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If you’ve been following along, we are preparing for the CHITAG Young Inventor Challenge in November. Feel free to use this series as a basis for your own inventions class.

I was super excited when I heard about the Young Inventor Challenge. What a fun and exciting experience for the kids! I knew I definitely wanted to do it with my daughter, but I also wanted to include as many kids as I could! So I decided to teach a class at our homeschool co-op and document what steps we are taking on the blog for anyone else that wants to participate.

Last week we got in the inventor mindset by reading about inventions and inventors.

This week we are getting the creative juices flowing and learning how to brainstorm so we can come up with the perfect toy or game invention.

What you’ll need:

  • A blank notebook for your log book
  • Pens, pencils, whatever you prefer to write or draw with!
  • Your brain

brain•storm |ˈbrānˌstôrm|
using the collective mind to meet goals and objectives, find solutions, overcome challenges, and solve problems
a brainstorming session.

Brainstorming is meant to get ideas pouring out of your mind like a crazy thunderstorm!  There are no right or wrong ideas, no matter how silly, serious or impossible they seem!

The 3 Rules of Brainstorming

  1. There are no BAD ideas…only MORE ideas
    When brainstorming, an idea should never be judges or dismissed. It can only be saved or added on to.
  2. The “Yes! AND…” rule
    Since there are no bad ideas, the word NO is strictly forbidden. When you think of an idea or hear one from another person, you must always respond with “YES! And…” followed by a suggestion to add to the list.
    Billy: “What if we did something with mannequins kicking themselves in the head?
    Riley: “YES! And…what if every time the mannequin kicks itself it sings a song?”
    Audrey: “YES! And…what if you have to guess the song before the timer buzzes?”
  3. Write EVERY IDEA down
    No matter how crazy…in fact, you should write it even larger if it’s especially ridiculous!

Brainstorm Method #1: Brainstorm Starter

Use a brainstorm starter! We used a great Brainstorm Starter from the CHITAG Young Inventor guidebook. The Brainstorm Starter uses Lateral Thinking – basically, by trying to fit random attributes together takes your brain sideways instead of a normal, straight logical line of thought.

You can get the Brainstorm Starter we used HERE.

We really got some silly ideas out of this method. Some of my favorites were:

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Have your kids make 10 silly sentences with the brainstorm starter.
Then read them one by one and brainstorm for 3 minutes, whatever pops into your imagination. Write all your ideas in your notebook!

Brainstorm Method #2: Provocative Propositions

Provocative Propositions are not as risqué as they sound. They are just a type of statement or challenge that makes us think about existing things from a whole new perspective. Try to brainstorm using the following prompts to come up with more ideas for your log book.

  1. Opposite and Upside Down
    Pick a popular toy or game. Now, what if you turned it upside down or made it d other opposite of what it’s supposed to do(for example, an upside down surf board, or changing Mouse Trap so that the mice are catching the humans.) Use the “YES! And…” process and write down the new ideas the pop out!
  2. Evolve It.
    No; we’re not talking about Pokémon. Start with a toy or game that already exists and think of 5 ways you could change it. Maybe using different materials, or changing the form (example: fabric cards or adding multiple levels to a previously flat game)
  3. The WORST Idea EVER.
    Come up with an idea so ridiculous or impractical that no one would ever buy it! (example: A Bag of Broken Glass) Then use “YES! And…” . You may be surprised at a great idea that pops out of a ridiculous one.
  4. “I wish I could…”
    Write down 5 things you wish you or your friends and family could do in real life. They can be fantasy –“Fly to Neptune” or more inspirational –“Reverse Climate Change”. Write these into ovals on the Brainstorm Starter and make sentences to get your imagination in gear.
  5. “I’ve always wanted to invent…”
    Sometimes you just know what you want to invent already. Now is the time to write it down.

Some of our kids just knew what they wanted to invent. Others had to really work hard to brainstorm. Every kid is different, so adapt to what works best for them. Use these brainstorm methods to help guide them along the way.
One example of how we adapted to the different kids in the class(ages 6-15):
We had a few kids in the class that were just learning to read and write. So instead of writing things down, they drew their ideas and dictated to me what they were so I could write it down for them. I’m super excited after seeing all the amazing toy and game ideas they came up with!

Next week we will be rating our ideas and picking a toy or game to begin developing.

What were some of your favorite ideas from your brainstorming sessions?
Let us know in the comments below!