Several of my library classes participated in the annual Hour of Code using Scratch, one of my favorite coding programs.
Why do I like it so much?
- Detailed step-by-step tutorials for introductory projects
- Color coded instructions and tools that make it easy for students to click on the right thing
- Flexible project ideas that give students some freedom for self-expression within the boundaries of a structured activity
- Printable activity cards so students can explore Scratch independently
- An online community for educators
It’s always interesting to see which students will cautiously follow the instructions to the letter, and which kids will use the tutorial as merely a suggestion of what can be done. I also enjoy watching them turn to one another asking “How did you do that?!?” Sometimes the most unlikely students become Scratch Masters, and it’s gratifying to watch them shine as they assist others.
If you haven’t tried Scratch yourself, it’s easy to get started with it. And I think it’s important to realize that you don’t have to know everything about Scratch to use it with your students. Over the past week I’ve learned several new things about Scratch by watching the kids experimenting with it, and I’m quick to admit “Hey, I didn’t know you could do that!” That’s how we model learning for our students, right?
If you are using Scratch already, I’d love to hear about your experience. Please leave a comment, or tweet me @LibraryLoriJune
I fell in love with Chico Bon Bon the minute I met him. He’s an extremely resourceful Monkey With a Tool Belt who loves to build and fix things. He’s generous with his time and skills, he helps his friends with all kinds of problems, and he’s able to think outside the box. (Literally! An organ grinder traps him in one and he has to plan his escape.)
You might say he’s been part of the maker movement since 2008, before it was a buzzword in libraries and education. So what better book to get kids thinking about their “maker” interests?
This week I’m reading the book aloud to third graders and asking them to think about what they like making and doing, and what specific tools or supplies they need to pursue their interests. They have a choice of listing those items with a small drawing of each one, drawing themselves wearing their “maker” tool belt, or some combination of the two. Here are some examples:
This will lead right into a discussion of our makerspaces and the supplies that will be available for the kids. It also gave me some great insight into the hobbies and interests of my students. As they were writing and drawing, I was pulling books on art, fashion, sports, cooking, etc to show them during check-out time.
Don’t miss Monkey With a Tool Belt by Chris Monroe, or the two sequels! Click on a book cover to look inside.
One of my goals this year is to incorporate more STEAM activities into my library program, and with that in mind I’m instituting a series of LEGO Challenges for my students.
I began very simply with my 3rd and 4th graders; their first Challenge was to Build a Duck.
We went over some basic rules (click for a copy of my Duck Lego Challenge instructions) and then I gave each student a mini LEGO building kit that I put together using six to nine red, yellow, orange, and white standard bricks. I made sure no two kits were identical so that copying someone else’s design would be impossible, and I stressed that the goal was to be original.
Most students dove right in, while others were a bit hesitant. I think some had less experience using LEGOs, but a few were not sure what the “right” way to build a duck was.
As I circled the room offering praise for their creativity, I could see their initial noisy excitement fading to deep concentration as they experimented with different designs.
Students only needed a few minutes to complete their projects, which gave us plenty of time for Show & Share using the document camera and the promethean board.
I put blue paper under the document camera to serve as the duck pond, and students showed off their creations and explained how they built their ducks and why they used their bricks the way they did.
Allowing students to start small gave them an opportunity to build their confidence as well as their ducks, thus paving the way for more complicated projects later. Who says learning can’t be fun?!?
Eventually I’ll be including LEGO Challenges as one of my makerspace stations. Are you using LEGO Challenges in your library or classroom? Please leave a comment or tweet me @LibraryLoriJune and share what you’re doing!