Summer of Science: Round Up 5

This week ran a little less efficiently. I was teaching a makerspace class in the afternoons which compressed our day into a couple hours. I let stuff go and didn’t stress about it. It is summer after all! Please see the widget in the sidebar for pictures from each day. 

Day 1: Garden Harvest

I didn’t get a picture this time, but there were more tomatillos, squash, tomatoes, and peppers waiting for us in the garden.

Day 2: Lego Building

Our neighbor came over to play with Cam and they got out the Legos to build with together. Cam has told me she wants to be a builder when she grows up. 

Day 3 & 4: Machi Koro

I bought this card game at Target for Tom and I to play, but Cam saw it and wanted to give it a try. There was a lot of practical math and economics involved with it and she won the first game. She ended up asking to play again and again. 

Friday Five: Be Yourself

This week I thought I would highlight five books that encourage children to be their own person. I think this is something many kids (and adults!) struggle with so sending the message that you are okay just as you are is incredibly important. 

You Be You1. You Be You by Linda Kranz

This one is pure inspirational fluff. It has an incredibly obvious message. And that’s okay. Plus the pictures are what make this book for kids. The fish are all painted rocks and they make for something incredibly visually engaging to look at. Cam will pore over these pictures finding different sizes of fish, different patterns, and different colors. As a parent I love hitting that message that it’s okay to be unique. 

 

Doo-Wop Pop2. Doo-Wop Pop written by Roni Schotter, illustrated by Bryan Collier

This book is not overtly about being yourself. A group of shy kids come together with the help of the school janitor who teaches them to sing doo-wop. The group slowly comes out of their shells and connects with their class, their school and their community. The book shines in its themes of friendship and finding your place and encourages kids to find what their passionate about, even if it’s not what everyone else is about. Collier’s illustrations, as always, are beautiful. 

 

 

It's Okay to Be Different3. It’s Okay to Be Different by Todd Parr

Todd Parr’s book also have messages loud and clear, but they are so positive and affirming. His illustrations are delightfully simple and bright. And many of the differences he highlights are funny and endearing. But don’t be fooled. There is depth here too. He encourages children to really be themselves even if it’s different from their peers or from what they are taught is “normal”. 

 

 

A Color of His Own4. A Color of His Own by Leo Lionni

 Chameleon changes color to match his surroundings, but he wants to have a color that belongs just to him. So he tries staying put in one place. On a leaf. You can guess what happens as the seasons progress. Then the chameleon finds a friend and he discovers that being himself is a lot better with a friend. 

 

 

 

Let Me Help5. Let Me Help! by Alma Flor Ada, illustrated by Angela Dominguez

Perico just wants to help his family celebrate Cinco de Mayo, but all the activities he joins he makes a mess of. After flying down the street and out into the town Perico finds his family on their rented boat and discovers how he can be helpful just by being himself. Cam loves this book and the pictures are bright and colorful and inviting. The ending is very sweet as the parrot finds his place. 

Summer of Science: Round Up 4

Again I didn’t go with a theme or anything this week. I also let some of our science “lessons” emerge organically from what Cam was doing on her own. Please se the widget in the sidebar for pictures from each day. 

Day 1: I See a Pattern Here by Bruce Goldstone

This is an awesome book for slightly older readers. It’s more than a concept book about shapes or patterns and has good vocabulary and lots of different types of patterns. I had checked the book out a few weeks ago and, while I was enticed by all the bright colors and patterns, Cam hadn’t clicked with it. Then she saw it sitting out and asked to read it. Hooray!

Day 2: Pattern Play

Inspired by one of the pages in I See a Pattern Here we got out these little quilt-like fabric puzzle pieces I had made years ago (if you’re interested in the pattern I used you can find it here). For the longest time Cam was using the little squares as blankets and pillows and rugs for her My Little Ponies and in her barn, but we used them as the puzzle today. She really enjoyed making patterns and having me copy them. 

Day 3: Garden Harvest

Our garden is going gangbusters right now. There are a lot of peppers and tomatoes ripening or needing to be picked. There are squashes growing and hopefully we’ll see some beans soon. Today we went out and harvested what was ready. One teeny tiny strawberry made it. The plants are leftover from last year (they were shoots that the plants sent off the bales and into the ground) and because they are growing on the ground they are being munched by slugs. Yuck. 

