Category Archives: Art

Creative Ways to Survive the Weeks Before Winter Break

Full disclosure: this first week of December is going to be my busiest week this year. Therefore, I decided to cheat a bit for a few days and recycle some posts from last year.  I’ve done a bit of editing to make sure they remain current but otherwise they are the same.  Hopefully you still find them useful!

Screen Shot 2013-12-15 at 5.45.47 PM
Screen Shot from Kelly Wine’s Rube Goldberg-esque Holiday Machine Video

Let’s face it.  This month is hard.  No one – including you – is feeling very focused on academics right now.  To save everyone’s sanity, and to put smiles on all of the faces in the room, try some of these creative ideas:

Here are a couple I have mentioned before, but it doesn’t hurt to repeat.

#WhatWillYouCreate?

For today’s entry into this year’s Gifts for the Gifted series (every Friday in November and December) I am recommending the 3Doodler.  This 3D printing pen has come a long way since I first received the Kickstarter version around a year ago.

gifts

If you know a child who loves to create, then this could be a fabulous gift.  At $99 you can currently get a great deal – the pen plus 50 strands of plastic.  Although $99 may sound like a lot, it is significantly cheaper than a 3D Printer.  Also, a computer is not required in order to start making your designs.

image from http://www.jebiga.com/3doodler-3d-doodler/
image from http://www.jebiga.com/3doodler-3d-doodler/

The 3Doodler works somewhat like a glue gun.  You stick the plastic in one end, and it heats up.  As you squeeze the button, the melted plastic comes out and you can direct it into the shape you like.  The plastic cools relatively quickly, but I wouldn’t recommend touching it with bare fingers for about 30 seconds.

Because of the heat involved, the 3Doodler is not suitable for young children.  I had students as young as 9 using it in my classroom last year with supervision, but would not suggest it for anyone younger. My daughter, who was 11 when we received it, used it with dexterity, but we both accidentally touched the hot part a couple of times. Using it also requires some perseverance and self-control that come with maturity, as it takes some practice to develop the techniques that will allow you to form the designs you imagine.

Since its Kickstarter campaign, 3Doodler has added a few more accessories, which include a stand, a pedal option that allows you to control the pen with your feet, and a set of different nozzles.  It is also available in many more retail stores.  In addition to purchasing it online, you can find it at Michael’s and Best Buy plus 10 other stores in the United States.

I would suggest that beginners start with some of the stencils provided on the 3Doodler site.  The community offers many ideas, but don’t get too caught up in making what is already posted.  Be creative!

For more ideas for creative gifts for children, you may want to visit my Pinterest Board or check out my previous posts from this year: Osmo, Circuit Stickers, and Shell Game.

Circuit Stickers

For today’s Gifts for the Gifted post, I’m going to rewind all the way back to July of this year.  Back then, I wrote about a product called Circuit Stickers from Chibitronics.  I realize that the word “stickers” might make you grimace.  But don’t stop reading, because these are not your ordinary stickers you can buy in packs of 4 sheets at Walmart. These are stickers that light up – if you arrange them the right way.

gifts

With the Chibitronics Starter pack (which can also sometimes be found on Amazon or Maker Shed), you will get the following:

  • 12 white LED stickers
  • 6 each of red, yellow, and blue LED stickers
  • 1 roll of copper tape (5 meters)
  • 2 CR2032 coin cell batteries
  • 2 small binder clips
  • 1 swatch of conductive plastic
  • 1 swatch of Z-conductive tape
  • 1 copy of the “Circuit Sticker Sketchbook” by Jie Qi, an introductory guide to using circuit stickers.
Chibitronics Starter Kit
Chibitronics Starter Kit

The Sketchbook is very important.  It’s kind of a workbook, and very helpful to non-electricians like my daughter and me.  I’m embarrassed to say that I never made a circuit in my life until I ordered this kit.  The workbook is very good at scaffolding circuitry, and suggesting ideas to build on each little project.

Once you “get” circuits, you can really get creative with the stickers, as the video from Chibitronics will show.  You can design cards and make fun jewelry or other fashion statements.

Speaking of cards, you can buy a holiday greeting card kit from Chibitronics here for $25.  It includes L.E.D. stickers and materials to make 3 cards.

If you have a child that is in to “making,” then you should definitely check out the Circuit Stickers.  For other Maker ideas, check out my Make Pinterest Board.

My Gifts for the Gifted series of posts will appear every Friday in November and December.  Here are links to the first two that I’ve done so far this year: Osmo and Shell Game.  You can see even more gift recommendations on this Pinterest Board.

 

Do You Want to Build a 2-Pocket-Folder-Man?

My 2nd graders have been doing some hard convergent thinking during our last couple of classes, so I thought it was time to practice creative thinking for a little while.  They love doing S.C.A.M.P.E.R. activities, and I like to let them choose from a couple to keep things interesting.  (You can visit this old post for an explanation of S.C.A.M.P.E.R. and some suggested activities.)

