What is it about a piece of ribbon that can entertain a first grader for an immeasurable amount of time? You can put it in your hair. You can decorate your artwork. Or you can attach it to a pipe cleaner and make a combination sword-baton-lightsaber and use it to duel with your neighbor. Better yet, I am told that they can be fishing rods or magic wands.

One of the best lessons I learn when I dispense, ribbon, paper, stickers, and pipe cleaners is that kids have more creativity than we ever imagine. Maybe we would be better equipped if we attempt the tasks that we assign to our students. More importantly, those tasks might be better taught if we learn them at the same time. The danger of this option is imitation; if the teacher does it, I’ll just copy hers and that way, I know that I’m okay.

It’s unlikely that most contemporary educators investigate the infinite possibilities of ribbon or colored paper. What I’m suggesting is that if I spend some time in that endeavor, I can make good suggestions. Instead of doing colored drawings, why not attempt origami? If you can make a necklace for mom, why not do what one of my first graders did – stick a collection of rubber shapes on the ribbon. Or you can weave ribbon colors. Or what else can you do?

We must be thorough about approving and complimenting all efforts. I’m forever telling students that there is no bad art and everything that they create is worthwhile and beautiful.

The message that we must always convey is that you have no limits in terms of what you are able to create. If you want to build your own Disneyland, let me know how I can help. If you want to devise a vessel to send yourself to Mars, tell me how you want it to look.

Kids hear more “no” in the course of a day than “yes.” My desire is to reverse that unfortunate reality and remove the limits, boundaries, ceilings, criticism, and any other restraints. Shalom.

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