MakerSpace and Tinkering Lab

Our school MakerSpace and Tinkering Lab (MSTL) was put together with items we found in our homes, classrooms and around the school. We made circuits using a few inexpensively purchased materials, found a great deal on eBay on Snap Circuits (A retiring teacher was selling 4 kits for a song!), added Lincoln Logs we had in our homes, and an assortment of art supplies, some traditional and many not traditional. Anything we had that we weren’t sure what to do with, we put in the MakerSpace. Our cabinets were found in the school and we happily found a use for them.
The second graders love exploring in the MSTL and below they share what they chose to explore.

Making Slushies!

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One thing we have plenty of right now in Michigan is SNOW! We have tons of clean, white, cold, fluffy snow. The kids love to play in it, build forts, and throw it on the slide to help them slide faster. This week we decided to use what nature gave us to make some yummy juice slushies. First the students poured juice into a small zipper top bag, and sealed it closed. In a larger zipper top bag they scooped snow (about two or three cups) and then added a tablespoon or two of rock salt. The sealed juice bag was placed inside the large bag, and the large bag was zipped close. The students then squished and squeezed the snowy mixture around the juice bag. They discovered that the bag got pretty cold, use of mittens was encouraged. After a few minutes, the students began to see and feel the changes. The juice began to turn into slush. When at their preferred slushie consistency, they discarded the outer bag, and using a straw and spoon, enjoyed the delicious slushie.

To learn more about the science behind making slushies or ice cream using, watch this Discovery Education Video Clip on Making Ice Cream. You can find a recipe for homemade ice cream here, and a recipe for Slushies here.

States of Matter – Making SLIME

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2nd graders have been exploring the states of matter. They used Elmer’s white glue, water, Borax, and food coloring to create Slime, which is a Polymer. The Slime is unique in that it behaves like a solid and a liquid. You can pick it up and hold it in your hand like a solid, but is also acts like a liquid by taking the shape of its containers. The kids had a great time adding the ingredients and watching the liquid glue clump up into a big glob of slime! They played with it, stretching it, breaking it, rolling it and putting it all back into a big glob. To learn more about the properties of Slime check out this Discovery Education video clip on Polymers . You can find the recipe for SLIME on Steve Spangler’s or Science Bob’s websites.

Scratch Animations

Students in all grades enjoy creating animations with Scratch. Scratch uses the Blocky, drag and drop system of programming. Kids figure it out quickly and then the creating begins. They can create interactive cards, games, animations and more. Scratch has many step by step tutorials to get students started. Scratch also has library of projects created by students. This is a great place for students to learn from each other.

What’s in the Box?


Inspired by DEN STAR Kim Miller, I checked out STEMbites on Youtube. I was excited to find these short, informative STEM videos. We are learning about shapes and the STEMbites: Shapes and Their Attributes was the perfect fit.

After watching the video I passed out 6 index cards and a length of masking tape to each child. I asked them to create their own box, or rectangular prism as it is called. I played the video a few more times while they worked. Many of the children decided to decorate the index cards before putting their box together. The children were given one index card cut the size of one square end and most had no trouble cutting the second one and putting the box together. The part that surprised me was as soon as the children made the box, they began to talk about what they were going to put in the box. I hadn’t thought of this, but what a creative extension to the lesson! A few students went one step further and added latches or locks to their boxes. These were created with the leftover index card pieces and tape.

This information is also posted on the Class Create Website.

Scribbling Machines!

What do you get when you combine tape, markers, a battery, rubber bands, a motor, a container, 2nd graders and imagination? You get some very fun, kinda crazy scribbling machines. We had a great time in our new School Maker Space putting these together and testing them. We look forward to repeating this activity over and over again! Take a look at our first attempt.

Pinkie’s Challenge




The second graders’ next creative assignment came from a local Ice Cream Shop. Pinkie’s is newly opened (and owned by friends of mine!) Our city is in the middle of an amazing celebration of art called Art Prize. Pinkie’s issued their own art challenge to the children of the area. They were given three items, a pink paper, bubble wrap (always fun!) and pink ribbons. They could make whatever they wanted as long as they included those three items. The art is now on display at Pinkie’s and is being voted on by customers. The winner will receive an ice cream party for 10 friends (and I hope 1 teacher!) The kids did an amazing job with their creations and they are shared in the Animoto video below.

