Loose Parts ShedPosted by Cameron Ross-MacCormack
Children of all ages are drawn to these versatile and beautiful new building pieces in our community. PreK-4 and sixth grade students are seen here exploring the possibilities of these dynamic learn-through-play loose parts materials which inspire creativity and support imaginative play. A gorgeous autumn day is the perfect outdoor learning space for our children.
A Block of TimePosted by Faith Barbuto
For the past several months our kindergarten makers have been spending time working on a project that encompasses all the skills we have developed this year. First blocks of wood were measured and sawed, then sanded down and painted. Students used rulers to mark one inch intervals and carefully hammered holes into their blocks. Next came the time to use screwdrivers as we added a battery compartment to the side of each block. Moving on to our study of electricity students used wires and led lights to build real working circuits!
Riding Into SpringPosted by Michelle Lamb
“Everytime I see an adult on a bicycle, I no longer despair for the human race.” H.G. Wells is on to something with this quotation: be active, get outdoors, and let your legs take you where your car sometimes can’t.
When fifth grade parent Monika Stokes proposed a workshop teaching kids about safety and care for bicycles, it evoked memories of my 10 year-old self imagining that my bike was really a horse and it could take me anywhere: my friends’ houses, the woods in my backyard that I called “The Ranch,” and up and down the highway I created with chalk in my driveway. More than anything, my bike gave me my first taste of freedom. The workshop would provide so much more than I, or any of my childhood friends, knew about bikes. The fifth grade would become mechanics.
Over the course of an afternoon in the makerspace, Monika, local riders, and a staff member from Danny’s Cycles in Stamford taught fifth graders how to clean and grease bike chains, how to repair a flat tire, about the different types of pedals used, the proper way to fit a helmet and the safety measures needed out on the roads and trails. There was even a station with an assortment of bike parts that the students used to create anything they could imagine. The highlight of this workshop for me was the tire repair competition at the end. Any student who wanted to participate could use what they learned to repair a tire as fast as they could.
I knew that the kids would enjoy this workshop because of the physical nature of it, but I was blown away by which stations they enjoyed best. Students who I never would have expected to get into tire repair were down and dirty trying to master this task. Others really gravitated to using the greasy bike parts for art. Even if they didn’t ride, there was a personal connection to be made in this workshop. I am confident that the skills learned will serve them well at some point in their future: whether they are out enjoying a trail in the woods, playing on bikes with friends or even as an adult with their own kids.
Fifth grade parents, take your child out on a ride or ask them to show you how to fix a bike tube! Don’t worry about getting a flat; they know what to do.
Selecting a Drill Bit and Other Basic SkillsPosted by Jamie Bartels
The fourth grade class has finished cutting out their states on the CNC router.
In addition to vector manipulation, students picked up many basic, practical skills with power tools. Every student had the opportunity to drill holes and screw nails into their wooden board in order to hold it down on the CNC router cutting bed. I am happy to say that no student refused this opportunity. During drilling it was not uncommon to hear students remark, “This is really fun!” or “My parents would never let me do this at home!”
One very basic and exceedingly useful skill students practiced was selecting a drill bit to match the size of the screw with which we would woodwork – try saying that last bit 10 times fast. If you have a power drill and a child in fourth grade, next time you need to drill a hole for a screw or a nail or a dowel see if they can choose the right bit for you!
Duct Tape + Native American Studies + Creativity = SnowshoesPosted by Michelle Lamb
Fifth grade Social Studies classes spent a week in the makerspace constructing snowshoes. During their study of Native Americans and fall reading of the novel, The Sign of the Beaver, students learned that many of the eastern woodland tribes made and used snowshoes to aid in transportation during the winter months.
While ours used modern-day materials like duct tape and plastic tubing, we researched and wrote about the designs and processes to make snowshoes, particularly by Native Americans.
As a teacher, the beauty in this project was not in trying to make authentic snowshoes, but in watching my students discover how to use the materials given to design a shoe that would work best for them. Some created theirs using the guidelines provided and made great snowshoes, and others used their own ideas and considered the placement of the shoe strap, the amount of duct tape used to best stay on top of the snow, and how to best bind their feet to the shoe. For some, it wasn’t until they completed their snowshoes and tried them out before they said, “Next time, I will do this instead,” or, “I’m going to go home and make another pair that will be even better.”
There was definitely an appreciation for Native Americans who used burned saplings, sinew, and hide to construct their shoes. As difficult as it was to work on our snowshoes, the fifth graders understood the complexity of the process that the Native Americans used.
The project earned many positive remarks among the students, and it was great to read their reflections and hear their thoughts and feelings about the process.
The Hard PartPosted by Faith Barbuto
“I want to do the hardest part!” Not exactly what you would expect to hear from a child but that is just what he said. Everyone in the class was eager to tackle a new circuit model. After studying the schematic, we gathered the necessary parts. We all worked together to put the pieces in order and see what the electricity in our new circuit powered! So far we have powered lights, fans and even whistles. The kindergarteners are becoming real expert circuit builders and are ready to take on our next big project!