Yesterday they could choose between finding a substitution for snow to build a snowman or putting reindeer to another use for the 364 days of the year they aren’t in action.  You can see some of their ideas below. I love that one student actually included a key on hers to explain the different parts!

You can see more holiday S.C.A.M.P.E.R. ideas here.  Also, you can do a search on this blog for ideas for the rest of the year.  Or, you can mosey on over to my TPT store.  I’ve got Autumn S.C.A.M.P.E.R. and S.C.A.M.P.E.R. Through the Seasons – or you can download Superhero S.C.A.M.P.E.R. for free.

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Inspirograph

Technically this should be a Phun Phriday post.  Because it’s seriously, addictively P.H.U.N.  However, my Friday posts in November and December are devoted to my “Gifts for the Gifted” series.  So, we’re going to break the mold and make it a Phun Thursday.  And even though that’s not quite as alliterative, it’s still fun.

I saw this tweet from @shannonmiller this week.

Spirograph TweetOf course, I immediately investigated the link.  I actually have an old Spirograph kit that I bought from E-bay a few years ago and I’ve been debating whether or not it would make a nice center in my classroom. The reason for the debate is the pins involved.  I think I can overcome the pin issue, but for those of you who don’t have a kit or prefer not to deal with pins Inspirograph is a perfect solution.  You can even download the image when you have finished your masterpiece!  Can you imagine trying this out on an interactive whiteboard?!!!

Some people, of course, prefer a more tangible experience.  But what about an edible one? If you head on over to The Kid Should See This, you can see how you can have your Spirograph Pancake and eat it, too

For those of you who might be appalled that I switched Phun Phriday to Phun Thursday, I have a couple of Spirograph math links for you from Dr. Mike’s Math Games and Mathematics Teaching Community.  Ann Pool has a GCF lesson that goes with Spirograph, too. I don’t really understand them, but don’t tell my students.

Here are a couple of masterpieces from the Inspirograph gallery.  Can you tell which one is mine?  (Hint: the less good one!)

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Sketch Notes

Yesterday I picked up my 3rd grade GT students for class, and one of them had a cute little notebook.  When I asked her what it was for, she said that she just likes to take notes and draw things in it.

Funnily enough, I had just participated in a Twitter chat the night before, and we had talked about student engagement.  Note-taking was mentioned, and we discussed how copying down what the teacher has on the board isn’t usually very engaging, but other types of notes can be.  I gave the Vi Hart videos as an example of taking note-taking to another level.

I was curious to see what my 3rd grader would do with her notebook. I don’t find myself saying a lot of “noteworthy” things during class, so I suspected she would do more off-task drawing than anything academic.  However, I didn’t want to discourage another potential Vi Hart!

In our small circle of 6 + me, we discussed systems thinking and the Billibonk and the Thorn Patch book.  The monkeys had just learned that elephants were easy to trick from watching the mice, and we talked about how, as role models, we never know who is observing our behavior.  My student was busily drawing in her book, and I asked if she wanted to share.

systems thinking

She explained that getting away with doing something wrong could cause an endless loop -like a person breaking a window makes other people think it’s okay to break windows, and it keeps happening.

Definitely not off-task.

During our Hands-On-Equations lesson, my student sketched a lot in her book.  She later showed me her drawings – detailed examples of an equation we solved on the whiteboard along with the vocabulary I introduced today, “legal move.”

Photo Oct 28, 12 37 51 PM

Some people call it Sketchnotes.  Others call it mind mapping or visual note-taking.  My 3rd grade student’s notes haven’t reached the sophistication of Vi Hart, Austin Kleon, or other examples you will find online.  But I will have this young artist in my class until the end of 5th grade, and I can’t wait to see what her notes look like by then!

If you are interested in Sketchnoting, Kathy Schrock has an excellent page of links, apps, and video resources to use with students.  I think it would be well worthwhile to show some of the examples to students, and give them the option of visual note-taking in class.

UPDATE: 10/31/14 – I just found this great post on Doodling from Leah Levy that explains why doodling is great for your students and gives even more resources!

from Austin Kleon's Visual Note-Taking Page
from Austin Kleon’s Visual Note-Taking Page

Desire to Fly

This week’s Phun Phriday post comes from an article I read on laughingsquid.com by Rebecca Escamilla.  She wrote about the short video, “Desire to Fly,” which features artist Samantha Bryan as she demonstrates and explains her process for creating fairies and the important machines they need to do their work.  Bryan’s creations are exquisite and delightful, and it’s fascinating to watch as she stitches and solder pieces together to create these one-of-a-kind fairy sculptures.  One of my favorite quotes from the artist is, “Being an inventor in this sense is a little like being a storyteller.” When you look at her work, you can probably imagine all sorts of stories about the fairies and their adventures. Surely a picture book and full-length movie are in these fairies’ future…

from the video, "Desire to Fly," featuring artist Samantha
from the video, “Desire to Fly,” featuring artist Samantha Bryan