Day 4: Train Set

Cam got our her wooden train set today and Went. To. Town. Building a town. I think I had misconceptions about what age she would start really using her building materials. They seem to have taken off in popularity with her in the past six months or so, but I had expected it sooner. Either was we have a TON of these wooden tracks, trains, and buildngs (thanks to my husband’s grandmother who saved every last toy of his and IKEA who makes them super affordable). 

Day 5: Poetry Friday

I am really liking this idea of reading STEM based poetry on Fridays. We often eat out on Fridays (it’s the one day I work and it’s often much less stressful to let someone else do the cooking, especially considering we still have all our farm responsibilities on Fridays in addition to a working mama). It’s so easy to pop a poetry book in my bag and bring it into the restaurant to read while we wait for our food. It is also getting us to get out our poetry collection and read the books. This week it was Turtle in July by Marilyn Singer and illustrated by Jerry Pinkney. The cover features a red-eared slider and we have one of those so there was hook for Cam. The poems themselves were short and simple and follow through the seasons (one of my favorite kinds of books)

Day 6: Another Garden Harvest

 There were more tomatoes and tomatillos waiting for us today. And an ENORMOUS squash. 

Day 7: Homemade Tinkertoys

Tomorrow I start teaching my Makerspace class and I’m going to begin with some construction activities and challenges. Today I have to make some homemade Tinkertoys with toilet paper tubes and a hole punch and I’m going to have Cam help me test them out before I put them out tomorrow. If you want to make your own check out the instructions here.

Friday Five: Grandparents

With summer here many kids may be over at the grandparents’ house while out of school or the whole family may head off to visit grandparents. Here is a list of five great books about grandparents.

Tea with Grandpa1. Tea with Grandpa written and illustrated by Barney Saltzberg

This is such a darling story about a little girl having a tea party with her grandfather. They pour tea and nibble on cookies together every week at the same time. The text is simple and the illustrations are lovely and gentle. A clever page turn at the end reveals, though, that the two are having tea over Skype. A great story for kids whose grandparents aren’t nearby. 

 

 

 

Sunday Shopping2. Sunday Shopping written by Sally Derby, illustrated by Shadra Strickland

This is the kind of book that I would have loved as a child. Every Sunday night Evie and her grandmother get out the sale papers, some glue and a pair of scissors. Together they go through and cut out things they would love to buy, from a ham for dinner and lunches that week to a special jewelry box. Sunday Shopping is such a lovely story about creativity, storytelling, and a special time spent each week with a grandparent. It isn’t stated whether Evie lives with her grandmother or just visits, but there is a picture of Evie’s mother on the night stand that shows her in uniform. I think a lot kids would love to try out the game after reading this story. 

 

Love as Strong3. Love as Strong as Ginger written by Lenore Look, illustrated by Stephen T. Johnson

Katie loves to eat the delicious food her GninGnin prepares for her. She also loves stories of the crab factory where GninGnin works. One day she is able to join her grandmother, rising early and watching what it is GninGnin does as the crab chong. Katie discovers that the day is long and hard, but that her grandmother continues so that Katie will have a better future. While the book is about the sacrifice the grandmother is willing to make for her granddaughter, it’s also about Katie’s realization of how much her grandmother loves her and how she shows it. 

 

 

The Airport Book4. The Airport Book written and illustrated by Lisa Brown

A family packs up their suitcases and heads for the airport. The text follows them through the various stops and processes that are involved with airports and flying and makes a good introduction for kids headed to the airport for the first time. The trip culminates in a beach vacation with their grandparents. The text is okay in this one, it certainly offers a lot to children curious about airports and flying, but it’s the pictures that make the book shine. There is so much to look at in them and lots of untold stories that you can follow through the book (be sure to keep your eye on Monkey who has an adventure of her own!). A good one for families headed on a plane to visit grandparents. 

