Students experience different ways of learning by exploring a known thing, in this case a card box.


  • to explore innovative learning by brainstorming creative ideas about a simple object
  • to experience different ways of learning
  • to combine metaphoric and experiential learning
  • to achieve a common goal in groups and to share the results with others

Material needed

  • 6 cardboard boxes (one for each group)


Room setting: enough space for 6 small groups and a stage-like part of the room for the presentations.

Step by step description

1. Learning about the box … (10 min.)

Students are instructed to learn by heart and loudly repeat the definition of the box:

„A box is a container with a flat base and sides, typically square or rectangular and having a lid“.


Encourage some students to repeat the definition. Ask:

„Do you think this way of learning is inspiring, exciting, fun?“


2. Learning in a different way (40 min.)

Students are divided into 6 groups, each one receives a box. The task for the small groups is the following:

  • You have 27 minutes to find out 27 different ways how to use your boxes.
  • Choose the 10 best and most creative ways.
  • Be prepared to show your 10 best ways to the other groups.

3. Dialogue sharing (30 min.)

Two groups are confronted on stage with the task to share their 10 best ways on how to use the boxes. They are asked to do it in a „dialogue“: after one group shares one of its solutions it gets frozen. Then the other group introduces their solution on stage. The next two groups enter the stage.

4. Trios and double-trios about Innovative Learning (30 min.)

a) After the presentations trios are formed (with students that have not been together in a group before). They are asked to share their reflections: How did we feel during this exercise? What have we learned about learning? They take notes on the reflections and collect them in a joint box.

b) In the second step two trios join and form a group of 6 participants. They exchange their findings from the previous step and come up with a joint statement on learning. The statements are exchanged and shared in plenary.

Some examples of statements about Innovative Learning:

  • „Learning by doing“ in a friendly environment increases the motivation for learning.
  • Even a box can be a teacher.
  • Learning is like a box waiting to be opened.

Reflection with the students / questions for debriefing

  • Did our group create an open and creative environment where everyone felt safe to contribute?
  • Do I have an open mind to other ideas?
  • What supports me to develop creative ideas?

Reference / original source of the method

This activity was facilitated by Darko Marković during his workshop „Field of Experience: Innovative Learning” at the aces Academy 2013 in Senec, Slovak Republic.

Further tips and resources

The idea for this activity is inspired by the “Paper Clip experiment on creativity” (Ken Robinson Paperclip)