– Exploration, Expression, Exposition

For Makers, Tinkerers, Hackers and Creators

Today, D. stayed at home, so I asked him to choose from our Home Days Task list to do a project and he chose this:   Working on three challenges towards a Badge from If you haven’t been there yet you should. It’s captured D’s attention on and off over the last couple of years.  Definitely a good place to go to look for project ideas.  A neat platform for celebrating Do It Yourself and Maker culture, and a fun social site to safely present your work and interact with other kids / youth presenting theirs.  I like it.  It’s easy to navigate, and has a wonderful design and ad free look.

D. chose Special Effects Wizard, and happily got to work.  Look what he did!

Cobra Weave, Paracord Bracelet


“the Very Particular Thing”, Hand Puppet, Sepcial Effects Wizard


Roman Bloodstone Dagger, Special Effects Wizard


Rocky Path, Faux Surface, Special Effects Wizard


I love the range of expression here.  D. is definitely content when making.  Not so much presenting or writing though.  I’d hoped he’d be as enthusiastic reporting on his process and writing about why he’d chosen these projects, how his making had gone and how he felt about his end products.  To his credit, he did for the first time take the pictures, upload them onto the computer and then onto by himself. See them here:

He was pleasantly surprised by the few likes he got right away, and the ‘social’ interaction / attention.  Then as if his wonderful artwork // craft spoke for itself, he brushed off my urging to write / talk about his projects and was quickly off to something else.  🙂

As usual D. is not in love with school, but I have seen him charged up and enlivened a couple of times.  His class has recently learned about geometry, solids, and mechanics of form building, and the had to do a group challenge on building with rolled up newspaper and duct tape.  I was reminded as always how much actually DOING things, MAKING things, WORKING on tangible problems and projects can be so wonderful for many students, especially my lad, D.  I have been thinking a lot about Tinkering schools, Maker Labs and Reggio Emilia and how secretly in my heart I want to open a centre / school for such work….what happens when the space, time and resources are layer out in front of a child, and s/he is allowed to fool around?  What happens if we say, “make a mess”, “break stuff”, “make mistakes”, “experiment”, “play”? “What the world needs now is reckless curiosity”.

If you watch Gever Tulley’s video, you will see that the school he and his friend came up with that would take students through an exploration, expression and then exposition phase is similar in many ways to what the Reggio schools are doing……hhmmm….my mind is alive with possibilities.


Little House on the Co-Op Day One

Rain Bow Loom:  The Power of Hand Work

Hi everyone,

I apologize for not posting more often.  As many of you know the strike is now over, and regular school will resume on Monday.  While I am happy that teachers and students can get back to business and parents need no longer worry, a part of me is sad to say good-bye to my Strike Days’ adventures in home learning.   From now on it’ll just be weekend and sick days adventures in home learning….;)

Still, I have lots of posts waiting to be published.   I haven’t been here blogging in part because I was busy hanging with a small group of kids over at Little House on the Co-Op.  It was so much fun, the closest so far to my fantasy of home schooling with a small group of kids!   H, one of the oldest said it best: “Belinda, I love doing this, it’s almost like school but even better.  You’re teaching us stuff all the time, there are so many activities to do, but we don’t have to do them if we don’t want to!”

Well, day one started with an intense Rainbow Loom skills trade:

10363428_10152259799135957_5175766923634982965_o 10623533_10152259798905957_6891129082678026448_o 10628843_10152259798910957_9010802042200431544_o 1266395_10152259798900957_512686691278133501_o

I knew Rainbow Loom would be a great thing to start with as it’s something most kids have in common these days.   Everyone has something to teach, everyone has something to learn.  it’s hands on and suits many learning styles.  I was right.  The kids spent a good two hours working, creating gifts, comparing projects, peer-teaching and negotiating use of the computer, as well as peer-teaching computer skills.

For those who are new to the idea of children learning at home, or even project-based learning at school, this is a fantastic example of the many lessons of socialization: listening, patience, turn-taking, honouring each other’s process, wrangling hands-off and hands-on learning, trading knowledge, observing reasons for making / doing / creating.  Some make to give, others make to teach, others make because they just can’t help fiddling.

This brings me to my most important point: Children who often have a hard time sitting still and focussing on detailed work benefit enormously from Rainbow Loom or other finger work such as knitting, whittling, carving, weaving, beading, lego, rubiks’ cube and so on, where learners / makers sit for extended periods of time using only their hands and eyes.  In traditional school settings most of this kind of work is writing, drawing, math.  There is little art, crafts or making.  Now of course we have typing and gaming as well on computers.

What are the advantages to this kind of focused hand work or fine-motor skills?  How does this work fit in with the value of using manipulatives?  Moving objects in space, using your hands, your tactile sense to make sense of concepts that would otherwise perhaps be too abstract?

Stay tuned for more on this discussion..and absolutely feel free to join in – I’d love to hear your comments.