I know it has been awhile since I have blogged, with school starting and life I have been quite busy. I am really excited to be back and blogging. It’s amazing how therapeutic it can be to let others know what you are doing and just to get your ideas out there. So before I get to the good stuff a quick update on an exciting and eye opening adventure I got to experience recently.
This Winter break I took the week before Christmas off ( I know ambitious but only time my husband and I could get off of work) to go to Europe for 3 weeks. It was one of the most amazing adventures I have ever experienced in my life. We were in London for a week, Paris over a weekend, Munich a week, and visiting family for another week. It was very hard to come back to the hustle and bustle that is life in America and teaching Kindergarten. I learned a lot about different cultures and even a little about the educational system in Germany. I would love to go back and just learn about the schooling systems in these countries. To just see how they teach and be able to connect with other educators. Here are a couple of photos from my recent adventure, you can also see me add some as I update my Twitter account, follow me @hawkskhaleesi (also if you like this blog it’s a great place to hear about my blog updates, thoughts on education, technology, Seattle Seahawks and life).
This year I have really been bugged by the amount of curriculum preaching (curriculum driven whole group lecture type teaching) and testing I have been having to implement in my classroom. I was noticing many of my Kinders having bad attitudes about learning. It was very disheartening, I wanted to say I know kiddos I hate this too. So, I changed my teaching to include more centers, shorter sermons, and more movement. This helped immensely with the attitude change in my students and they were more excited about learning. I still was feeling unsettled like I was missing something. I started seeing more and more about the importance of unstructured/creative play time especially in the younger grades in blogs and tweets that I read. I talked to my librarian about the makerspace she was starting to create and thought how cool that would be in a classroom as well. Then winter break came and I went on my trip.
When I got back to teaching, I realized that in all the other countries I saw kids playing more. I came back with a resolution to try and realize that my job is to help students learn, yes, but also expose them to a LOVE of learning. If I am cramming things in to try and get it done for administration, that may not necessarily be what is best for my students. I wanted to incorporate more hands on activities, play, and learning tuned to their needs. Now, it is not like I wasn’t doing this before, just came back more focused to incorporate these changes. I continued talking to our librarian about how it was going creating the makerspace, what is it suppose to look like, how makerspaces worked and what we had read about them. This in combination with my resolution, created my personal classroom makerspace.
In education there are A LOT of buzzwords that fly across a screen in a blog, pinterest, twitter, etc. Makerspace is one of these words/concepts. My definition of a Makerspace is a designated space that holds materials that promotes creating for kids. Materials often include legos, blocks, crayons,paper,paint, scissors,recyclables,knex, etc. If you stop and think right now, many of you probably already have makerspaces in your classroom without knowing it. Before I started I always pictured makerspaces as these grand areas for creating that were all beautifully decorated and designed. As I started to look into it more I found that this was not the case at all. These areas are easy to put together and have a very low cost. In my classroom I have a designated corner and table where all my maker stuff is located/stored, then students can take their creation to anywhere in the classroom to create. I have snap circuits, goldie blox, blocks, dinosaurs, legos, cars, paper, scissors, tape, and colored pencils to mention a few things.
Students play with snap circuits at a desk or the floor. I have removed the batteries to avoid any potential shock scenarios, but when they are ready to try their circuit I bring the batteries over and we see if what they created works. If it doesn’t work it always opens up great discussion and problem solving where I have to say very little to promote learning. Which is always what we want to see. Students self motivated to work for the FUN and curiosity of learning. Here are the kiddos hard at work on their snap circuit.
In addition to snap circuits we use blocks and pattern blocks. Here are some of the creations they have made.
Creating a makerspace is fairly easy, but finding the time for a makerspace can be more difficult. I know that with some curriculum's it can be trying to find time for kiddos to create. One way that I am currently incorporating makerspace time is through extra recess.This is an indoor play time, where students can choose to work on makerspace creations or play with other toys. Additionally, I try to incorporate time to use the resources at the makerspace area in lessons. Using stuffed animals to talk about habitat, then prompting students to build the stuffed animal a home with certain items in the makerspace. I have been thinking about making makerspace a center in my morning rotations starting this next month as another way to promote the makerspace with my students.
This blog was to let you know of what I am trying and give you a couple of ideas on how I am incorporating a makerspace into my classroom. I am by no means an expert or claim to know very much about makerspaces. Feel free to check out other sources on makerspaces. #edtechchat just had a wonderful chat about Makerspaces and MakerEd, where you can find more ideas of how educators are implementing makerspaces in their classroom. Click on link above and then click on the document called MakerEd and Makerspaces with @nathanstevens. I encourage you all to try makerspaces in your classroom. It’s a great way to incorporate play and exploration.
I recently learned of another initiative on bringing play back into schools called Global School Play Day, which is on February 3rd. Look for my next blog on how this day went in my classroom.
Until next time Play more, teach passionately,use tech,and be Kinder,Lara