 

 

Gooligulch5. My Grandma Live in Gooligulch written and illustrated by Graeme Base

I have loved this book since I was girl. It’s just plain wacky and fun, like most of Graeme Base’s books. The story introduces a particularly eccentric grandmother who lives in a tiny town in Australia and then follows her on an ill-fated trip to the seaside. Grandma has all kinds of animals that come visit her tiny home in Gooligulch and she encounters more on her vacation. There is a lot to look at in the illustrations (again, this is typical of Graeme Base’s books) and makes for a great time poring over. The end leaves the reader with the question, was any of this real or is it wishful thinking on the narrator’s part? It’s also fun to imagine if this was your own grandmother!

Summer of Science: Round Up 3

I didn’t really go with any type of theme this week. We just sort of found science in our everyday lives. For pictures see my Instagram feed to the right. You can click on it to bring up the website and see larger images. 

Day 1: Polymer Science

Cam had a friend over today and I amazed them both by sticking pencils through a water-filled plastic bag. I got it all set up and then asked them what they thought would happen if I stabbed a pencil through the bag. Of course they thought it would burst or leak, but it didn’t. Read about why and see where I got the idea here on Tinkerlab.

Day 2: Sick Day

Cam was sick all morning so all plans went out the window. 

Day 3: Telescope

We got out the telescope tonight and looked at the moon and Mars. Tom is still figuring out how to use the telescope so sometimes it’s easiest to just point it at the biggest, brightest thing in the night sky- the moon. 

Day 4: Garden Harvest

More of our tomatoes and tomatillos were ready for picking. We’ll be making salsa this weekend!

Day 5: Poetry Friday

I love the idea of combining the language arts piece with science! I recently bought the Poetry Friday Anthology for Science to use with Cam and in the library this next year. 

Day 6: Legos

Cam has really been into Legos for the last few weeks. We’ve been getting the little $5 sets at Target when we go and she comes right home and builds them. To me it’s amazing. She sits down, opens the packages of pieces, lays them out, puts out the direction booklet and then builds. We recently swapped out her Duplos for the smaller traditional Legos, but she hasn’t been as interested in building from scratch and her mind. I know she will get there though watching how she loves to build and play with these sets. 

Day 7: Aerospace Museum of California

Today is Father’s Day and we’re two of Cam’s four grandpas to the Aerospace Museum of California. We went two years ago and even at almost three Cam had fun looking at all the planes and models. I think she’ll be even more excited this year.

Friday Five: Ramadan

Ramadan started on June 5th and because of a very cool book and set we’ve been celebrating it. 

Ramadan Date Palm1. The Ramadan Date Palm written by Fatemeh Mashouf, illustrated by Vera Pavlova

This is the book that started it all, so to speak. Through one of my best friends I saw a crowd funding project for a book, stuffed toy, activity cards, and plate set that was intended to foster pride in Muslim children as well as excitement around Ramadan (i.e. not Christmas, watch their story here, you’ll see what she means). When the box arrived on our doorstep Cam was intrigued. After reading the book she asked to read it all over again right away. Then she started asking when Ramadan would start so we could do the cards and celebrate. The book is darling and while intended for Muslim kids would mostly make sense to kids of any faith. It does a good job of explaining what the holiday is and what it means for Muslims. For more on the story read my full review over on my library blog. You can hear the full story on their website as well as order a copy/set for yourself.

Under the Ramadan Moon2. Under the Ramadan Moon written by Sylvia Whitman, illustrated by Sue Williams

This makes the perfect bedtime story during Ramadan. It has simple rhythmic text and gentle pictures. It isn’t very long or involved either which makes it good for winding down or for sharing with young children. While it does give a bit of information on Ramadan, it’s not really intended to teach about the holiday. There isn’t a story here per se, but it does celebrate all the fun things that go on during the month. 

 

Party in Ramadan3. A Party in Ramadan written by Asma Mobin-Uddin, illustrated by Laura Jacobsen

This book is a bit longer and might be better suited to slightly older children (although Cam enjoyed it).  Leena decides to attend a birthday party on the day she is fasting for the first time. At first she thinks it will be no problem, but as the party wears on and she runs around and sees chocolate cake, Leena isn’t so sure going to the party was such a good idea. The ending is very sweet as Leena has a conversation with her dad about how hard fasting can be. And it turns out her friends have saved her some cake and they drop by to share it after the fast has been broken. For older children this may be a familiar story, but it celebrates Leena’s accomplishment and strength in sticking with her fast despite the tempting chocolate frosting. 

