Makerspaces seem to be everywhere these days! I like to see how different educators design spaces and provide materials for kids to have Maker experiences. I love the idea of giving kids materials at school which they can use to build and create. I would like to have stations similar to ones I observed in the Media Center at Cornelius Elementary recently. The librarian, Pam Lilley, calls her stations Maker Stations.
The librarian applied for a massive grant (Belk Bowl and Lowes for a whopping $110,000) to allow her to redesign her Media Space with flexible seating and tables with casters to allow them to be moved for various purposes depending on the activity. Most of us will not ever be able to have $110,000 to redesign our learning spaces, but it is really not about the money. Her philosophy is grounded in an understanding of the whole child and how children learn best when they are self directed and have a sense of ownership about the activities that they complete. The students self check out books by scanning their book with a scanner into the school’s Destiny checkout program. It is an inviting atmosphere where kids interact with each other at a rotation of eight station activities in Grades K-5. The librarian shows video clips to explain how to use certain maker materials in January then for the next eight weeks, kids rotate to each of the eight stations. I got to observe her with a first grade class and will share pictures and a description of each station. The first picture below gives you a feel for the creative atmosphere with a green screen set up in a pizza box, Lego Wall in background and paper roller coasters! Tall tables with cool stools scream for children to come and make something!
Keva Contraptions with Keva Planks – She directed the two students whose names were on the list for Keva blocks to go there. They designed an awesome tower with a place for a small ball to roll as a part of it. Sometimes she gives them Keva Challenges from the Keva company or other websites.
Marble Maze group – She gave them a bin with marble maze materials.
Make a Lego Duplo Architecture creation. Look through a stack of pictures and decide which Lego structure that you want to build.
Chatterpix – She gave a direction. The character will need to have a face then put in Chatterpix app. They are given markers to draw on paper a character.
Make a book mark out of Art Materials with brown paper.
Little Bits STEAM circuit building – She told them that needed a few specific parts and showed them in the Manual Book how to build it.
Osmo Station: She gave one group an iPad to use with the Osmo.
Dash and Dot Coding Station – A Group uses an iPad to program a Dash robot.
After giving directions for cleaning up, she gives each group a point or not a point in Class Dogo depending on how well they cleaned up.
She lets them check out after looking at their class account on screen.
She said, “If you want a chapter book, raise your hand,” and she gave them a laminated sheet with each genre on it listed on a different colored box. She said, “If you want a pic book, you can get up and get a shelf marker.”
For kids who were not checking out, she gave them a magazine at the table where they had been sitting. They all came back to their tables after self checking out their books and then begin reading with partners.
She “genrefied” the books this past summer by putting colors of stickers on the binding of each book then when kids get the laminated sheet and they are looking for a fantasy book, they can go to the books with the fantasy colored sticker.
Here are the stations that she described that she has for Grades 3-5 for nine weeks:
Program Spheros with Keva wood blocks
How To Draw – She gives them drawing books and websites to see how to draw.
Snap Circuits (These do not hold up well.)
Green Screen in Pizza Box. Use art materials on green straws as characters.
Osmo Pizza Kit – Runa a pizza shop and calculate giving change
Stop Motion Animation. A Ready Animator holds the iPad.
Paper Rollercoaster – They make one Marble paper maze per grade level. She builds the cardboard base and lets them use paper to build the track. Teachers Pay Teachers has a seller who made Paper Rollercoasters which she uses to allow her to make copies of parts of the roller coaster in multiple paper colors. See http://www.paperrollercoasters.com.
She does 8 week rotations from Jan. – March. She has 2-4 students in each group for each station which is an ideal amount. Each child rotates to the eight Maker Stations during the nine weeks. I noticed children who were totally engrossed in building, making, creating and designing. They conditions were set up for them to be successful in this beautiful library space! She has K-2 Stations and Grades 3 – 5 Stations but only runs them for one nine weeks. If students want to use the maker materials after the nine week Maker Station cycle, they can return to the Media Center to do so!
In the Fall she does Digital Citizenship lessons using a variety of resources and teaches students to self check out books with the scanner in Destiny at laptop computers. They click on their picture in Destiny, scan their book and check out books themselves. After the Maker Station rotations which I observed which run January – March, she will do research projects with kids.
A reward is given to children when they reach a certain number of points in Class Dojo where they go to the Lego wall and build. There were NO behavior issues that I observed! Their class time was over and they had interacted with appropriate voice levels and interpersonal interaction.
She gets feedback by giving them a survey to identify a favorite center and she gets rid of not so popular centers.
I am so inspired by the way that Pam has organized the stations rotations in the library. The kids were extremely engaged in working on their station activity for about 20 minutes then they read/checked out books for 15 minutes.
I have Spheros, Lego Story Maker Kits, iPads, Chromebooks, Bloxels video creation kits, Lego WeDo 2.0 robot kits and Keva Wood Planks which I have bought using Grant Money. I will be able to implement some of the same type of stations using the materials that I have. I would also include Bloxels building challenges in my Maker Stations and STEAM challenges that relate to picture books! I am in a Computer Lab, but visiting this library with Maker Space Stations has certainly broadened my perspective on what is possible in how to manage a class of K-5 students with Maker Stations!
For my students in the future, I would like to get Lego Duplo blocks, a Lego Wall, marbles for a Lego Marble making station, pictures on cards for kids to see of locations around the world for them to “create” in the Lego Duplo blocks, Makey Makey kit for kids to make music! Bongos is a simple Makey Makey project that she shows them and the Piano project, but they will find Pac Man and Flappy Bird. She used sponges with the Makey Makey and wet them if needed but not food to conduct electricity. She shows video tutorials at the beginning of the rotation cycle and I would like to curate some tutorials to show to train my students when we do station rotation.
As I have reviewed the N.C. Digital Learning Competencies, I have seen the following standards which the librarian has incorporated and I want to also incorporate in my lessons and with furniture choices in the future:
-Design technology-enriched learning experiences that encourage all students to pursue their individual interests, preferences, and differences.
-Identify, evaluate, and utilize appropriate digital tools and resources to challenge students to create, think critically, solve problems, establish reliability, communicate their ideas, collaborate effectively.
– Evaluate and appropriately modify the form and function of the physical learning environment to create a conducive digital learning environment.
I will continue to remember the excitement that I saw on the faces of children that day! They love to participate in active learning!