Here’s a video where I talk about makerspaces and some kits I’m organizing this summer:
Each kit will have a notebook where students will be encouraged to list their thoughts, write what they did, and email a photo/video to our library’s general email address. The media will be added to an online gallery on our school’s intranet. For families who need more direction, there will also be index cards (held together with binder rings) featuring different prompts from which they might choose.
As promised, here are a few examples:
With Magna-Tiles, children create in 2 or 3-D. Kids can build whatever they want, or use prompts from the index cards that encourage them to complete specific tasks (“Build a house with only triangle pieces.”) as well as more open-ended ones (“Build a house!”). This construction can reinforce patterning and help children practice using their fine motor skills, too.
Bookspiration: Perfect Square by Michael Hall
2. Machine Building Kit
This one sort of feels like cheating because the kit comes all ready to go.
Bookspiration (besides the book included from the company): How Machines Work by Nick Arnold
3. Bridges & Architecture Kit
This will use the K’Nex Intro to Structures: Bridges set. (It’s currently out of stock at the K’Nex site but it is available through many online retailers.) With this kit, students will learn all about bridges and how they work by trying to build one or three on their own.
Bookspiration: Iggy Peck, Architect by Andrea Beaty
(Photo courtesy of Brooke Dowd Sacco)
Roloblox sets allow you to add wheels to cardboard and let your imaginations run wild. Everyone loves a cardboard box, right? The prompts here will be about what to create (“Try building something with only 3 wheels.”) as well as reflecting on what is observed when supplies are swapped (“What happens to your vehicle when you change the size of your box?”).
Bookspiration: Not A Box by Antoinette Portis and The Big Fib by Tim Hamilton
5. Block Building Kit
Barclay Blocks is one company that makes and sells blocks here in the United States (and whose photo I used above). Similar to the Shapes and Tiles Kit, the prompts on this kit’s index cards will range from the super vague (“Design a school building.”) to the more precise (“Try to build the tallest structure possible using every block in this kit.”).
Bookspiration: Dreaming Up: A Celebration of Building by Christy Hale and Sky High by Germano Zullo and Albertine
6. Origami Kit
Besides a few sheets of origami paper, a pair of scissors, and tape, this one doesn’t need much else. The index cards will point out certain challenges from Harbo’s book (“Follow the directions in Easy Animal Origami to create the dog.”) and also ask children to innovate (“Try to fold an animal not in the book. List your steps in the notebook so that others can create your product, too.”)
Bookspiration: Lissy’s Friends by Grace Lin and Easy Animal Origami by Christopher L. Harbo
7. Cartoonist Kit
The idea with this kit is to encourage children to write and self-publish their own cartoons. I will allow children to keep their creations, but invite them to list their titles and a short summary of each in the reflection notebook. I hope that some of them decide to donate their comics to the library (when that happens, I catalog the donations and highlight them in a special “student-made” section). As much as I would love to order a ton of Moleskine Messages Note Cards for children to create 4-panel comics, it’s more economical to follow the old-school method Greg Bemis describes here. Besides a bunch of #2 pencils from ForestChoice, each kit will have a few pre-folded books, a Faber-Castell Pitt Artist Pen, a Paper Mate White Pearl Eraser, and a set of Prismacolor Col-Erase Colored Pencils.
Bookspiration: Adventures in Cartooning by James Strum, Andrew Arnold, and Alexis Frederick-Frost and The Adventures of Sparrowboy by Brian Pinkney
I forgot to mention that these kits will each have a 1-week circulation period, and children will check them out with a grown-up during our open library time before or after school. I’m planning on storing items in plastic storage boxes that I’ll catalog and barcode like other library materials, and I’ll have a “Check for” sheet taped to the lids so that we can do a quick inventory when items are returned. I must admit that it is scary thinking of these kits, with all of their little pieces, going out into the world. If they start coming back damaged or incomplete, I might have to change the circulation policies. Right now, though, I think there is a huge benefit to having families use them at home and experimenting and reflecting together.