Nabeel4. Nabeel’s New Pants: An Eid Tale retold by Fawzia Gilani-Williams, illustrated by Proiti Roy

This story is just plain funny. Nabeel, while out buying Eid presents for his family, buys himself a new pair of pants. But there isn’t time to have the tailor hem them up. Nabeel goes around to his wife, mother and daughter handing out gifts and asking for help with his pants, but no one has time. They’re too busy making food for Eid. Finally Nabeel goes home and does the sewing himself. Feeling guilty, though, each woman sneaks over and hems Nabeel’s pants up a little more. A well-timed page turn reveals Nabeel in his new shorts! Oops. Fortunately they have saved the fabric scraps and are able to repair his pants. The text is a bit long, but so much of it repeats that it doesn’t feel long. It also gives kids the chance to jump in and say it along with you. I think this ties in with the idea from Rafiq and Friends that Ramadan should be fun for children and this will certainly help bring an element of humor! 

Ramadan Moon5. Ramadan Moon written by Na’ima B Robert, illustrated by Shirin Adi 

 Another sweet book that celebrates all the fun things that happen during Ramadan. I absolutely love the illustrations in this one. They are made with different types of paper and fabric, plus some pen and ink details. They are so arresting. I also appreciated that this book is set in Iran with an Iranian family. A lot of the books about Muslims feature Arab characters and it isn’t only Arabs who are Muslim. The story is a little longer than Under the Ramadan Moon, but is similar in content so if you have a slightly older child this might be a better fit. 

 

 Please note, there are other lists out there of Ramadan books. Many of them are fine lists. The books I have listed here, however, are appropriate both for Muslims children and non-Muslim children, meaning they don’t over explain the faith. Books with lots of extra information and definitions are not meant for Muslim kids, they’re books to help non-Muslims understand and I didn’t want a list like that. The other thing to be aware of is that at the end of Ramadan there is an Eid. Eid simply means holiday or celebration in Arabic, but the full name for Eid after Ramadan is Eid al-Fitr. There is a second Eid, Eid al-Adha which is the time when many Muslims make hajj, or the pilgrimage to Mecca. I have noticed that there are a couple books about hajj and Eid al-Adha that have been lumped, I suspect unknowingly, into Ramadan book lists. This indicates that the person making the list wasn’t especially clear on Islam. Am I saying I know all there is to know? No, not at all. Is exposure to books about Eid al-Adha a bad thing? No, but it kind of alienates Muslim kids who would know the difference. I tried to be sensitive in this list by adding books that Muslim kids can enjoy as much as their non-Muslim friends. 

Summer of Science: Round Up 2

This week we did a bit with water. It is summer after all. For pictures see my Instagram feed at the right.

Day 1: Moon Phases

Today was the first day of Ramadan. Since the Muslim calendar runs on a lunar cycle you know Ramadan has begun when the new moon is sighted. Today we read a little bit about moon phases so she would understand how the month of Ramadan would progress. It gave us some good new vocabulary too- waxing, waning, crescent, etc. 

Day 2: Shaving Cream Clouds

This was a very simple but exciting experiment the combined a chat about weather and about color theory. Fill a glass with water and spray the top with a pile of shaving cream. You then drip food coloring into the “cloud” and slowly it leaks through into the water. The color initially swirling into the water is fascinating and beautiful and if you do more than one color they mix together in a very dramatic way. I got the idea of Pinterest and it was a hit.

Before we started I asked Cam if she knew why/how clouds rained. I was very surprised to find that she does. I suspect she got it off one of her PBS videos, but I was impressed she recalled it. During the experiment we made predictions of what colors would form if we mixed red and yellow, red and blue, and blue and yellow. Most of the time she had no idea so I might try some other fun color experiments this summer. 

Day 3: Do Oil and Water Mix?

