One of our office staff who is very into crafting, passed on this Christmas craft idea from Clever Patch. For only $1.98, I could buy a kit with all the instructions and craft materials to make a Christmas elf ornament. I bought twenty kits. I could have used more as I normally have more students than that turn up, but I was mindful of my budget. The activity was challenging enough that it engaged students and allowed for a degree of creativity in the design and placement of the beads, but it was simple enough that students could follow the instructions with minimal guidance. For some reason they love to use the hot glue gun and, even though it wasn’t necessary, they enjoyed gluing the hats to their elf’s head. They now have a hand-made ornament to hang from their Christmas tree.
Our kids love an engineering challenge. We decided to run a sail car competition, prompted by this instructable. I showed kids some images and a trial one I’d made as inspiration and then gave them a pile of paddle pop sticks, straws, sheets of paper to act as sails, rubber bands and sticky tape to experiment with and make their own design. The designing, trialing and re-designing is where all the learning takes place – as well as the fun. For wheels, we used plastic cotton reels that our Kindy had as part of a threading kit.
When each group had created their sail car we tested them to see which one could travel the length of a desk the fastest, using only the power of their breath to propel it.
We wanted to add a bit of science to our MakerSpace activity this week, so we got kids to grow their own crystals. I got the idea and used the recipe from this web site. Using pipe cleaners, students created their name or a simple image – stars, flowers, hearts and butterflies were popular. We then created a solution of water and borax – cheap and readily available from hardware stores and some supermarkets. I didn’t bother dying the solution as the recipe suggests – a) I didn’t have enough containers and b) the colour of the pipe cleaners came through the clear crystals. The students then tied some fishing line to their pipe cleaner and attached the other end to a skewer. There was a bit of trial and error getting the line the right length so that the whole design was in the solution but wasn’t touching the bottom of the container.
Then came the hard part – waiting for the crystals to form overnight. In the morning we lifted the skewers out of the solution and allowed the now crystal-covered pipe cleaners to dry. They were difficult to photograph well but look quite effective, particularly when held up to the light.