My computer lab is a happening place — we have ipads, a greeen wall, laptops, 2 imacs, and more —-
And the teacher in the computer lab (me) is saturated with tech ideas and information — attending edcamps, following twitter, attending conferences, etc etc. So we are always working on a project, an idea, something — our lab is never boring.
YET, I thought — I need a break — perhaps they do too.
So, I took a look at the calendar — and decided that the week before Thanksgiving, we would have a Maker’s Faire (kinda). Not too elaborate…but time to play, explore — and time away from tech.
And since HOUR OF CODE begins for us on November 30th — and instead we make it a MONTH OF CODE — I thought this would be a good “step away” week.
So, we set the room with up to 7 areas. (The older kids had 7 — I narrowed it down to 5 for K and 1)
We had an origami area.
We had a hot wheels area.
We had a PIPE CLEANER area– but that changed on Tuesday to a beading area.
We had a Stacker Cup area,
We had a Lego area.
We had a crayon/marker/colored pencil, scissors, glue, ruler, etc area.
We had a sticker foam shape area with different colored cardstock.
Tables were totally rearranged and round tables were also brought in.
When the students came into the room, I explained that we would have a maker’s fair—what a maker’s fair was.
I then pointed out the areas and then gave the 6 rules.
#1 — They had to create.
#2 — They had to have fun.
#3 — They could not destroy someone else’s creation.
#4 – They could move chairs as they wished — or stand at a table — or work on the floor.
#5 — When the lights went out, we needed to clean up (and I would give them a 10 minute and 5 minute warning)
#6 — If they could not hear the music playing — they were too loud.
And then I set them free.
Things I learned or noticed —
a. Our kids don’t know how to play with hotwheels — so we had a learning curve of how to put the tracks together and how to use the grips and I think we always made the circles wrong — but smiles, it worked.
b. Our kids will experiment if we step aside. We have a rack for the laptops which is about 6 feet at the top — and I noticed that students were attaching the grips for the hotwheels to the top. For the stacker cups, students asked to use my step ladder to reach the top. Students knew I had special scissors — you know the ones that cut designs — and they asked to use them. It was a day for YES — and because of that — I saw creation.
c. Everyone — if they work together — can clean up over 500 hot wheel pieces in less than 5 minutes.
d. Kids like the freedom to move. I had at least 10 kids ask me if they could move from areas before they did — and I said “of course, you could”. And the ability to combine items, like the origami, the crayons, the felt shapes — was something they questioned — again with a “yes, you can”.
e. One song we sing in chapel is “Get A Little Crazy” and in the song it says “move it to the left now, move it to the right”. As the song began to play — it was great fun to see the students move as they worked. I should have pulled out the camera but it was a special moment I will always cherish in my heart.
f. The quiet time of sitting at a table with students and coloring or beading or making a hotwheel track or stacking cups — and working 1:1 or a few more — is an exceptional time. And something we need to have more of.
g. Students want to be noticed. During each session I kept hearing “look Miss Wagner” or “Miss Wagner come here” — they were so proud of what they did and wanted to share it.
h. We had only 1 discipline problem the entire week and it was stopped with a “what is Rule #2? — You can’t have fun if you are arguing.” and pshew, crisis was diverted. (grins — I know that won’t always be the final result.)
Things I Might Do Differently Next Time
a. Cardboard — I know it is going to be messy — but I think they will have a blast.
b. I needed to push more tables to the wall and open up floor space.
c. Establish some directions for things that might be unsafe or could break — don’t kick the cups, don’t stand on tables, or chairs) — so we need more step ladders.
d. Have more unique items — hmmm, perhaps string art, or leather punching — something they don’t usually see at school.
e. We cleaned up the area so it would be ready for the next group — perhaps we don’t need to? Still not sure.
So — was this an academic week?
Well, it depends how you look at it —
We had lessons in velocity, force, cause and effect, balancing, hand/eye coordination, teamwork, small motor skills, math, spelling, art, science, creativity, ingenuity, wonderment, problem solving, color mixing, following directions (origami), review and change, sequencing, patterning, construction, …. and I could go on.
All because we decided to have a Maker’s Faire.
And — only 1 student was openly disappointed.
Everyone else just went with the flow. And — as one kid said “it was the best day ever.”