Make Words with Things! Activity to Exercise Creativity and Perspective Taking

words and photos Mijeong Takahashi

Below, I mention being resourceful and making do with what one has. This process of making do and solving problems with what is available was coined “bricolage” by Claude Levi-Strauss in his book Savage Mind (1966), taken from the French word, “bricoler.” Levi-Strauss describes bricoleurs (people who bricolage) as individuals who do not seek specific materials but rather work with materials at hand to perform their tasks. It’s a great exercise to stretch your creativity!

Children (and adults) are naturally creative, but it helps to provide situations that make it easier for them to practice creativity. In contemplating how to provide such opportunities to individuals and families of any background and circumstance, I thought about what could be done with what people had so that they didn’t need to acquire new things.

Looking around my home, I realized that I could have fun playing with objects to make words! By using objects to spell out words, you and your children would be practicing creativity but also practicing looking at objects from different perspectives. Furthermore, by doing this with multiple people, everyone would also be learning to see things from other people’s perspectives.

No person is an island, and diverse, harmonious communities are important environments for happy individuals and families. In all relationships (including those that make up communities), it is necessary for people to be able to see from the other’s perspective. Through this activity, not only have fun using objects for words but discover new ways to look at things both by yourself and through your children.

Pick a single word for your whole family or words for individuals or pairings depending on the children’s age and spelling capabilities and gather items from around the house (or wherever you are) to spell out the word(s).

It is important to be resourceful and make do with what you have and not go out and buy items, to stretch your creativity as much as you can. To note, have your children get as wild as they want about what object(s) they use, but have them be mindful of the objects and be responsible for using them (is it theirs? Will it break? Can it be put back?)

  1. Pick a word or words for the group(s) and/or individuals (usually fun to do one for everyone and see what different ways people can construct a word)
  2. Have everyone look around for objects that look like the letters in their word. This is where your children (and you) practice creativity as well as looking at things from different angles (literally). An object could look like a capital “A” from one angle but like a capital “I” from another. Additionally, if you have a light source, you and your children could play with silhouettes by strategically placing items at different distances and positions Tip! For a challenge, you could make rules such as that everyone can use only one item per letter
  3. Have everyone spell out their word by placing their items in the proper order
  4. Display and enjoy the creativity that was put in to create the word #wordsoutofobjects Spin-off: Go outside with your children and take photos of individual objects/letters instead of actually gathering the objects into one place. Print the photos and place them to spell out words.


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