We explored how oil and water repel each other using an ice cube floated in a glass of oil. This was fun because to make the water more visible floating in the oil we dropped food coloring onto the ice cube. As droplets melted the food coloring mixed with the water and dripped into the oil. The end result looked a lot like a homemade lava lamp. It helped that I poured the oil into wine glasses. :) 

Cam is into the experiments where you do the initial set up and maybe even a bit of observation then come back to them over several intervals and make more observations. 

Day 4: Thursday

Thursdays are tricky. If I can plan something very quick and simple and Cam wakes up early enough, gets breakfast and over her process of waking up, then we can do something. This week after getting up late we had swim lessons again and then Cam went to my mom’s house for the afternoon. We didn’t manage to do anything especially science-y today.

Day 5: Water Sings Blue

Today we did a little Poetry Friday. I read several ocean themed poems from the beautiful book Water Sings Blue. I love the blend of information and imagery in this book and it’s very appealing to young audiences. Cam can sit through several poems before wanting to move on to something with a bit more narrative, but those few poems are so worth it. This was perfect too because I brought it with us to the restaurant where we ate dinner and it gave us a few minutes of something to do while we waited for food.

Day 6: The Save Water Game

 A fun little board game in our book How Things Work. Water is always a big deal out here in California and our family likes to talk about conserving it. This was a good little reinforcement of that. 

Day 7: Harvesting

I started our tomato plants from seed way back in January and today we will harvested the first fruits!!! Home-grown, homemade salsa here we come!!!!!

Friday Five: Death

I am part of a group on Facebook that is for a bunch of moms (and a few dads). We ask all kinds of questions about kids and about life and use the hive mind to help us through parenting. One question that has come up at least three times are picture books that deal with the subject of death. Here are five books that can help you talk with your child about death, plus three bonus books since I feel like you can’t have too many in the arsenal to help you through a difficult discussion. Plus there is bound to be one that will work for your family.

Hugs on the Wind1. Hugs on the Wind wirtten by Marsha Diane Arnold and Vernise Elaine Pelzel, illustrated by Elsa Warnick

In this book a small bunny and his mother spend the day together in a field. As they go about their day the little bunny expresses sadness over missing his grandfather. His mother helps him see that he can send his grandfather hugs and thoughts through the wind, the stream, and the grass. It isn’t stated if the grandfather has moved away or if he died, but it certainly works in either case. The soft pastel illustrations reinforce the gentle tone of the book.

 

 

My Father's Arms2. My Father’s Arms Are a Boat written by Stein Erik Lunde, illustrated by Oyvind Torseter, translated by Kari Dickson

A small boy tosses and turns in his bed after being tucked in by his father. The boy returns to the living room to find his father also struggling to sleep. The two discuss the birds outside and the foxes. Then, tentatively, the boy asks if his mother is also asleep and will never wake. After confirming the truth, the father gathers the boy up in his arm and carries him outside for the two to enjoy a few minutes outside in the cold night. Then they come in and curl up together.

The black background and small, subtle color accents in the cut-paper diorama illustrations create a sombre tone in the story. The slumped posture of the father and the gently closed eyes drawn on their faces give the reader a sense of the weight of the death. The book is not flashy or obvious, in fact it’s quite contemplative. I think My Father’s Arms does a really lovely job of showing how grief can be shared between loved ones and celebrates the simplicity of a child’s understanding of death. 

Duck, Death and the Tulip3. Duck, Death and the Tulip by Wolf Erlbruch 

This book is particularly philosophical. Death appears one day behind Duck. Death is a charming small child-like body with a skull for a head and face wearing a checkered robe and skirt, black slippers and carrying a black tulip in it’s black hands. At first Duck is leery of Death, but slowly she comes to accept Death’s presence and discovers Death is not frightening. The two talk and visit the pond. Duck even offers Death a kindness and warms him. The two discuss what might happen after death. As summer comes to a close Duck begins to feel cold and asks Death to return her favor and keep her warm. In a moment Duck has passed. Death gently carries her to the river, places the tulip oh her breast and pushes her down the river. As Death watches Duck disappear he muses “But that’s life”. So true. The illustrations have few embellishments and feature the Duck and Death very prominently. Erlbruch does an incredible job showing emotion and expression on the faces of the their faces considering they have few facial features and change very little from one page to the next. 

