Lesson Plan: Creative Problem Solving
Frederic Remington, United States
Students will examine Remington’s The Cheyenne and identify the challenges he faced in creating a horse that appears to be airborne. They will then work with a partner and go through a similar problem-solving process to create their own airborne sculpture.
21st Century Learning Skills Addressed:
- Critical Thinking and Reasoning
- Information Literacy
2009 Colorado Academic Standards Primary Area Addressed:
- Observe and Learn to Comprehend
- Envision and Critique to Reflect
- Invent and Discover to Create
- Relate and Connect to Transfer
Additional 2009 Colorado Academic Standards Addressed:
- Oral Expression and Listening
Length of Lesson
Students often “give up” when faced with problems for a myriad of reasons. Learning that facing problems is normal, and learning about adults who have been creative in their thinking and have worked hard to solve a problem can help empower students when they confront similar situations in the future.
Students will be able to:
- explain the problems Remington faced when he started sculpting in bronze and how he worked with others to solve these problems;
- overcome challenges faced when making an airborne sculpture; and
- work with others to complete a task.
- One set of the following for every three to four students: three paper cups, 10 index cards, four clothespins
- An assortment of recycled materials, including bottles, food containers, etc.
- Model Magic, Sculpey, or clay for each student to make a sculpture (amounts will vary based on plastic containers used)
- Books and/or magazines with pictures of airborne animals (National Geographic is a great resource)
- About the Art sheet on The Cheyenne (found at the end of the lesson plan) or student access to this part of Creativity Resource online
- One color copy of the painting for every four students, or the ability to project the image onto a wall or screen
- Warm-up: Divide students up into small groups of three or four. Have them use the materials provided to build a free-standing structure that is as tall as possible. You have two minutes to brainstorm with the people in your groups and four minutes to build the structure. Debrief the problem-solving activity with the students. What worked and what didn’t? How did working together help you build the tallest structure possible?
- Show students The Cheyenne and share with them key points from the About the Art sheet about the problem-solving Remington engaged in with the foundry. Define “airborne” and discuss the challenge Remington faced in making his airborne horse sculpture. Remington cleverly used a cape to balance the weight of his sculpture. Brainstorm other objects he could have used instead. Have students compare their problem solving strategies from the warm-up to Remington’s process.
- Tell students that they are going to make their sculpture of an airborne animal. Allow students to work with a partner. Have them start by looking through books and/or magazines to choose an airborne animal. Have them decide on a support, just as Remington chose to include a cape on his Cheyenne.
- Give them a choice of recycled materials, some Model Magic (or other sculpting product). The sculpture will be more abstract and less detailed than The Cheyenne but the primary goal is for them to take the problem of having to make a sculpture from recycled materials and to make their animal appear to be airborne.
- Debrief the experience. First compare the similarities and differences of their process to Remington’s. What limitations did they have?