The idea is simple!
Think with Things is promoting everyday objects and their connected learning possibilities. Through years of observing and working in educational settings I have come to one conclusion. Things that help us think and learning are all around us, we just need to unlock their potential. We already have all the materials we need to engage and create amazing educational outcomes for each and every person.
For more than 6 years I have carried boxes of ‘things’ into every workshop, training, and discussion. And I have learnt that, children and adults alike, become more and more engaged, communicative, creative and inspired when they work with “things”.
So, I have made it my goal to promote and...
So what are these amazing things? Are they expensive, rare or fragile?
They are simply found objects, bottle tops, corks, buttons, things from everyday life, you probably throw them away without thinking twice. For our children, however, they are treasures, things that they keep in their pockets. A rock from a walk in the woods, a bottle top from the side walk.
These things are much more than stuff that clutters adult surroundings. We have seen their potential as amazing thinking tools and we believe children see this potential as well. They collect things, keep them safe, tell stories with them, and use them to build and design wonderful new worlds.
These THINGS not only fill up their pockets, they fuel their imagination and build their knowledge.
When it is time to learn, we tend to take these precious things away. We ask children to empty their pockets and often their minds, in order to be fully focused and ready to learn. But are they? Why are more and more children disengaged with learning?
Some educationalists consider disengagement to be one of the biggest challenges facing education today. We need new tools and techniques that work for ALL children to engage their interest.
Emily was a quiet 3 year old in a Belgian school. Her teacher thought she might need learning support as she never engaged in any classwork, until we came in one day and asked a group of children to group the things.
At Think with Things we dreamt of capturing children’s attention and sense of wonder during structured learning. Not unlike those things in their pockets, encouraging things to become thinking tools in education.
We not only love things, we also love technology and the wonderful opportunity it gives to organize and plan, spread ideas, connect thoughts, and capture information..
In February 2015 we conducted workshops with over 100 children in 4 different primary schools in Brussels. The challenge was to TELL and CAPTURE a story using things and tablets. The following video shows the process of learning through telling stories with everyday objects and how technology became just one of the tools to capture it. It is lovely to hear the stories the children are telling and how the teachers experienced the workshop. This film was presented at the UNESCO mobile week in partnership with we.learn.it
Between Feb 2nd and March 23rd we had 171 applications to our first pilot program. They came from over 20 different countries UK to Australia and India to Nigeria. It showed us how ready educators are for a like-minded community and a tool to spread the amazing learning outcomes that come from using found objects. Our 6 week pilot began on April 20th with 50 of these educators. Below you can see some of their comments.
"Playing with things awakens the inner genius in every child." - Deb, Oregon
"One important thing I noticed today was that the boys, in general, are more fully engaged in these sessions than usual...." - Carola, Brussels
"I was amazed by the imagination children demonstrated and the engagement and interest children showed in using these objects" - Kielly, Indonesia
"It was such an awesome surprise as the quietest unresponsive girl in class was the first to volunteer telling a story." - Timi, Nigeria
"I was so impressed with the links she'd made to the world around her, literacy, science and she'd managed to create her own problem and find a solution!" - Carola, Brussels
Julie Anne Gilleland Living in Belgium. Brings 14 years expertise designing educational environments, products and experiences. She founded a non-profit 7 years ago, where she developed the methodology ‘Material Thinking’ which is the foundation of our products.
Isobel Demangeat Living in the UK. Brings 13 years expertise in designing & UX for on-screen interactions in e-learning, mobile devices and future technologies with a focus on user experience of digital to real world interactions.
Pam Elwood-Lead of Educational Methods Living in Iowa, Pam bring an amazing educational background of over 30 plus years of working with children, families and teachers in search of wonder and believes in play as the primary curriculum.
Allie Bishop Pasquier-Lead Early Childhood Educator Living in Washington, Allie brings experience as a preschool classroom teacher in a variety of educational settings with a strong interest in learning through hands-on, open-ended play with a passion for created curated collections to enhance learning.
Our journey to bring this idea to life began in 2014, when we were one of 7 winning teams chosen as the top new education technology companies in Europe. This backing enabled us to create our business plan, make contacts and expand our knowledge of the Edtech start up world.