The Pink Tank House

Today in my project-based learning classroom, my second graders began the Not-a-Box project, based on the book Not a Box. We read the book, and students gathered in groups of four or five, based on their table numbers, and began to create something out of a box. They had to work together to decide what it should be. Then they worked together to create it.

One group consisted of three girly-girls and one very boy-ish boy. He’s into army guys and explosions. They’re into Barbies. He wanted an army box. They wanted a Dream House. they wanted pink. He wanted brown. Yesterday, they completely over-rode him. The result: a very frustrated boy, four busy girls, and one very pink box.

Today when we began to work on it, I asked him, “What is your idea for this box?” “Armies,” he said. “War.”

“War gives me bad dreams,” one girl said. “War makes me feel sad,” said another.

“Fine,” he growled, and stormed away. I found him outside the classroom at a picnic table. “What would you like the girls to know?” I asked.

“Nothing,” he growled, his hands over his ears, teeth gritted.

“Your voice counts, too,” I said. “You need to tell them what you want. Do you want me to help you?”

Slowly he got up, and we went inside. “Bradley has a message for you,” I told the girls. “Tell them what you would like to see in the box.”

“I want there to be some army parts in the box,” he said.

The girls began to protest, like crows cawing.Bradley put his hands over his ears.  I put up my hand. “Bradley’s ideas matter, too,’ I said. “How can you include his idea into your house?” The girls looked at each other. “Well….”

“We could put army guys inside the house.” He shook his head.

“We could glue army guys on the outside, like guards.” He looked up. Suddenly, his eyes were alive. “I know!” he said. “We could put army rollers on the bottom, like a conveyer belt!”

“It could be a tank-house!” a girl cried.

“With a gun on top!” he said. “A shooter on top of the house!”

In the end, the guns were nixed. But the house went onto cardboard rollers, like a tank, and the house became a dreamy, pink tank-house.

And everyone was happy.

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