It’s Like Magic When It Happens!


This time of year is my favorite….no, not because of the holidays, or because of the vacation next week…it’s because things are starting to click and hum in my classroom! And we just finished one of my most favorite assignments with my kids.

We have been in our 3D Unit for a few weeks now, I shared a couple weeks ago about The EmPowerment of Yet and working with clay. We then moved into Paper Sculpture and students transformed paper into 3D in one day and created “how to” videos on Seesaw. The next two days, students created a paper sculpture – so something beyond their initial transformation (for many kids a ball) into something “more art like.”

We then dove into our Recycled Fashion assignment. I’ve done this for a few years and it’s nothing innovative – but kids love doing it and it’s something that the adults in the building look forward to as well! I’ve done the “choose a material” thing differently each year but this year I think was the most successful. I created a kahoot! quiz for the groups to compete with. The groups chose their material in order of their “winning” –  the quiz was a review of the information from the clay and paper sculpture assignments. And kids LOVED IT. It was insane how much they loved it. Competing and knowing they knew the answers. Very rarely do I have things were there’s only one answer, but maybe for procedural things (clay set up, maybe paint set up!) this could be something that’s fun and engaging. So students’ chose their material from a long list and then began sketching out their idea. I knew their sketches probably wouldn’t be the same as their final outcome but I thought it was important they began to think about their garment.

The next 4 days were a whirlwind of materials, tape, and staples. Students were working hard together to figure out the best ways to attach materials without having tape left in the open, how to curve maps and paper bags around shoulders without things ripping.

The most amazing thing about this assignment was watching students work together and give each other constructive feedback in the moment. Students from other classes came in during lunch and reminded groups to transform the material beyond the initial garment by “add some flowers to the back of the dress”.

These girls transformed trashbags into this gorgeous ballgown – but they used the string inside (you know, the one we pull to tie the bag together?) to create these incredible details and a halter.


This group REALLY transformed newspapers into this amazing ballgown that actually fit her. I jokingly told her she should wear it to prom and she responded that she might actually do it!

The transformation of magazines into this super interesting and beautiful dress was astonishing to watch. They figured out how to make the balls stick using less than wonderful tape and created basically suspenders in order to keep the heaviness up.

And then…. this.


This is a group of students who for 20 full minutes, two days in a row, were ALL completely engaged in this work. And it happened in 3 different class periods. That never happens. Ever. Not all kids. Not for a solid block of time. It wasn’t quiet – engagement isn’t quiet. It was humming. Kids knew what needed to happen. It was incredible. This is the magic I’m referring to.

And then yesterday we had our fashion show. The culmination of 5 days of hard work.

Students shared with the group What they made, What they made it out of, What was the hardest part, and What they would’ve changed. The videoed their sharing and their model walking and uploaded it to Seesaw. Students assessed the other groups using a Google Form. Magic. Pure Magic.

This last video I’m going to share with you has a story. This group struggled – a couple of kids were absent a few of the days. On Friday (the last day of working),  he found that many of his pieces were missing. He was upset. And that’s putting it mildly. He was furious. He refused to work for awhile. I spoke to him quietly and told him I really thought he should keep going and if he needed help, I’d help. He told me to go away. Another group saw that he was frustrated and not working and they came over and told him he shouldn’t give up. That he should keep going and if he wanted help, they would help him. The frustrated kid said thanks, but no thanks. Then, another group completed their piece. And saw that frustrated kid was beginning to do a lot of work. They all went over and just said, how can I help? And they helped. They got it done. It was magic. More magic. Happy tear filled magic.

What sort of magic is happening in your classrooms? How can you support your own kids to create magic? 

1 thought on “It’s Like Magic When It Happens!

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