Art Prize

2nd Graders visited Art Prize in Downtown Grand Rapids and then created their own Art. Enjoy the 2nd grade creations along side some of our favorites from Art Prize.

What’s in the Bag?

Embracing the Maker Movement and encouraging Creativity, I have created a Website, to share projects and other ideas. Our first idea, “What’s in the Bag?” gave students a brown bag with an assortment of items. They were tasked with creating something with the items in the bag (and the bag could be used as well) and three additional items from home. They were to bring the creation back to school to share with the class. The creations were amazing and all very different. I was thrilled and amazed with what the children came up with. I can’t wait to try this again!

This was cross posted on

DENSI2014 – Reflections

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Wow! I am still recovering mentally and physically from DENSI2104. Lack of sleep and too many great ideas swimming in my head to sleep, as well as thinking I could run the DENmazing Race have taken their toll. So much to process and I feel a bit ADD in trying. I have an idea, I get work on it, I check Facebook, I comment, I get up and get a snack, I check my email, which leads me to Twitter, where there is a link I must check out, I go back to the first idea, SQUIRREL! and then well I am back at the beginning. I have also realized I should not attempt to cook and check Facebook and Twitter the first few days after DENSI2104. Good thing I put the battery back in the smoke detector.

My first take away from this DENSI was the people. I really feel as though I talked to just about everyone. I met so many new people and I am friending them like crazy on Facebook and following on Twitter. I loved all the Newbies that I met and got to know many of the veterans even better. I can’t wait to set up Mystery Skypes during the first month of school with as many as I can.  I have invited everyone to apply to present at MACUL our Michigan Ed. Tech Conference mainly because I will get to see them again! (Proposals are being accepted now – ) Dean Shareski’s Name that Tune, Heads Up!, The Maker Faire, and the UnConference added to the fun by giving us more opportunities to interact informally. Thank goodness for social media so I can keep in touch and continue the learning, sharing, and fun with all of these amazing educators!

The learning that takes place at DENSI is immense and deep and hard to pin point. I have many blogs to read, links to check out (thank you Chad Lehman for collecting the links) and ideas to flesh out. I loved MaryAnn Sansonetti-Wood’s “I Must-ache you a question” and will be getting my mustaches together for this school year. I learned how to make Lip Balm with my students (Patti Grammens) as well as Light up Ping Pong Balls (Karie Huttner) and how to use Shaving Cream and food coloring to make cool paper designs (Patti Duncan.) I Got to play with Sphero ( I want one!)  The Keynotes were awesome as well and I love that they were Live Streamed so I can go back and catch the ones I missed. I loved learning from Lodge McCammon and I WILL flip my classroom and my staff training this year. I am planning my first staff training using some of the videos from DENSI2014 and Ka-Hoot (thanks Kelly Hines.) Loved hearing from Adam Bellow (and playing Heads Up with him in the lounge!) and of course Steve Dembo. The Kathy Schrock and I sang Brady Bunch tunes on the way to dinner in addition to talking tech.  Jannita is an inspiration and I need to keep using those S.O.S. strategies as well as check out the DEN Ambassador program. Everyone was awesome, amazing, inspiring, including _________ (insert YOUR name in the blank.)

I appreciate so much being able to attend DENSI2104. I was on the wait list and got the call about a month before DENSI2014 was to start. It came at the perfect time and everything fell right into place. I was able to hitch a ride with the very fun Sara and Jeremy Badiner, and even better was able to learn from them on the way to and from Nashville. I wish I could be at every future DENSI, and I will not stop applying, but I also know that this amazing week MUST be experienced by as many educators as possible. DENSI is changing the way we teach and sending us back to our schools with new ideas, new enthusiasms, new friends and renewed energy.

Thank you Porter Palmer, Lance and Martha Rougeux and all those who are part of Discovery Education and DENSI. Your work is so very much appreciated and I am thankful for the opportunities that I have been given because of of y’all!

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