DSC09870

Speaking of Tim and Michelle’s son, watch this awesome video of Marek (5 years old) who designed and completed this innovative project as part of his personalized learning plan.

Triangular basket. What a great opportunity to talk about fractions and proportions since we doubled (folding cardboard strips in half) the thickness because my son is worried about how much weight it can hold. Well, we put that question to the test by using the basket to harvest grapes!

Woven Cardboard Basket v3 Woven Cardboard Basket v4

October… Halloween costumes: Spiderman (version 1 and then a revised mask made in collaboration with Daddy) and four Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle masks and shells. Colors, textures, and shapes all in a fun, self-designed project. Shh, Grandpa doesn’t know that he will be Leo, the leader of the Ninja Turtles this Halloween!

Spiderman Costume - v1 Spiderman Costume - v2 - Mask

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Costumes v2 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Costumes

Look the other way and what does a 20 month old do? Reuse paper already drawn on to form a path. It’s the simple things, sometimes, that can bring much joy.

Self-regulation chart to help my three-year-old decide when and how many desserts to eat each week.

Self-Regulation Dessert Chart - Up-Close




Making paper from scratch paper? The texture that results from squeezing out the water between the kitchen towels is makes for fun watercolor paper!

Paper v1 Paper v3

Paper v6 Paper v9

Are we creating eco-monsters?! Ha!

Collecting Boxes for Swale

PERMIE KIDs is grateful for the support and collaboration of ECO City Farms and Community Forklift, as well as Caine’s Arcade and Imagination Foundation for the inspiration. For more information on these organizations, please listen to PERMIE KIDs Podcast 307.

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