There is no doubt that the ladies of 1M are a creative, inventive bunch. There are few things more popular during free choice times than the classroom Maker Spot. AKA – “Beautiful Junk.” What is created in this area is often impressive. One of our first engineers was Josie who crafted a stylish but sturdy carrier for a beloved toy. The girls often work deliberately, searching for the tidbits they need for a particular project. Other times, they rustle through the baskets waiting for a spark of inspiration. As an early childhood teacher, I have always had a “beautiful junk” space in the classroom. It is the magical work of young children to create with what is around them and to see infinite possibilities in paper, tape and string. We were thoughtful in creating a space for this type of work when a team that I was a part of designed the LS Physics and Engineering Lab. The LS has been expanding this vision in our “Maker Space” room. It is a space that is inspired by what we early childhood educators have known for decades coupled with the thriving Maker Movement. Hear more about the global movement below.
When girls build structures and sculptures from beautiful junk they are often met with a series of challenges. Things collapse, don’t stick, won’t fit together as proposed. One of our engineers recently rushed to me proud with a structure but upon lifting it from the table the insides of her structure tipped over the edge and fell to the floor. She was visibly upset. I encouraged her to go inspect her structure and see what she could do so that wouldn’t happen again. After some very intentional adjustments she brought her structure to me again. “Look!” she called while confidently turning her structure upside down. When I asked her how she could turn her structure upside down without worrying she told me, ”Well, I made it stronger. I made it more secure with different tape. I added this (a bottle cap) so the big part wouldn’t wiggle. That’s stable isn’t it?” I definitely agreed and marveled at the language she had absorbed from our conversations in the block area and Physics Lab. Each of your daughters has had a similar but unique experience while building with the found materials or blocks.
For those of you who haven’t discovered our class Maker Spot, it currently lives in the rear of the classroom. We welcome help keeping it stocked with fun, interesting items – paper towel rolls, packaging, tops from laundry soap, stationary, unused Dixie cups, cotton from medicine bottles, stickers, beads from broken necklaces, sparkly gift boxes, pieces of wrapping paper, fabric, ribbon and the like are always in demand. “So,” you may be wondering, “What do I do with the results of all of this fabulous creativity, persistence, and independence?” I will give you seasoned teacher and mother Kristin Trueblood’s well-tested parenting secret regarding junk sculptures. As her two daughters brought item upon item home in lower school she would admire them and leave them on the kitchen table for a few days. Then she would move them to the top of the washing machine. If no one mentioned the out of sight structure again, into the trashcan/recycling bin it slipped. As with the majority of the early learning curriculum, the point is the learning process that comes with creating rather than the object itself.
Speaking of process and creating, it is not uncommon for me to eventually spot a few girls stockpiling items from the MakerSpot in their backpack. The intent is not for them to bring home an untouched waffle box. I’ve spoken to the girls about utilizing the materials in school and bringing home their finished sculpture, project or invention to share with you so feel free to follow up if you find any materials coming home untouched. I can’t wait to see what they come up with next!! They are well on their way to being as innovative as the girls in the below commercial. We love watching this in 1M!!!