Being Inventive: Lesson 3

[This post is the third lesson in a 3-lesson unit. You can also access lesson 1 and lesson 2.]

Hello! Thank you for checking out this post. The content that follows is a mini-lesson about being inventive. It is the final post in a three-part series that includes a classroom pre-lesson and a field experience to the National Museum of American History (NMAH). If you can’t do all three parts, don’t worry! This post can be used as a second lesson after the pre-lesson. While this post may reference the museum, you can do this lesson plan without having visited NMAH. However, if you are interested in the other posts, you can find them here on our blog. Each post has plenty of activity ideas and downloadable student handouts.

The lesson plan below is part script, part advice, and full of ideas and activities that will provide a fun way to get students to use inventive skills. Enjoy!



  • A bag of everyday objects, one per student group, (optional if you have done the pre-lesson)
  • Art materials students might need for their “pitch,” optional

Introductory Discussion (10 minutes)

To start the post-lesson, you might want to start with a short reflective conversation about the pre-lesson and/or field experience. Here are some ideas for questions:

  • What are some things they saw or did that were inventive?
  • What were some things from the museum that reminded them of the classroom lesson?
  • What new things did they discover?
  • What new inventive skills did they learn?

Give students time to share what they might have built or pitched while in Spark!Lab, people and things they learned about in Places of Invention, and objects they thought about differently as a result of visiting Object Project.

Final Inventive Activity (30 – 45 minutes)

Have students get back in their original groups from the pre-lesson. In Spark!Lab they might have learned that inventions need to be tested, tweaked, and sold. This is what the group will be focusing on today.

If you would like, you can create additional smaller bags of objects so students can add to or enhance their invention. Alternatively, you can have students simply rework using the materials provided in the pre-lesson.

Provide students with about 30 minutes to tweak their invention, test it to make sure it works, and then prepare their 5 minute “pitch,” which they will present to the class. Before students get started on the “pitch,” you might want to have a class discussion to make sure everyone has a shared understanding of expectations. Through inquiry and discussion, you can help students discover that a pitch is not only saying what the invention is, but making people want to have it so it should also be fun and interesting.

Feel free to let students decide on their own “pitch” projects. You could also suggest ideas like: a jingle, a skit, or magazine advertisement.  Feel free to provide students with art supplies if you would like them to draw or create a physical product for their pitch.

To help students use their time effectively, you can provide them with this pitch handout, which can help them organize their thoughts before standing in front of the class and presenting. Alternatively, you might just want them to consider some of the following questions:

  • Name of the invention
  • Name of the inventors
  • Who is the invention for?
  • What does it do?
  • Why should someone want this invention?
  • How did the idea for your invention change/improve over time?
  • Space to draw a picture or a tagline for the invention

Invention Pitches (5 minutes per group)

Let students have about 5 minutes to take turns presenting. As we all know, presenting can be scary and students are vulnerable so it can be nice to clap for every group if people are feeling nervous.

Closing Discussion (10 minutes)

Return to the list your class made in response to the question, “What is an inventor?” Ask them if there is anything they want to add or remove from the list now that they have had experience actually being inventors. Update the list accordingly.

This could also be an interesting opportunity to get metacognitive with your students! A conversation about how their understanding has evolved and what experiences got them there could lead to some really amazing discussions!

Hopefully your class will proudly use their inventive skills throughout the school year! To celebrate the end of the unit, it might be fun to hang student handouts, inventions, or pitch materials in your classroom.

If you take photos and post them on social media, be sure to tag us @liveitlearnitdc or #LILIpad. We’d love to see the amazing things your students create!

Mariel Smith

Mariel Smith is originally from outside of Baltimore and grew up visiting museums in Maryland and Washington, DC. Those early experiences gave her the strong belief that museums and historic sites are perfect places to learn, explore, and have fun. She has a B.A. in English literature from the University of Maryland and an M.A. in museum studies from New York University. Committed to sharing her passion for informal hands-on education, Mariel has worked in museums in Washington, DC and New York City, as well as abroad in London, England. She is proud to be a part of Live It Learn It where she can use her teaching experience and passion for learning to help students explore the wonderful history and resources DC has to offer. Outside of work Mariel loves to read, bake cookies, and watch Star Wars.

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