I thought that since I started my blog in early 2017, but started my Maker Lab in September 2016, that I would mention some lessons and activities that went well back at the start of it all.
Here are some of them in no particular order of importance:
First week of School 2016: We opened a new building. All was shiny and new (and still is for the most part). I introduced students to the Maker Space. We talked as classes about what we thought it would be, what it might evolve to be, and where we would start. With the help of some first and fourth graders, they helped me “MAKE” a sign out of “Maker Materials”. This sign still hangs proudly in my space.
Mystery Maker Challenges: This is something I have done a few times with all different grade levels. They love it. It’s fun, challenging, and easy to prepare. I basically introduce the lesson as “a challenge”. The students are all given the same “mystery items” and are given the majority of the class time to work together to create something with those materials. Depending on the class or subject area, I have given suggestions to guide them to create something related to a topic they are studying in class. Sometimes it has been opened-ended. The students have come up with some amazing ideas. I always end the class with time for a gallery walk, where students can share their work. I provide the students a piece of paper to name, label, or write some details about what they made. Their ideas always surprise me! This can be a great way to bring maker lab activities into your classroom, even if you don’t have a space set aside for “making”.
Fourth Grade Health Lessons: The 4th graders at my school started the year with a Health Unit. If you have ever taught any type of Health Unit, you know that it’s not always the most exciting to teach. It often involves a reading from a textbook, maybe a worksheet to go along with it. Not too exciting. Well, this is where a 4th grade teacher and I collaborated to come up with some exciting Maker Lab activities that aligned with the Health lessons.
–Communication: This lesson was about verbal vs. non-verbal communications. Students worked in groups with “Fiddlesticks”. Part 1 of the activity (verbal communication) was to work as a group to build a specific design out of the “Fiddlesticks”. The students could talk and discuss which parts to build, which blocks to use, etc. Part 2 of the activity (non-verbal communication) they had to make a new design without talking. They had to use examples of non-verbal communication that they had learned in class and apply them to a group-work activity. It was a challenge for many! It was hard not to talk, but guess what? They eventually settled down and completed the task!
–Lessons on Stress: The 4th graders had completed some lessons on Dealing with Stressful Situations. We decided to use legos for an extension lesson about Stress.
Students were given “situation cards” that included a variety of stressors that students may deal with in and out of school. They worked in groups to create scenes that showed a positive way to deal with stress. They really got a lot out of the lesson!
–Foil Boat Challenge: I have done this activity a few times with a few different grade levels. When I did this activity with 4th graders, we tied into the Stressful Situations lessons in Health. But, it could easily be made into a “Maker Challenge”.
Students were given one piece of foil and a limit of time. They had to make a foil boat that would float and hold coins. The challenge was exciting for the students. They worked together. They made changes, they were creative. They learned from their mistakes. Some students were frustrated easily, which led to a great connection and discussion about stress! We talked about appropriate responses to feelings and how they felt when making the foil boats.
I have so many more ideas to share. Please stay tuned! Also check out past post of lessons from this year on my school twitter account: @amyfavinger