Activity: Crumpled Reminder

This activity helps participants understand that mistakes help us learn. It can used with students or during a PD.

Mistakes help us learn. However, many people hate making mistakes because they worry that making mistakes means that they aren't smart, or that others will think they are not smart. It can be important to help students reinterpret the meaning of mistakes by explaining that you love mistakes because that's how you learn. 

This activity can be used in your classroom or as an activity during a PD to highlight and reinforce the idea that mistakes are important for learning and for growing our intelligence.

Activity (10-20 min)

  1. (2 min) Ask participants/students to write about a mistake they made this week and how it made them feel.
  2. (2 min) Give each student a fresh piece of paper, ask them to crumple it up and throw it at the board with the feelings they have when they make a mistake. 
  3. (3 min) Ask them to retrieve the paper, un-crumple it, and color each line with different colors. 
  4. (3 min) Ask students what they think those lines represent. Explain that the lines represent all the synaptic activity that happens when a mistake is made
  5. (1 min) Ask participants/students to keep the paper and stick it into a notebook or folder to look at when they make a mistake. This physical reminder prompts students to use mistakes to strengthen their brain every time they open their notebook.
  6. (5-10 min) OPTIONAL - Lead a discussion using prompts from this resource: Classroom Discussion about Mistakes
    1. How do you feel when you make a mistake? Why?
    2. How do you think other people see you when you make a mistake?
    3. Have you ever discovered something new from making a mistake?
    4. Have you ever felt proud of making a mistake?
    5. Has a mistake ever made you think more deeply about a problem? (You can start by talking about a non-academic setting, and then talk about how the lessons apply to academics.)

*Learn more about the value of mistakes by visiting Celebrating Mistakes on the Mindset Kit*

 Give feedback