Cry Heart4. Cry, Heart, But Never Break written by Glenn Ringtved, illustrated by Charlotte Pardi

Along the same lines as Duck, Death and the Tulip is Cry, Heart, But Never Break. In this story three children are living in a house with their elderly grandmother. Death arrives on their door step one evening and in an attempt to prevent him from taking their beloved grandmother they try to keep death awake all night with tea. The soft watercolor illustrations are washes of grey, black and small pops of color. This soft palette and the flowing lines of the paint set a quiet, thoughtful mood for the book. Death, knowing the children are stalling, tells them a parable to help them understand that without death life has very little meaning. As the children grasp his meaning they allow him to take their grandmother. 

This is such an amazing book. It does such a good job of explaining why death is a necessary part of life and why life should be celebrated when we have it. It also encourages readers to mourn for their loss, but not to be consumed by it. 

Rabbityness5. Rabbityness written and illustrated by Jo Empson

In this book Rabbit is loved by all his friends. He is creative and fun. But one day he just isn’t there. The rabbits mourn for their loss of their friend, but realize he has left them with the gift of creativity in their hearts and they feel close to him despite his absence. The bright splashy illustrations match the upbeat presentation of death. 

 

 

Bonus books:

Sonya's ChickensSonya’s Chickens written and illustrated by Pheobe Wahl

A newer book about a girl who raises chickens from chicks. One night a fox sneaks into the coop and takes a chicken. Sonya is devastated until her father explains that the chicken nourished the fox and his family. It’s all in how you think about death in nature. 

 

Boats for PapaBoats for Papa written and illustrated by Jessixa Bagley

This is a story where it isn’t apparent that the father is dead. A little beaver send boats he has made out to sea for his papa to find. He believes that if the boat does not return to shore by morning it means his father has found them at sea and kept them. Over the course of a year he sends many out until one day he discovers his mother has been collecting them off the beach and stashing them. From this the beaver makes new meaning realizing that while he misses his papa he is grateful for his mother who has supported him and created a loving home. 

Summer of Science: Round Up 1

I decided to do some light exploration and experiments this past week because Cam had been watching an episode of Curios George that featured rainbows. In the episode one of the characters shows George how to make a rainbow with a bowl of water, a piece of paper, and a flashlight. Cam was totally fascinated and completely without prompting or any input from me, wandered off after the episode was over and tried to do the experiment herself. She was a little disappointed it didn’t quite work, but I promised to help her out with it the next day. Instead I thought we might take some time this week and explore light in number of different ways. 

For pictures see my Instagram feed to the right. 

Day 1: Reading

I bought this new book called How Things Work (there are several books with that title, but this one is new and more at a preschool level). It just so happens that it has a couple pages dedicated to light, so we read the introduction to understand a little bit more about light. 

Day 2: Shadow Play

After learning a bit about light we went outside with a stuffed rabbit and set her up on the driveway. I traced her shadow and we came inside. Thirty minutes later we went back out to retrace the shadow. Before coming inside the first time I asked Cam if she thought the shadow would move (she said no). Then I reminded her of the question when we went back out.

She was amazed that it had moved and we talked about what was happening. I asked her if she knew what the light source was outside that was helping cast the shadow (she knew it was the sun). I asked is she thought the sun moved across the sky or stayed in the same place. After some thought she said she thought it moved. I explained that this was why the shadow appeared to move across the driveway and that the distance the shadow had moved was also the distance the sun had moved across the sky in those 30 minutes. She was hooked. We had to come back out several more times (before the sun dipped behind a tree and obscured the shadow). We were also able to notice that the shadows lengthened and changed shape. The reason why was a lot harder for her to understand, but the more we discuss it I’m sure she’ll begin to grasp it better. 

She wanted to do it again the next day with some other toys. 

Day 3: Spectroscope

This was kind of a flop. The device is a little bit like a periscope, but is supposed to help diffract light so you can see a rainbow Cam had a hard time seeing the rainbow in the spectroscope and she wasn’t as engaged with it. The thing is, you don’t really need the “fancy” set up with a paper towel tube and paper slit to see a rainbow in a CD. Just put it in a light environment and move it around. I thought she would like this experiment more because it was very similar to what she saw and attempted on Curious George. I was wrong. 

