I’m always in awe how opportunities present themselves. Maybe it’s luck, maybe it’s making sure your passion is visible. I don’t know how the universe unfolds, but I do know I consider myself dang lucky. Lucky to have landed this job I love, lucky to have people who support me. At the end of last year, I didn’t know what was going to happen. Because our school has shrunk so much in population, I knew my days of teaching art were numbered. I was either going to be laid off, become a substitute teacher, or go back as a classroom teacher. The last one scared me the most. I was a classroom teacher so long ago, I just didn’t see how I could go back to that. Everyone said it would be easy. I don’t know how. I don’t gel with Lucy Calkins, I’m not good at Everyday Math. I can’t do scripts. To go back into that box would be an incredible challenge.
My new principal came to me and offered me a new position: manager of our new Makerspace room. I jumped at the opportunity. Stem kits galore, an empty space. I could build the curriculum, I could tie it together with art. She told me she trusted me rise to the challenge. All I thought was, “Let’s do this!”
First days are unfolding. I’m keeping the following Studio Habits of Mind at the forefront, observation (Looking Closely), Stretch and Explore. Two activities have emerged. These have been done in the art room, but they can easily transfer to Makerspace introductions as well.
First activity: What can a dot be?
I’ve done this a few times but now it has a new introduction:
Give every table a bag of misc. items. Then have children work together to figure out what the jobs are of these items. After they know what these items do, tell them that they can have other jobs too. I like to reference the Littles, but then this really shows my age. So I will tell the children the thumbtack magnet I have can be a stool for a mouse, or a table for a beetle. Let kids put things together in different ways. They will come up with some really great ideas.
After the children have had a chance to get their minds going, let them work together to make something out of the items. It’s amazing what they will come up with, like a hotel in the middle of an island.
Then talk about what a black dot can be. I did not give any ideas or examples on this because when I did, I ended up with pirates with patches. Tell them the challenge will be that they have to make a design using the black dot. It can not be cut or torn. It has to be used somewhere in their artwork or design. Draw big. Fill up the space with as many details as you can.
Let the imaginations fly.
It’s a great way to learn more about your kids, and see how they use a simple item to turn into elaborate stories.