Abstraction is formed by filtering the information content of a concept or observable phenomenon and selecting only the aspects which are relevant for a particular purpose. At CBM this particular purpose was to gather images as part of a photography scavenger hunt (and win a bag of chips for your effort). I noticed that kids loved going around the library taking pictures with our camera and tripod, so I created a list of things for them to shoot, such as: a triangle, a “dark” picture, a “light” picture, a circle, and a shadow. When they asked me what a “light” picture meant, I left it up to them to interpret the meaning. I also had a few other items on the list which made them use the camera in a more narrative way. One of the instructions was to tell a story using four or more pictures.
I’ve found that thinking conceptually is a challenge for the kids I work with. When planning out projects they often get hung up on details and have a hard time seeing the big picture. I hope that activities like these stimulate abstract thinking and lead to more creative problem-solving in whatever endeavors they pursue in the future.
A couple kids enjoyed the scavenger hunt so much that they came up with their own list which included such concepts as: “flower”, “gold”, “4 feet or 8 feet”, “light”, “dirt”, “41 books”, and “a selfie with a tree”.