Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Imaginary Friends & Imaginary Worlds

Dan Santat's Caldecott winning picture book whimsically begins "He was born on an island far away where imaginary friends were created. Here, they lived and played, each eagerly waiting to be imagined by a real child." 

But Beekle struggles in the real world to find that friend who might imagine him... so the Bubbler has decided to step in and help. Using Beekle as our inspiration, Maker Corps has teamed up with MSCR sites at Sennett and Muir to get those imaginations going! And the results have been something magical.

And we have discovered the incredible allure of neon and glitter crayons, the importance of lots of multicolored feathers, and just how much is possible with construction paper and google eyes when paired with imaginations

However, it isn't just Beekle's adorable appearance that makes him so irresistible. It's his adorable personality and sense of adventure, as well as the colorful place where he lives. So this time, we included opportunities and space for our Bubblerteers to give their creatures names, tell us about where they lived, and what made them so special. 

Like through acting. Where at Allied Dr. Learning Center we BECAME monsters to put ourselves in their terrifying shoes. 

Or turned them into pop-up books to give them their own voices and making them talk! 

At at Sennett where we drew our creature's natural habitat and what made them so ferocious! Like creatures who live in lava (they need orange wings to fly over the top!). Or friends named Jelly Bean to live in Weird Forests. And Abstract monsters that turn to squiggles on the page... and blue cats who primarily reside on blue couches. 

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Making & Learning with the Bubbler

One Bubblerteer with her movie watching pavilion. The
popcorn (packing peanuts) are attached to the top so you
don't have to even walk to the snack bar! 

At the Bubbler, we often get asked "what role does making have in the library?" Let's be truthful here... we get asked this by a lot of grown ups. For our youngest Bubblerteers, "making" is enthusiastically embraced in the library without question. The library to them is already a magical place of exploration, learning, and fun thanks to their experiences with storytimes, play literacy games in the children's section, and arts based programming. 

Bubblerteer posing with his
"Super Travel Camper" 
In the same ways that storytimes and CRAFTernoons support early literacy in developing narrative and storytelling skills, fine motor skills, and imaginative thinking, maker based programs push small minds to grow. Especially the open ended activities designed by our Maker Corps team.

This week at Pinney, we explored creative problem solving and imaginative design (and had a TON of fun) with the Bubbler's Mystery Boxes. these little red tool boxes are filled with myriad of building supplies from purchased plastic wheels and cardboard saws, to all the extra stuff we found floating around the library like packing peanuts, drinking straws, shipping foam, and cable wrap tubing (great robot arm material!) We initially included prompts for ideas of what kiddos could create with their boxes, but quickly learned that inspiration usually comes directly from the materials themselves and what the kids imagine.

And doesn't take long for that imagination to spark! Our Makers at Pinney dove right in and after lots of scrunched eye brows and tongues thoughtfully hanging out of mouths, creating horse drawn carriages, high capacity mini vans, a travel camper, sail boats and more.

The "Six Wheeler" is a great example of creative problem solving.
Having enough room for all the seats, the middle of the car sagged so two more wheels were added.
We also learned that having only 1 screw in the front connecting the wheels
allowed them to swivel for actual steering!
What we're noticing is that our Bubblerteers are so excited about their projects, talking about them and creating stories comes naturally a lot of them, showing us awesome moments of reflection and discussion of design choices. But for some kiddos, this conversation needs a little nudge.  So we're starting to get a little sneaky in Maker Corps...

We're arming ourselves with some questions to push our Bubblerteers to reflect on their creations and design choices. Not that our inventors would suspect we are encouraging "development of narrative skills" or "justifying choices in the making process" or other boring learning stuff when we're just asking:

  • "What's your creation's name?" 
  • "What does it do?" 
  • "What makes your invention so awesome?"
  • "What would you do to make it even awesomer?"  
But the results are showing just how much their minds are working in this creative process. Those sneaky Bubblerarians!! Making me use my brain. Don't they know it's summer time! Here's one response to "What makes your invention so awesome?" 

Top "The Sew Bot" with a library card memory chip and built in needle and thread. Middle: A "Unsinkable Sailboat" with flotation peanuts attached to the sail so it will float! Bottom: "The Falling Down Garage" that specializes in fixing things (but not itself...) notice the extra wheels and screws for repairs.