This summer, some other GT teachers and I got together to host some free online classes through Edmodo for our 3rd-5th graders. My class is called, “Make a Theme Park.” Each week, the students are invited to make something for a theme park that they have imagined. For the 1st week, the challenge was to build a model of a theme park ride, and the fantabulous Joey Hudy judged. You can see the post I did on the winners here.
Last week, the students were assigned to create Theme Park mascots. Braeden, Puppeteer Extraordinaire, was our “celebrity judge” for the week. (You can learn more about Braeden in this post.) After viewing a great introduction video from Braeden and exploring some links I made, the students posted videos and/or pictures of their mascots by Thursday evening on Padlets that I created for the purpose. Braeden gave some awesome feedback for each one. As you can see from the picture above, Shelly The Underwater Sock Bunny was the winner. Some of the other fabulous entries were:
No one has ever accused me of being artistic. And, though some might call me “crafty” I’m pretty sure that they don’t mean it in the complimentary sense. When it comes to technology, I am comfortable. When it comes to Scratch programming language, I’m all over it. When it comes to making things from scratch, I’m at a loss.
And yet, I sense the need for many of my students to explore the depths of their creativity. And I realize that, with our ever-increasing reliance on technology, many crafts are becoming lost arts. This is why the “Maker Movement” has started to become so popular. It’s why my students embraced the Global Cardboard Challenge so enthusiastically last year (and I have even bigger plans for this year!). And, it’s why I decided to offer an online class this summer for my students that is all about being off-line and creating. (5 other awesome teachers are offering courses as well – more about that in a future post!)
Since I am, by no means, an expert at making anything but blog posts, I realized that I would need some help if I was going to pull this off. So, I enlisted the help of some people who actually know what they are doing. How did I find them? On Twitter, of course. Joey Hudy is the famous marshmallow cannon maker – now working at Intel. Michael Medvinsky is an awesome middle school music teacher who integrates technology and making into his classes on a regular basis. And Sylvia Todd is the amazing talent behind Sylvia’s Super Awesome Maker Show (and has a book coming out this summer!)
I want to introduce you to the youngest “teacher” of our class this summer. His name is Braeden. If you follow @rafranzdavis on Twitter, then you know her nephew, Braeden. Rafranz is a must-follow for all of the resources and insights about education that she shares. But, I was immediately captivated by the pictures she would tweet of Braeden’s creations. You see, Braeden is developing the skill of making puppets. We’re not talking sock puppets or putting a drawing on a popsicle stick. We’re talking Henson-type creations. You can view some of the amazing puppets he has made on his YouTube channel.
Braeden will be giving tips during one of our “Theme Park” weeks on making a mascot. He will, through Edmodo, respond to questions from the participants and give advice. At the end of the week, he will choose a “winner” from the individual and family categories. I am so glad he (and his aunt) agreed to help out – especially after I saw the video below. This young man knows what he is talking about, and will definitely be able to offer a lot more guidance than I could ever hope to contribute.
Braeden obviously receives incredible support from his family, especially his aunt, who all encourage him to continue in his endeavors. He is well on his way to becoming a professional puppeteer. And these are obviously not skills he has learned in school.
If you have, in any way, observed the Rainbow Loom craze that has swept the nation, then you know that young people really want to make things. What’s exciting is when they stop following instructions, and start venturing out on their own. That is what we, as adults, should galvanize them to do.
So, if you are a teacher or a parent, and you have any influence over someone who is about to have two months of freedom to do just about anything they want to do, be sure to give them this message from Joey Hudy, “Don’t be bored. Make something.”
My series of holiday (or any time) “Gifts for the Gifted” continues today with a set of adorable dolls and puppets from the Unemployed Philosophers Guild. The Little Thinkers dolls include a wide array of influential personalities from different cultures and fields of study. There are scientists, philosophers, artists, musicians, revolutionaries, and even radio hosts (N.P.R.’s Carl Kasell). Inspire your own little thinker with a cuddly Galileo or Frida Kahlo. And if your child has an active imagination, you might want to look at the very reasonably priced puppets – which include some of the same notable personages, but also offer a few different ones, such as Rosa Parks and Nelson Mandela. I would bundle one of these with a children’s book; you can find several of the famous names in Chicago Review Press’ “For Kids” series, some of which are listed on this Amazon list.
I know a lot of parents are considering bestowing iPod Touches or iPads to their children for Christmas, so next Friday, I will be giving a list of apps that you might want to load on your child’s iDevice before you put it under the tree.
Here are links to my previous “Gifts for the Gifted” posts: