About this time of year I would introduce students to tangrams. They are an oriental invention consisting of a group of about 7 shapes made out of plastic, cardboard or other material. Each child would get their own set and I would introduce them with a book called "Grandfather Tang" about a chinese grandfather who made animal shapes with tangrams and tell stories about them.
I had laminated outlines of animal shapes and students had to make the tangram shapes fit to form the animal. They were surprisingly difficult and sometimes when I was modeling how to do the puzzles, it would turn into a lesson on perserverance because it would take me so many tries to complete the puzzle. We also made our own tangram animals out of construction paper.
It was surprising which students found the exercise easy because they had good perception skills. Some students who were good at rote memorization found visual perception very difficult. I liked it because some students who weren't used to "shining" could be "stars".
What I learned: All students have something to "shine" at. The teacher is responsible for finding it and building their self-esteem.