Our Lego Wall: A New Way to Interact in the Library

Each year we add a little something new in our library. I’ve watched several libraries add a Lego wall to their libraries and wanted to do it for a long time. We have students who use Lego in our library and makerspace for stop motion videos and storytelling, so I’ve been curious about the possibilities of this collaborative building space and what projects or ideas it might spark for students.

Several librarians have posted helpful tips on how to create your own Lego wall. I looked very closely at Diana Rendina’s plans and considered building my own.

Our Lego wall pieces are here! #makerspace #librariesofinstagram #steam #lego

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Then, I saw a post from Shannon Miller about a company called Brik. This company has Lego-compatible plates that have a reusable adhesive on the back so that you can move it from one location to another if needed. You could order packs of 6 plates which came with an assortment of briks as well. This was appealing to me because of how much time it would save me in constructing a wall. I wouldn’t need to mount plywood to the wall or worry with liquid nails.

Lego wall beginnings #lego #makerspace #steam #librariesofinstagram

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Sherry Gick shared her own experience with Brik and said the adhesive seemed to be pretty reliable. I decided to give it a go.  Before ordering, I posted a Twitter poll and also sent a Google form to my students to ask what color wall they preferred: white, black, or blue.  The response was overwhelmingly blue.

Shipping was super fast, and within about an hour I had everything unboxed and on the wall.  I used Lego pieces to make sure the plates lined up and stayed together. I also made sure to firmly press each plate so that it secured to the wall.  I don’t really plan on moving the plates very much, so I would rather know they are staying on the wall.

Welcome our new lego wall! #barrowbuddies #librariesofinstagram #makerspace #steam

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After posting some pictures on social media, I started getting messages from families whose children were already excited about the wall. During open house, several students stopped by to check out the wall.

I’m sure we’ll learn a lot about how to best use the space and what rules need to be in place, but we are so excited to have this new space in our library for imagination, creativity, collaboration, and sharing.

Kindergarten Makerspace Exploration

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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.

Kazoo parade #librariesofinstagram #steam #makerspace #ccsdmaker

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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.

Preparing for more kindergarten stop motion. #librariesofinstagram #lego #stopmotion #ccsdmaker

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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.

Seeing what kindergarteners put together out of a big box of random Legos was awesome. #librariesofinstagram #lego #kindergarten

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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.

This is what 12 kindergarten students doing stop motion looks like. So peaceful. #librariesofinstagram #lego #stopmotion #ccsdmaker

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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.

Kindergarten stop motion in progress. #librariesofinstagram #lego #stopmotion

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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.

Maker Maniacs Enrichment Cluster Update: 3D Printing and Robotics

blokify (5)We are a little over halfway done with our enrichment clusters this year.  Every Friday, students across the school go to an interest-based cluster of their choosing for one hour.  During this time, students explore a topic and develop products or services related to their topic.  My cluster is called Makerspace Maniacs.  So far this year, we have explored making with duct tape, building with cardboard, lego robotics, and 3D printing.  After lots of explorations, students  are making decisions about where they want to focus.

A small group of students is focused on lego robotics.  Monica and Omarion are both committed to building a robot and programming it.  They both have varying levels of expertise.  Today, I asked another student, Ludwig, to come and work with them.  Ludwig has a lot of experience with Lego Mindstorms.  During clusters today, he worked with them to build a robot and program it.  Although they didn’t get far with the programming, he was able to show the students some tips and tricks to get the robots to work the way they wanted to.  I love using students as experts.  They hold so much knowledge that we don’t even know about.  Ludwig just happened to talk to me one day about Lego Mindstorms because he knew that I bought some.  He used Lego WeDo and Lego Mindstorms in other settings and told me he was willing to help me any way he could with them.  How exciting that a student offered his expertise without even being asked!

Other students in the cluster have decided to work on 3D printing.  Over the past 2 weeks, they have used a new iPad app called Blokify.  This app uses blocks to build a 3D object.  It is very user-friendly to build a 3D object in very little time.  Once built, the object can be ordered or emailed for 3D printing on your own device.  Today, students really focused on coming up with an idea and using the blocks to build.  While they were using the app, I started a Google Doc, which I will share with them, to collect what we love, wonder, and want to change about the app.  One service they will offer as a part of the cluster is to share this info with Blokify.

 

Today, we were also tweeting with Blokify and students were able to respond to their tweets.  Such fun!

Twitter   blokify   plemmonsa What they like most ...

Students prepared several files that they emailed to me.  I have them ready to go for 3D printing next week.  We’ll be printing a pirate ship, a Trojan pig, and a castle among other things.  As we progress, these students will also think about how they see this app fitting into what they are already doing in class.  We’ll come up with some lesson ideas for teachers to consider.

We only have a few weeks to go, but our speed is picking up and our focus is narrowed.  I know incredible things are going to happen with these students.

Makerspace Maniacs Enrichment Cluster

first robots (10)For about 4 weeks, a group of 2nd-5th graders have been meeting with me on Fridays from 8:15-9:15AM.  This time is called enrichment clusters at our school which basically means that kids select a group based on their interest and spend a period of time learning and creating around that topic.  Our cluster is called Makerspace Maniacs.  Our first sessions have been about exploring the world of making.

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So far we have:

  • Watched Caine’s Arcade and explored the idea of making interactive creations with cardboard.

  • Watched Sylvia Super Awesome Maker Show and explored how we can take our creations and create instructional videos about them.

  • Watched Landfill Harmonic and explored how makers take other people’s trash or unwanted items and turn them into functional creations.

  • Watched how a 3D printer works and imagined what we would create on it.

  • Tinkered with Lego robotics and programming.
  • Explored making things out of duct tape.

Now, students are beginning to think about what they are interested in spending more time with.  Right now, we have a lot of interest in robotics.  Today, one student spent time exploring the directions to build a mindstorm NXT robot and began the building process.  Another group of students looked at the Lego WeDo kit and followed instructions to build an alligator.  Other students spent time, exploring how the various lego pieces fit together.  Since their interests are so drawn to robotics, Christa Deissler from UGA will be helping me coordinate a guest speaker to talk to students and demonstrate programming of robots.

first robots (9)Seeing something tangible really inspires the students.  Today a student figured out how to use the WeDo software to make the alligator open and close its mouth.  When students saw this happen, they immediately wanted their creations to do something too.  Once we get past the exploration stage, I think students are going to want to get into the workings of the programming software and figure things out.

In other news, our Donors Choose project to get a 3D printer is fully funded!  This will give these students access to even more tools for making.  Two other classes already have ideas for how the printer might be used in their own projects.  Once it’s here, I’m sure that there will be lots of exploring, learning, and sharing between classes to figure out how this tool can support the learning in classrooms.

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