Just Have A Go: A Motto for a 21st-Century Education

I am sitting cross-legged on the living room floor surrounded by my sons, some tools, and the GroClock innards.

If you’ve never heard of the GroClock, it’s a special clock designed for young children that lights up and displays a yellow sun once it reaches a pre-set wake-up time. In theory, small children would stay quietly in bed until the sun appears. In practice, my youngest quickly figured out how to press enough buttons to make the sun appear at 4am before bursting into my room and brightly announcing, “The sun is on my clock!”

No, I did not disassemble the GroClock in a sleep-deprived fit of rage. Instead, I purposely took it apart with my sons after watching Gever Tulley’s Ted Talk, 5 Dangerous Thing You Should Let Your Kids Do. Tulley challenges parents to allow children to take apart the first household appliance that stops working.

Why would I accept such a challenge since tinkering with appliances is so far out of my comfort zone?

Because I recently embraced the motto, “Just have a go!

Just Have A Go

I have come to love this British expression as an American living in the U.K. It means to simply give something a try regardless of the outcome.

Don’t worry about failures, worry about the chances you miss when you don’t even try. -Jack Canfield

Our children are growing up in a rapidly changing world. Artificial intelligence and automation are replacing manual jobs.

Change is inevitable. You can’t ignore it. There’s a huge shift taking place right now and it’s disrupting entire industries, businesses and jobs around the world — and it’s called Digital Transformation.

Our children will need to adapt to these changes. Since the rate of change is so rapid, we cannot even begin to predict what their future will look like. What jobs will exist when they are adults? The only thing we can do is prepare them to embrace this change and see it as an opportunity to grow.

Many discussions around the nature of a 21st-century education focus on encouraging creativity, collaboration, critical thinking and communication. The 4 C’s will be critical in the future, but fostering a “have a go” attitude must underpin all of these other soft skills so our children won’t freeze up in the face of change.

The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.” — Alvin Toffler

How do we as parents and educators foster a “have a go” attitude at home and in school?

10 Ways to Foster a Have a Go Attitude at Home:

  1. Make Mistakes– Don’t be afraid to admit you’ve made a mistake in front of your children. Model learning through these mistakes and trying again and again.
  2. Tinker– Enjoy taking things apart, manipulating objects, and putting them back together in new and different ways. If something breaks, take it apart with your children, see how it is made and even have a go fixing it. If you can’t fix it, don’t worry — just enjoy the process. Get a classic set of Lego and hide the instructions. Try to create your own original models. You will find that your children are far better at it than you are.
  3. Go Along With Your Child’s Interests– Give children the freedom to follow their interests whatever they may be. My youngest was obsessed with Halloween. When I finally stopped trying to get him interested in something more educational like dinosaurs and I just went along with his Halloween obsession, he really grew.
  4. Create Things– Create products and learn through the process. Encourage kids to create books, e-books, voice recordings, songs, plays, slow-motion, stop animation, and high speed videos, models out of recycled goods, art, dioramas, etc. Stop worrying about perfection and just let them do it however messy, ugly, or unusual it may be.
  5. Hold an Art and Design Reception At Home or in School – Invite grandparents, friends and neighbors over to eat some snacks and view some art, sculptures, and models made by your children. Hey, modern art isn’t always pretty!
  6. Play with Tech– Allow children supervised play with technology. When my youngest got a child’s version of a Go Pro video camera for Christmas I groaned and wondered how I would find the time to read the online manual and figure it all out. One day I just handed it over to him. Within minutes he had figured out how to do slow motion, stop animation, and fast motion videos simply by pushing buttons and playing around with it.
  7. Cook– Cook together. Try out recipes using the metric system. Look at the numbers for half of a liter, a quarter of a liter, etc. Your child’s math and science teachers will thank you. Let children create their own recipes as well. Maybe they will be the next celebrity chef or invent the food of the future.
  8. Try Out a New Learning Platform Together– My eldest and I are both trying out Khan Academy. He is doing the really amazing “Pixar in a Box” unit and I signed myself up for a refresher course in Algebra. Not only am I brushing up on my numeracy skills, but I am also learning how the program works so that I can help my son with it.
  9. Have a Creative Show and Tell– Designate a moment in the week where each family member can showcase something they have created. This includes the parents. Each evening, a different family member shares something he/she has created. The possibilities are endless. Parents might even share a problem they solved at work.
  10. Take the Pressure Off– This is the most important guideline for encouraging creativity and fostering a willingness to have a go. There is only so much time in the day. Do not beat yourself up if you are not doing all of these great things with your children. Work on adding one idea to your daily routine. It may just be creating a space with accessible art supplies or Lego blocks so that your children can have a go. If they know they will have the opportunity to share their creations with the family they will be far more motivated to create. Who knows — you may even find a new talent or interest in the process as well!

Best Halloween Crafts for Young Children

Best Halloween Crafts for Young Children

It’s my favourite time of year. The leaves are changing colours, the weather is getting cooler (now that I am in the U.K. and no longer living in California ;-), and pumpkin treats have made their appearance in all my favourite coffee shops. It’s almost Halloween!

There are so many cute Halloween crafts to do with young children.  I discovered several when I manned the craft table at our local toddler group.  Here is a list of my all-time favourites including links:

Masking Tape Mummy

Masking Tape Mummy






This is a cute and relatively mess-free craft:


Apple Print Pumpkins

Apple-printed Pumpkins

Just slice some apples in half.  Push a craft stick into the back of the apple to create a handle for your little one to hold. Then dip the apple stamp into orange paint to make pumpkin shapes on your paper.  When the pumpkin shapes dry, draw faces on them with a black sharpie.  https://www.firstpalette.com/Craft_themes/Nature/appleprintpumpkins/appleprintpumpkins.html

Handprint Frankenstein

Paint your child’s palm green and four fingers black.  Then press your child’s hand onto a white piece of paper.  Add googly eyes and draw on some black plugs either side of the head.  This a cute keepsake to pull out every Halloween.



Q-Tip Skeleton

 This is a great craft for  older children and a good way to learn the names of the bones.  Sing “Dem Bones” as you do this craft with your kids.

For complete instructions of this crafts click on the following link:  https://www.thriftyfun.com/Halloween-Q-Tip-Skeleton.html

Handprint Spider and Other Halloween Handprint Crafts

Here is another fun handprint craft for young children.  Paint their hands black, press them onto some construction paper and add googly eyes and a web when they dry.

Handprint Spider



Halloween Handprint Crafts

Here is a link for a more complete instructions for the Handprint Spider: https://ipinnedit.wordpress.com/2012/10/19/handprint-spider-halloween-craft/

Footprint Ghosts

This is one of my favourite Halloween crafts.  I first did it with my eldest son when he was 18 months old.  I love looking at his little footprints every Halloween when I get out our old crafts to decorate the house.  Make sure you have some wet wipes handy to wipe the white paint off of little feet.  Trace your child’s hand and arm (up to the elbow) onto brown paper to make the tree.

Footprint Ghosts









“Where The Wild Things Are” Monster

Get a green paper bag or paint a brown bag green. Next, add some egg carton eyes, pasta piece nose, sharp fangs, horns, claws, and spots to create your own Halloween monster.

Make Your Own Monster







Spooky Cereal Boxes

Decorate cereal boxes to make some spooky touchy, feely containers for your next Halloween party.

Spooky Cereal Boxes
Frankenstein Boxes






Enjoy these Halloween crafts.  Let me know if you have others to recommend.

Happy Halloween!