The materials: paper fish shapes, staplers, markers
The mission (at least on my part): Make fish-shaped books.
The reality: Explore your own ideas.
Here's what happened--
Some children experimented with stapling fish shapes together in book format. They wrote on the fish shapes (before and after stapling).
Some children created fish "chains," stapling the fish in long lines. They created patterns or just randomly stapled fish together. Some stapled nose to tail; some stapled tail to tail. Chains were short (2-3 fish). This one was really long.
Some children randomly stapled the fish together, more through the middle instead of at the edge for a book. One boy looked around, saying, "Now, where are those scissors?" He decided to trim off the bits of tail hanging out from under the top fish.
Some drew faces on the fish and added them to our other play in the room. This was unexpected but enhanced what was happening elsewhere.
Some watched what others were doing and tried to emulate what they saw. Some went in completely unique directions.
I had not done this exact activity before, adapting it from other ideas. We had a great time and will definitely explore it again.
My kids love to use the staplers. They keep trying to master this tool...with varying success. "How close does the paper need to be to the other one for the staple to attach them? Can I staple without the paper overlapping?" "Will one staple hold or do I need more?" "Is it different to hold the stapler and use it than using it one the table?"
Conclusion: Success! Even if I saw very few fish books going out of my room. We had a great time learning and exploring.