Said no grade 9 student ever.
Ever since I took History of Environmental Science in university, I have become a firm believer in studying the history of whatever discipline you choose to dabble. You learn why things are the way they are, and that's important. Last summer I read "A Short History of Nearly Everything" by Bill Bryson and was actually riveted throughout the whole thing (in fact I believe I spent that weekend camping in Mattawa and didn't spend much time away from my chair and book).
All this to say that when students hear art history, you can usually see the collective eye roll. Like when those schools of fish all move at once, or a flock of starlings are flying. It's kind of impressive to watch.
So although I can't take credit for the actual assignment (I found it on Pinterest), I had the Grade 9's do an "unbirthday" box for an artist (it's an Alice in Wonderland reference). They do some research, decorate a box, and give their artist five gifts with explanations.
And I was completely blown away with what these students came up with. They worked for almost a week solid on this project (and I mean actually WORKED every single day). The results were incredible.
Friday we had a party with cake and cupcakes, and shared our gifts. I learned so much from these kids! At the end of the class, I told them that a number of them were worried at the beginning of the semester. "I can't draw", or "I suck at art" were their main concerns. I told them this:
Creativity isn't always about making a pretty picture. What you all did here today, thinking about what gifts to give, and explaining your thinking, THAT'S creativity at its finest. I am SO impressed with all of you, and I am going to brag about this all weekend!