Who wants an Automatic Pizza Hat? How about a machine that eats your nightmares? This Christmas, every man, woman, and child will want a Dog Cannon (available in seven colors). The possibilities are endless for what is one of my favorite projects for my 4th grade students. Each child is tasked with coming up with an idea for a new invention (It needs to be something that has never existed), and design a printed advertisement.
In preparation for this endeavor, we took a lot of time looking at existing advertisements. We evaluated them on their general effectiveness and broke them down into common elements such as logos, slogans, deals, models, product name, and more. We then took some time to brainstorm ideas for our own new inventions and considered which elements we should include in our own design.
Overall, I find this to be a pretty effective lesson for the beginning of the year. Students can get wildly creative and weird with their invention ideas, and then we get them to think about those ideas in a concrete way with professional considerations through the genre of advertising. I tend to keep this project simple as far as media - using things they are comfortable with like markers, crayons, and color pencils, but it could easily be adapted to be more challenging. Collage and mixed media could offer some interesting possibilities here.
In regards to always trying to make improvements, I find that I run into one common challenge with getting the best work out of students for many assignments. Many students tend to look at work as a task akin to filling up a bucket. Students get a piece of paper, and they might feel that once they have filled it with "stuff" they are done. It is an issue. With one of my classes that I see right before lunch, I made the analogy with food and cooking. Sure you could fill up on just plain dough, but isn't a good pizza much better? Turn in a good pizza. It seemed to click with some of them, but the battle is constant.
As we are finishing this project, I find myself looking for ways to get passed a common issue.