The last five years have seen an explosion in Maker Edu-themed products geared for the younger set. Young kids make enthusiastic makers. They love challenging puzzles, approachable crafts and as long as you put flames on it, they think everything you do is amazing! What’s not to love about teaching the pre-K through 3rd grade set?
Little makers also need encouragement, support and developmentally-appropriate materials to be successful. Many of us think Makers means 3D printers, microcontrollers and fancy toys. Young makers will feel left out (though amazed) at all those cool gizmos and flashy parts because the concepts, skills and tools are all too complex. Instead, we can broaden our definition of making (to include art, crafts, woodworking, cooking and more) while developing technology tools that teach at their level. Technology tools can empower our children through exploration and discovery.
Robot Turtles and the BeeBot/BlueBot are two MakerEd platforms you can use to promote foundational computer science concepts and coding skills to the very young learners.
Here’s a cool project that takes an old standby, the diorama, and adds a little Maker flair to it. The diorama incorporates a MakeyMakey, laptop and Scratch programming environments to turn a stand alone display into something interactive and easily modified. I developed this project for my school’s eSTEAM Fair (environmental, science, technology, engineering, arts, mathematics). It was a huge hit with parents and kids alike.
This summer I repeated the project with pretty cool results with my two sons. Let me take you along for the ride!
This fall, I opened the classroom with a very simple (sort-of) multi-media project for my students. Last year, I piloted a number of different end-of-project reflection formats (long form, short form, written and typed) as well as online and offline versions. I lacked a reasonable and effective in-process journaling format. This year, I wanted to combine the paper lab report/maker journaling process with the final reflections. So my students and I made custom lab notebooks. These notebooks are made with the following materials: Materials: 1/4” Plywood Letter-sized paper with a combination of reflections, graph paper, etc. 2” wide strips … Continue reading This Week in the Classroom: DIY Wood Covered Lab Notebooks
Cajón drums are wood drums native to South America with deeper roots in the Africa. The cajon is a wood rectangular prism, with two thin faces. One of the thin sides, usually the back, has a large hole to allow sound to travel out. The front face can be struck with the hand, mallets or brushes to create different sounds. Construction couldn’t be simpler. Cut out four sides of a box using whatever means you have from a sheet of plywood. I use a table saw now, but my students and I have used jig saws with guides, circular saws … Continue reading This Week in the Classroom: Cajón Drums
This year was a big year in the STEaMworks (STEM focus, art driven, work/project centered: the STEaMworks), my self-styled Maker classroom. We (and the Math/Sci Team) built a lot of projects: rockets, rocket cars, derby cars, catapults, simple robots, box-making, bench-making, bridge-building, sail-testing, music making, spirographs, pendulums, 3D prototyping, CAD models, Arduino projects, Alice computer programming, Art Cars, shed construction, a digital STEM Fair and more. I’ve just typed that up and still can’t believe it! Nine months and so much sweat, math, science, art and tears. How did we (my co-workers and rock-solid team, my students and my very … Continue reading Making A Makerspace: Top 10 Tools in a Maker’s Classroom (2012)
In preparation for a walkin’ cane project, I built a dirty looking 2×4 shaving horse. It ain’t named Trigger, though I might name it Jimmy Stewart. Whenever I think of the description “long face”, I think of Jimmy Stewart.
The 16″ childrens’ bike project has cleared my outbox. I’m busy in reflection mode with the students, examining all the different parts of our work for ways to improve the product, teaching and quality next time. I thought the bike itself came out well:
If you’ve followed the blog over the past two months, then you’ve seen some of the progress. If you haven’t, or are interested in doing this yourself, the I’ll recap the project after the jump.