If you are a regular reader of Kindergarten Diva, you’ll know that my kindergarten students love yoga. They’ve been passionate about it since I first started teaching them in December. In May, I discovered another thing that they really love, and that is making. After attending Riding the Wave in Gimli, my teaching partner Leah Obach and I were inspired to do more with maker space in our classrooms. Like most of our projects, it soon took on a life of its own with our young learners in the driver’s seat.
Leah and I introduced the concept of making one morning in our weekly Skype call, We discussed how everyone is a maker, and shared some of the things that Leah and I like to make. Boys and girls then shared with each other what they liked to make, and we made a promise to each other to try maker space that coming week and report back to each other the following Friday. This Skype accountability with our partner class is key in ensuring that we follow through with our plans!
We assembled materials with a visit to the Co-op for cardboard boxes and scoured the supply room and the recycling bins. For added inspiration, we viewed Caine’s Arcade on YouTube, which they absolutely loved. After a discussion of safety and scissor/stapler use, I let them loose. Take a look at the high levels of engagement, creativity, and problem-solving in this short video!
Very quickly, making became my young learners’ favourite thing to do. At Miniota School, our buses drop off half an hour before school starts. If I wasn’t in the room when my students arrived, I would find them already making, choosing to work on their creations instead of go outside and play or eat breakfast. It was impossible to contain their enthusiasm….or the mess that was taking over our classroom!
Here is what I learned about making with young children:
-safety comes first (for example, no stabbing into boxes with scissors when someone is inside the box!)
-provide long blocks of time a couple of times a week, as once they get started they don’t want to stop. And, I’d rather clean up a huge mess once or twice a week then a smaller mess on a daily basis.
-don’t place limits on what they can make
-don’t do it for them
-photograph their creations
-embrace the chaos and marvel at all the amazing learning happening!
-develop a system for organizing and storing supplies (one teacher I read about uses green dots for materials the students have free access to and a red dot for materials they need to ask to use)
Leah’s students were experiencing the same passion for making, and of course this turned into another collaborative project. Our boys and girls decided they wanted to host a maker faire where they could make things together, and teach other people about making. My students took the lead on this project, and we decided to host it in our school, as Mrs. Obach’s class took the lead and hosted the Code-a-thon. As both of our classes also love yoga. we made the decision to host our maker faire on International Day of Yoga so that we could have a yoga festival in the afternoon.
As always, we followed a project-based learning model–students taking the lead, collaborating and creating with technology, and involving multiple partners. As teachers, Leah and I helped the students to “uncover” more of the curricula, providing interdisciplinary lessons as needed to help the students move the project forward. Regular Skype calls allowed us to each take on different tasks, report back to each other, and make decisions about the maker faire and International Day of Yoga Festival.
We used shared writing to compose this letter to our principal:
Although we are young, we love yoga clothes. and we decided to ask Inner Fire and Lululemon if they would support our yoga festival. This was an excellent opportunity to talk about persuasive writing, and we developed a little presentation using Haiku Deck. Inner Fire was amazing, responding instantly and providing prizes and a free yoga tank for me! Wow!
Our next job was to create invitations. We used Microsoft Publisher to make these simple cards, and also exported them as a PDF to email to faraway guests. QR codes on the back of the invitations provided links to movies and more information.
We made an extensive guest list and addressed and decorated the envelopes. We used tally marks to see how many stamps we would need to buy and how many could be hand-delivered.
As for every project a to do list guides us and acts as a plan.
With our Grade 1 friends, we brainstormed a list of materials that we wanted for making. We divided up the list, making decisions about who was responsible for getting the items. We also put out a plea on social media for donations.
We collaboratively developed this schedule for the day and a list of healthy snacks. We decided to ask our parents to donate snacks, and they were wonderful to provide everything we needed. We asked Mr. Lewis (our principal) for a budget to buy ingredients to make punch. This led to some excellent math learning.
We walked to the Co-op and shopped for supplies.
We made playdough for one of our maker activities at the maker faire.
One of the activities I was most excited about was mapping the gym, as it brought in social studies, numeracy, and ELA outcomes in a very authentic way. We paced out the gym, counting our steps, then drew and labelled this map on the SMART Board. This map was later posted in the gym to help us set up.
Developing a job chart was much anticipated by the boys and girls! They decided that the boys would act as greeters at the door and the girls would preside over the guest book and snack table.
We were also lucky enough to enlist the help of our Grades 7/8 class and Hamiota Collegiate student council (some of whom attend my yoga classes in Kenton) for our yoga festival.
And after a frantic last day of preparations, the gym was set up and we were as ready as we were ever going to be! Stay tuned for a second post about the actual event, and tips for running your own maker faire and yoga festival!