Hillside student plays game created by Walnut Creek Campus student.

How Walnut Creek students used creativity to build carnival games for a Hillside class

You know how the old saying goes: When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.

A recent project at Walnut Creek Campus tests those words to its core.

Inspired by “Caine’s Arcade” — a short documentary where a boy named Caine Monroy built an arcade using boxes and everyday objects — Walnut Creek students and faculty on the first two days of school used cardboard, tape, and other resources to develop about 30 different carnival games.

Some of the games constructed included Skee-Ball, Plinko, and air hockey, among others.

A head shot of Kim Davis“We like to do a lot of team and community building during the opening couple of days to help students feel comfortable in our learning environment,” said principal Kim Davis, Ed.D. “We also have a project-based learning classroom here and want to encourage students to use their creativity to be innovative.”

She added how exciting it was to see the enthusiasm expressed by Walnut Creek students throughout the project.

“We have many students who could be engineers, I found out,” Davis said. “I was very proud of our students, for they worked hard to be inventive and to come up with games that were challenging and complex.”

The games made their debuts on Aug. 24, when students from nearby Hillside Elementary were shuttled and tested them. Principal Graham Jones, Ed.D, felt that this project was exactly what Hillside is looking for by connecting with their community.

“We want to see our students engaged in learning while having fun,” he said. “This was a wonderful model for our Hillside kids to see how creativity can lead to joy in learning.”


Additionally, Walnut Creek students served as ambassadors, taking Hillside students around the building to play the various games. They also facilitated the games in each room.

“We are so fortunate to have our schools in the same neighborhood where we can use this connection to share the strengths of all of our students,” Jones said. “This is the type of engagement that we want to see from our students every day in West Des Moines.”

Davis applauded how warming it was to see Hillside and Walnut Creek students enjoy the games together.

“There was an abundance of positive energy in our building, and it was great to see so many students having fun,” she said.

So when life ends up giving you lemons — or tons of cardboard — you’ll know what do.

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View more photos when Hillside students played the carnival games at Walnut Creek.