We did end up getting out the prism and made some more shadow outlines with My Little Ponies and she was a into those for a little while. 

Day 4: Water Wall

We ended up upgrading our water table. Cam hadn’t been overly interested in setting it up and playing with it so we got a water wall. It allows her to dump water into the top and then there is a variety of cups, strainers, buckets, chutes, and funnels that fit into holes in the wall. They catch the water and divert it down the wall into the bottom pool. It’s very cool and a neat experiment in playing with gravity and water. 

Day 5: Moon sighting

Today we are going to head out and look for the moon. It rose this morning between 5:30 and 6 and will set sometime around 9 which means it’s really only up when the sun is up. Ramadan, the Muslim holy month dedicated to fasting and reflection, begins tonight at sundown. The start of the month is begun by sighting the new moon. This is an interesting discussion to have with Cam as it ties in history to the science of time in talking about using the lunar versus the solar calendar. 

Friday Five: Makerspace

While I’m technically a stay at home mom I have cobbled together a few jobs that I do get out of the house for. One of these jobs is running the lower school makerspace at the school I’ve worked on and off for. A makerspace, if you are not familiar with the term, is simply a place you can make things. Sometimes they are high tech and for adults, sometimes they are full of recycled materials and art supplies for kids. If it’s truly a makerspace there is very little direction given to the people who use the space. Participants bring their own ideas and make them happen. Oftentimes there are people available to help teach a new skill (sometimes these are other members, sometimes they are staff) or lend a hand. But for the most part what goes on in the space is entirely student or participant driven. For kids, whose lives are often highly scheduled and directed, a makerspace can be both intimidating (what do you mean you aren’t going to tell me exactly what to do?) and liberating (wait, I can take this styrofoam block and make it into this invention in my head?!). 

For our kids, our makerspace falls somewhere in between the high tech and low tech. We have a mix of things like art supplies, cardboard, plastics, and even 3D printers. It was originally meant for students across our Pre-K through 12 school to use, but it’s been hard getting it up and running. So far it’s just been me in there with my lower school kids (2nd-5th graders). The kids absolutely adore the space and it’s been a very popular after school class. 

If you are interested in setting up your own makerspace I highly recommend looking at Tinkerlab. Either the book or the website. Rachel Doorley is awesome and totally gets it. 

This Friday I have five books that embody the makerspace spirit to get you into the mood for making.

Not A Box1. Not A Box by Antoinette Portis

An off-page narrator talks to a small rabbit about the box they are playing with. The narrator doesn’t quite get it, but the rabbit shows that the box is more than meets the eye. This is basically the whole idea of a makerspace. You have a need or find a thing and it inspires you to create.

 

 

Idea2. What Do You Do With an Idea? by Kobi Yamada

To be sure, this one is a little more abstract, but it’s a representation of how an idea can grow and become something. It’s very interesting and I highly recommend using it to spark discussion. 

 

 

 

 

Magnificent Thing

3. The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires

Again another book, this time featuring a little girl, about making something out of odds and ends. She gets frustrated, but after a little bit of time and a walk she comes back to the project. I think this is really important for encouraging kids to stick with projects. They often have a picture in their head of how something is going to turn out and more often than not it doesn’t work out quite how they had imagined. But that’s okay, we need to be flexible when making. 

 

 

Questions Questions4. Questions, Questions by Marcus Pfister

I know this one is very simple, but I think it really emphasizes that questions can come from anywhere and that they are worth exploring. I also like to use this in the library at the beginning of the research process. 

 

 

Doug Unplugged5. Doug Unplugged by Dan Yaccarnio

This is a story about a little robot who has been stuck in a room plugged into the computer learning facts. But when he sees a pigeon on the windowsill he becomes curious and unplugs to follow the bird outside. Doug ends up exploring his city, reinforcing what he’s learned, but also learning that there is nuance in the world and that it’s important to have experiences as well as learning from books and computers. This book encourages hands on experiences which the makerspace is all about.