Every Tuesday and Thursday from 11-12:30, we have an open makerspace time for students to sign up to explore the world of making. This time supports students from many of our grades, but it doesn’t support all students. In addition to weaving makerspace into projects, I’ve been trying to host times for grades who can’t come at our normal makerspace hours to come and explore
Kindergarten is one of these grades. The Kindergarten teachers came to a maker professional learning session I did in the new year, and they really wanted to work out times for small groups of students to come to makerspace. We made a plan to have a couple of days each week where 3 students from each class came for a 30-minute maker time. That equals 12 students. For now, the students are different each time until we see the students who really get hooked into some of the maker tools. That means I have to offer the same experience multiple times so that all students get to try it.
The first day, we made kazoos out of rubber bands, popsicle sticks, and straws. This is an activity straight from Aaron & Colleen Graves’s Big Book of Makerspace Projects. It honestly wasn’t the best experience for this age or maybe just this group. The fine motor skills in the group had a hard time putting the pieces of the kazoo together, and tears flowed if the kazoos didn’t make a sound. Even with some growth mindset reminders and walking through how to back up and try again, there were still students who just gave up. The students also needed a lot more assistance with this project than what I wanted for makerspace. We still had fun and hosted a mini-parade around the library with kazoo. We also had a great conversation about what we might try if we made our own adjustments to the kazoos.
I decided to abandon that project with the next group and try something new.
Next, we tried stop motion videos and Lego construction. Magic started to happen with this experience. We started by looking at a 4th grade stop motion project from last year and seeing what we noticed.
I have a box of Lego mini-figure pieces, so I pulled that out and asked students to construct one mini-figure and put it on a base plate.
In a matter of moments, they not only created the mini-figures, but they also started adding accessories that really started to create a story right before our eyes.
Next, I asked students to take their mini-figure and place it at an iPad I had setup at tables around the library. Then they came back to me at the building table. I demonstrated the Stop Motion Studio app on the iPad and used a mini-figure to show how to keep the iPad and base plate still while making small movements with the mini-figure.
Finally, students went to their tables and gave it a try. It was magical to look around and see such engagement. Every student was focused. Every student was creating a story. Every student was eager to keep going even when I said time was up.
Now I’ll be honest that the quality of the stop motion created has a lot of room for improvement. The fine motor skills still got in our way, but I’m really thinking about how I can help students keep their plates and iPads still while only moving their figures. They really tried hard not to move things around, but they just couldn’t help it sometimes.
At the end, I asked them if they would continue working on this type of project and all students in 2 separate groups of 12 said yes. We talked about how you would need more time and how you would create more elements of a narrative story. The engagement was high, and it has my wheels turning about how this can be done with more students and how I can support the students in creating higher quality projects in the end. There is great potential for storytelling projects in the future. For a 30-minute session, it was a great start.
If you have stop motion tips for our earliest learners, please leave a comment.