What if. .?

What if the earth was buffeted daily by high winds? How would this new living condition change life on the planet? What adjustments would we need to make in our daily routines to survive? This is the inspiration behind the delightful awarding-winning animation titled WIND by Robert Loebel, who shows us how inhabitants living in a windy area find a way to deal with their difficult living conditions.

Seeing this film gave me a chuckle and reminded me of a drawing game I once played with my elementary students called “What if..?” It’s a simple game requiring thin black markers, drawing paper and a dozen or so What if? prompts placed in a bowl.

The game begins by passing out paper and markers. Then, have a student choose a prompt from the bowl to read out loud. For example, “What if people were magnetic?” Challenge students to think of ways daily life would change if people were magnetic and to draw their “best” idea. After 10 minutes or so, have the students write the prompt as a caption on their drawings, then collect and stack the drawings off to the side. Next, have a student choose a new prompt from the bowl and repeat the drawing session. Depending on the amount of time available and student interest, continue this routine 3 to 4 times, ending with a prompt that encourages students to come up with their own “What if?” situation to illustrate. Once you’ve completed 4 to 5 rounds, pin the drawings up and share with the class. Lastly, have each student choose his or her favorite “What if?” drawing to show in a school hallway exhibition.

The point of the activity is not to get hung up with teaching drawing; rather, the focus is on generating ideas and having fun with imagining how life might change on earth given different extreme conditions.