What is it if it’s not a pipe? Could it be an elvish golf club, a tiny unfinished old-fashioned periscope, a fancy straw for drinking ale, part of a faucet, a teensy weensy watering can? Course it could, if you can forget the boring, sensible, conventional use and think sideways. This little warmer requires students to do just.
First you need a “pipe” (or a “not-pipe”). I used a paperclip when I did this with my class, but you could use anything, really. The more conventional the better. Elicit what it is and then demonstrate the activity by telling them it isn’t and giving your own explanation of what it is, the bonkerser the better. Now pass it to a student (preferably one that you know won’t freeze) to do the same. Each student must think of a different use for the item. Go round the class until everyone’s come up with one or you’ve run out of ideas. To finish, why not ask students to discuss the funniest or wildest or most interesting ideas.
For more advanced groups, you could get them speculating as to what the item could be.
It’s likely that some interesting vocabulary might come up during this activity and it might be useful to revise it by including the “inventions” in later activities if possible, depending on what the topic of that lesson is.
One can’t know what’s going on inside someone’s head, but I wonder if an imagination-awakening and similarity-noticing exercise such as this might prepare students’ brains for making other useful connections during the class.
I’ve tried this with teens and adults but younger kids could certainly do it too. I’d be interested as to which age group comes up with the most inventive ideas.