Thinking Outside the Box

One of the qualities I have always hoped to encourage in Gavin is the ability to think outside the box.  The problem with the current education system is that the focus tends to be on rote learning and following the leader.

I believe that children already possess a natural ability to think outside the box.  However, as they grow older, this quality begins to diminish unless we can somehow encourage them to continue building it.

An Exercise in Thinking Outside the Box

Gavin has a pair of copy-cat Thomas Croc shoes which we bought from Target when we were last in Melbourne.  For his birthday, one of our friends bought him three Thomas and Friends attach-ons by the original Croc brand.  The attach-ons are supposed to be for attaching to the original Croc shoes, but we found they also fit onto Gavin’s fake Croc shoes.


Recently, after a trip to the Croc shop (my SIL2 was looking for a pair of shoes), Gavin discovered there was a whole new range of Thomas and Friends figures he did not have on his shoes.  I bought him Toby the Tram Engine and he was so pleased with it that this pair of shoes has become his fast favourite for the past couple of weeks.

Ever since then, he has wanted to go back to collect the other Thomas and Friends figures that he remembers seeing.  One in particular which he really wanted was James the Red Engine because James was one of the original characters he originally had but lost because it fell off his shoe while we were out and about.

My parents, who have been back in town recently, decided to pitch in and help him look for James so we’ve been in and out of just about every Croc shop in the Klang valley looking for James.

In the first shop we went into, we managed to find a few Thomas and Friends characters which were stored in these little round cylinders.  Most of the characters were upside-down so my Mum and I would rummage through the jars with our index fingers looking for James.

Gavin spied what we were doing and decided to help us look.  Instead of copying our actions, he covered the opening with one hand and up-ended the cylinder so he could look at the figurines from the bottom up.  Since the figurines were all face down, that one action allowed him to see a many more of the figurines than simply rumaging through the cylinder with an index finger.  How’s that for thinking outside the box?


We didn’t find James in the end, but we did get The Fat Controller.


Grandma handing The Fat Controller to Gavin.


Gavin supervises the addition of The Fat Controller onto his shoe.


In the end, grandma and grandpa promised to look for James when they went down to Singapore.

Published by Shen-Li

SHEN-LI LEE is the author of “Brainchild: Secrets to Unlocking Your Child’s Potential”. She is also the founder of (a website on parenting, education, child development) and (a website on Right Brain Education, cognitive development, and maximising potentials). In her spare time, she blogs on Forty, Fit & Fed, and Back to Basics.

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