I was so excited when I found Teaching on Lemon Lane a few year ago. I loved all of the resources I saw on her website, but I was especially excited about The Big Scribb Elephant Challenge. I knew that this would be perfect for my 7th graders. I have since used this activity every term with each of my Career Exploration classes for a total of over 20 times now! This activity is a great team-building activity perfect for those first few weeks of school or when returning from a break.

## SET UP

The set up is super easy because when you download the resource it comes with basically everything you’ll need. I print out all of the papers and then usually have my TA cut them in half for me. I also have my TA cut out a bunch of the blank squares (each class needs 13 blank squares for the picture). I make sure to keep each set of squares separate so that I know I have all of them for each class. I clear a space on my whiteboard for my students to be able to hang up their squares. When the students walk into my class they always grab the papers I have for them by the door. Each student takes one paper to start with. There are 51 squares that need to be drawn and I don’t have 50 students so some students will end up doing more than one.

## INSTRUCTIONS

The only instructions I really give my students are that they needed to copy the picture on their paper onto the bigger square as best as they can. I tell them that all of their squares together are going to create a picture so the better job they do making their drawing match the drawing on their paper, the better the overall picture will look.

Before they begin drawing I tell them to write the number and letter of their drawing NEATLY on the BACK of where the big square is so that when they cut it out they (and everyone else) will still know what number and letter it is. I explain that the number tells them what row the square is in and the letter tells them what column their square is in. I explain they should first draw it in pencil. Sometimes I tell them they can then go over it in black marker so that we could see it better on the board... Other times I don't and let them decide if they will do that later.

Lastly, they need to cut out the big square and go find its place on the board. If they finish and there are more papers left to do in the basket, they are to go get another one and complete it. I also tell them that once everyone has finished drawing their squares and gets them up on the board, there will be 13 holes and that I will then give them 13 blank squares to fill in the holes to complete their picture.

## PROCEDURE

I simply observe as they all work to get their squares on the board. I provide magnets for them to use to put the squares up because they make it easy to move the squares or turn them to be right. As students work, they predict what they think the picture will be. No one ever comes close to guessing it correctly until at least half the squares are up. It's really cool to see some students step up and become leaders. They may help direct people to where their squares went on the board, or help to straighten the squares on already on the board. In some classes I have had students (without me telling them to) label the numbers down the side and the letters across the top so that people wouldn’t be as confused.

After they complete the picture of the elephant they are always all proud. But I ask them to think about what they could do to make it even better. I ask them what could they do to make the picture of the elephant more clear? How could they change just their square(s) to help the overall picture? And then I tell them they need to discuss as a class and come to a class decision on what they are going to do. It's really hard to not help them come to a class decision but I like to see if they can do it on their own.

Some of my classes really struggle to come to an agreement. No one can make a decision. Eventually, each person just takes their own square and does whatever they want to it. When they put them all back up on the board, it definitely changes the way the elephant looked, but it's not unified.

In other classes, they are able to finally come to a class decision about how they are going to make the elephant more clear. But sometimes even if they can agree on what their plan is, they aren't always very clear about HOW they are doing it. For example, if they decide to color the elephant some students get confused about what part of their square is the background and what part is the elephant so they color theirs wrong. Overall though, it usually turns out looking more clear than before.

I have had a few select classes that really impress me. One class decided to color the elephant rainbow. But they were very clear about how they would make that happen. One student wrote on the board what color each row of the elephant should be colored so that the elephant would turnout rainbow. There were also students helping other students to make sure they colored the right part of their square. When they were finished with their elephant they were SO proud. They even wanted to take pictures of it.

## DISCUSSION

In all of my classes, we end the period with a class discussion. I ask them “Why do think I would have you do this activity?” Answers vary but common responses are, teamwork, communication, collaboration, organization, and to show that each person needs to do their part. We talk about how every person has to do their part to make the picture– and not only that but that every person has to do their part well. The better they each did their part, the better the overall picture turned out.

I also ask each class “What went well?”, and “What do you think you could have done differently?” It is amazing that THEY can do the teaching. They are able to self-reflect and realize what could have been better. We also talk about leaders. I ask them “What makes a good leader?” and we discuss that. Every class takes something a little different away from the activity, based on their experience with it, but it is exactly what they need.

I always do this activity before we start our group projects to help them think about how to work with a group. If there's time I like to have them actually write down 3 things they learned from the experience and how they will apply those to working with a group in class.

## TEACHER TIPS

Be sure to print the papers on cardstock so that they are more sturdy!

If you're doing it with multiple classes, print off one set at a time and put a binder clip around the stack so you make sure you don't lose any or mix any up.

Remind students often as they are working on the squares that they need to have the number and letter written on the back of their square before they put it up because if they forget that it won't go as smoothly.

If you have a shorter amount of time than a 75 minute class period you could just have the students complete the picture and not try to improve it, or you could tell them they need to add color to their picture and they just need to decide how they will do that.

I would definitely recommend this resource to any teacher who is looking for their students to communicate, problem-solve, and work together!

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