Recent Changes - Search:

What Do You Do With an Idea?

By Kobi Yamada


This is a story about a child who one day discovers he has an idea. The boy wonders where this idea came from. He feels afraid to tell others about his idea because they might think it is silly. Almost ready to give up on his idea he decides to nurture and feed it, and then something magical happens, the idea bursts out into the world bringing with it a miraculous change.

Guidelines for Philosophical Discussion

By Carol Chandler and Meghan Murphy

What Do You Do With An Idea is a story that addresses some of the most intriguing philosophical questions. The book’s delightful illustrations and thought provoking narrative allows the reader to become enchanted with its story. The concept of an idea can be hard for a child to conceptualize so it is suggested that you begin by giving various examples of past inventors whose ideas turned into inventions. Here are some suggestions: Sarah Goode, invented the first folding cabinet, Whitcomb L. Judson invented and constructed the first zipper, Thomas Edison invented the first light bulb, The Wright Brothers invented the first successful plane that flew, and in 2013 Zora Bell, at seven years old, became the youngest person to create a mobile app game.

Can you think of a time when you had a sudden flash of insight and wondered "Hey, where did that come from?" or "Wow, that could really work!" With this wonderful tale, a young boy suddenly finds himself with an idea. The idea follows the boy around occupying much of his attention. Once an idea has been created it is oftentimes hard to forget. Idea's have a way of sticking around, nagging at us from the back of our mind. By demanding our attention, an idea can feel real, like it is alive. In the story, the young boy finds that his idea requires attention. He begins to play and feed his idea. It makes the young boy happy to care for his idea. With the boy's encouragement the idea begins to grow bigger. Ideas can have an element of excitement to them and when we engage with ideas we get pulled into a sense of purpose.

However, there are times when we doubt our own ability and our own idea's. The young boy experiences this kind of self-doubt. As the idea grows, the boy becomes uncertain of himself and skeptical of whether his idea is viable. How is it that we determine an idea good or bad? What makes one idea different from other thoughts that we have? What makes an idea creative? What motivates us to pursue creative ideas? Another element of an idea is its creativity. Having an idea involves a creative process that requires attention, commitment and effort in communicating something purposeful in life.

Consider how varying cultural values affect receptiveness to one another's ideas. Who deems an idea appropriate? Is an idea only appropriate if it meets a certain standard? How can educators recognize creativity in students and help them to engage with the creative thinking process? In the story the boy is afraid that other people will laugh and think his idea is silly and no good. How many of us can remember times in our lives when we voiced our ideas to others only to have them tell us that it is no good and a waste of our time? What makes an idea simple and another more complex? Sometimes it is the not so good little ideas that merge with other ideas in order to create the brilliant ideas! Many important inventors throughout history have been told that their ideas have been silly and yet they refused to listen to the naysayers, and in turn, have brought to fruition ideas that have made significant positive change in the world. For instance, Edward Jenner invented vaccines that has saved millions of lives, or engineer Norman Krim invented the first wearable hearing aid.

An interesting follow up for children to have fun with is an exercise wherein children come up with an idea for an invention. Then have them write or draw it on a small slip of paper. Place the paper it into a plastic Easter egg. They then can role play out their idea of an invention.

Questions for Philosophical Discussion

One day the boy finds himself with an idea

  1. What is an idea?
  2. Can you think of an example of something that came from a person’s idea
  3. Do you know of any people that have made their ideas famous?
  4. Have you ever found yourself with an idea?
  5. How did it make you feel? Happy? Excited?
  6. What did you do with your idea?
  7. Do you think that it is possible to all of a sudden have an idea?
  8. Where do you think that ideas come from?

The boy walks away from the idea and it follows him

  1. Can ideas follow you if you try to ignore them?

The boy tries to ignore his idea, but he finds he can’t stop thinking about it.

  1. Were you ever afraid to tell someone about an idea that you had? Why?
  2. Do you think that other people are right to tell you if your idea is wrong?
  3. Are there some ideas that seem too big or too difficult?
  4. What makes an idea important?
  5. Is there such a thing as a bad idea? And can bad ideas become great ones?

The boy finds something magical about his idea and is happier when it is around

  1. What is magical about ideas?
  2. What does it mean to feed an idea and make it grow?
  3. How can having an idea make you feel more alive?

The Idea bursts out into the world

  1. If an idea spreads is it no longer yours? Does it matter?
  2. If you have an idea how do you make it real?
  3. What does it mean when an idea takes on a life of its own?
  4. Can you think of ways in which ideas have helped change the world?

This book module deals with metaphysics, epistemology, and the mind. You can buy this book on Amazon.

Creative Commons License This website was developed with the assistance of the Squire Family Foundation.