Everyday, people all over the world are resourceful, not just in meeting their basic needs, but in overcoming challenges, solving problems, and creating opportunities for themselves and others. They innovate and create by inventing new things or reimagining what already exists.
Resourcefulness is being able and willing to “do more with less,” finding ingenious solutions to problems based on whatever is available, without becoming discouraged over the lack of resources.
Some examples might be:
Problem: I don’t have a soccer ball.
Resourceful solution: Roll up a shirt and tie it with string.
Problem: My back hurts from sitting all day.
Resourceful solution: Stack some boxes and make a standing desk.
Problem: I don’t have jelly for my sandwich.
Resourceful solution: Slice strawberries to use instead.
Resourcefulness and Prototyping
Resourcefulness is on full display in the design process while prototyping. Creating a prototype allows entrepreneurs to explore and test initial ideas in a smaller way before spending a lot of time and money on a final product.
Eleven-year-old Makayla is creating an Eco-Stuffed Animal that delivers messages to young kids about the importance of environmental conservation. She has a vision of what the final product will look like but needs to practice her sewing and create the eco messages in ways that don’t take a lot of time and money.
So, she applies her resourcefulness to create a prototype. She repurposed a sock and stuffed it with materials she already had around the house, then sewed the end closed. She recorded a few messages on her tablet and began testing.
Makayla’s prototype allows her to test her idea and share it with others in a tangible way, without needing to spend a lot of time and money to do so.
3 Ways to Support Resourceful Thinking
1. Honor the imagination: Allow and encourage youth to apply their imagination, pretend, and make-believe. In this space, a box becomes a rocket ship and a towel becomes a cape. This imaginative play lays the foundation for using materials in a resourceful way and will strengthen their curiosity and creativity.
2. Make a makerspace: This doesn’t have to be an actual workspace. Start by simply filling a container with toilet paper rolls, empty cereal boxes, and supplement with tape, foil, or other craft items. Give youth time for open ended making or challenge them with this question, “What can you build from what you found and gathered? Can you create a toy, a game, a new invention, something else?”
3. Introduce constraints: Take any task and give youth less time to complete it or take away a material or object they would typically use in the process. For example, have them sweep without using a broom or bring dinner to the table without using their hands. Give them only 5 minutes to thoroughly wash all the dishes after dinner. Limitations inspire resourcefulness and creative thinking!
Get Resourceful with Wacky Inventions
Looking for a quick activity to practice resourcefulness? Check out our Wacky Inventions activity, which requires youth to come up with a new invention using only two everyday objects.