Last week in MakerSpace our kids sewed pouches for orphaned native animals to donate to the RSPCA. Today, Vicky Toomey, a wildlife carer for the RSPCA visited the school to accept the pouches. All the kids who were involved stood up at assembly and received a round of applause, then two of our students got up and thanked the RSPCA for their hard work and handed over the pouches. This was great publicity for our MakerSpace and great acknowledgement for the students who got to see their creations being put to good use.
I’m an occasional donor to the RSPCA and recently they sent out a request for people to sew pouches for orphaned native wildlife. Baby possums, sugar gliders and kangaroos are kept in these pouches which keep them warm and mimic the pouches of their mothers. They included an instruction sheet and I thought this would be a great activity for our kids to do, while also giving them an opportunity to do some community service.
I put a request in the school newsletter for donations of old sheets or leftover material and parents brought in several bags full. We borrowed a sewing machine from the Art Department and my aide brought her machine in from home. The students needed a piece of fleecy material to make the outside pouch, a piece of cotton or flannelette to make the inside liner, scissors and a ruler and pen.
Students chose which animal they wanted to make a pouch for. There are several sizes needed for the different sized animals. They then measured out the required sized rectangle on their two pieces of material and cut them out, folded them in half and took them to the sewing machines. My aide and one of my Year 6 library monitors, who is an experienced seamstress, manned the sewing machines and sewed up each rectangle into a pouch. The liner was then placed inside the outer pouch and the two were stitched together around the top.
I’ve contacted the RSPCA to see if someone would like to come to assembly so the kids can present their pouches. Otherwise I’ll just mail them in. It was an easy and enjoyable activity and it was good for the kids to make something that had a purpose and would benefit someone other than themselves.
We challenged students to come up with a catapult that would fling a polystyrene ball. We gave students free range of our craft trolley, including paddle pop sticks, cardboard rolls, rubber bands, plastic spoons, bulldog clips etc and let them design and experiment to see what would work best. I had a slideshow of images of catapults playing on the screen in the background, but I avoided giving the kids any instructions, as this often closes off creativity. We then lined the students up in the library foyer and had a competition to see whose catapult got the greatest distance. The winning team got a packet of M and Ms.
I’ve just bought 10 sets of Makedo toolkits which allow kids to easily cut and join cardboard using simple reusable screws and hinges. There are some fantastic creations on the Makedo site and kids can really use their imagination to easily construct all kinds of things. I also found some cheap Makedo “Ready to Build” kits where kids can punch out printed pieces and join them together to create dinosaurs, cars, animals etc. I thought this might be a good entry point for kids who need a bit more guidance before feeling comfortable coming up with their own ideas. I put everything out at lunchtime today and let the kids explore.
The girls liked using the kits but the boys preferred to make their own creations using the scrap cardboard and boxes. The kids’ creations are on display in the library for a week and then we can disassemble them. I think I should be able to reuse the kits a few times before the cardboard is destroyed.
Our MakerSpace was buzzing with activity today as we challenged the students to use whatever materials they wanted to try to build the tallest free-standing tower they could, within half an hour. We put out newspapers, cardboard tubes, connector straws, Lego etc and let the kids experiment. It was great to listen to the discussions within the groups as they went through a design process of testing their ideas and modifying them as problems arose.
Yesterday, I took the long drive over to Good News Lutheran College at Middle Park to have an evening playing with all kinds of goodies such as drones, robots, squishy circuits, wearable technology and MaKey MaKeys. They have a great set up over there and are lucky enough to have a specialist IT teacher in their primary school. It was a fun afternoon for about twenty teachers to get hands-on and share ideas. Thanks to Derek Bartels from LEQ’s head office and to the staff at Good News for their organisation of the day. I am definitely going to get a drone.
We didn’t have time to prepare much this week after all the effort we’d put into Book Week, so we decided to do something simple. I brought in a couple of buckets of pine cones from my garden and we got out all of our craft materials and let the kids get creative making pine cone people. We had a competition and the kids came up with some weird and wacky creations.
The whole library staff got our dates wrong and thought Fathers’ Day was last weekend instead of this weekend, so we were a bit early with this activity. We got the kids to make some coconut and date balls, then wrap them up for dad with a home made gift tag. The recipe has only two ingredients – pitted dates and desicated coconut. We used one bag of coconut and three bags of dates which was enough for about 25 kids. We had a couple of different brands of dates; the cheaper supermarket home brand ones were a bit too dry and hard to process. We put dates and coconut at a ratio of approximately 2:1 in some food processors that the library staff brought from home and whizzed them up until well combined. We then parcelled out about a quarter cup to each student who shaped it into balls, then rolled the balls in extra coconut.
It’s hard to think of something to give to dads for Fathers’ Day – mums are much easier. I found this activity when I did a Google search for Fathers’ Day craft and thought it would be a fun, cheap and easy thing to do. I bought a pack of six cork tiles from Bunnings for $13.50 and cut each into 9 squares, about 10cm in size. This gave us 54 coasters and all but one was used on the day, so it was a popular activity. I borrowed some acrylic paint and brushes from our art department and used some masking tape, cups and paper plates from our MakerSpace trolley.
Our usual MakerSpace was being used so I spread newspaper over the tables in the main library area. Students could either paint the whole coaster or use masking tape to create a design which then made a lovely effect when the tape was peeled off. We left them to dry over night.
This was a popular activity, with about thirty students turning up. I was a bit worried that it was very girl-centric but we did get a few boys turning up to make gifts for their mums.
I bought a whole lot of cheap beads from Modern Teaching Aids (about a thousand for $10 depending on the type of bead) and we got 1000 rings of memory wire for $20 on ebay. We pre-cut the wire and kinked one end to stop the beads falling off. The kids then started threading. There were some lovely creations from kids who had a good eye for colour and pattern, and a few that were a random mish-mash. We kinked the other end when they were done and the kids acted as great ambassadors for the MakerSpace as they walked around the school showing off their bracelets.