Outdoor Maker Space: No Purchase Necessary, Assembly Required :)

Note: I was double inspired to write this post after a plastic product marketed to students to help them attach sticks together crossed my path. One of the many great questions that emerged during this project was “is it fair game to use non-native materials?” 

My colleagues and I were challenged to create a Project Based Learning experience for students K-4 the last week of school. Since we were low on materials (all the classrooms were already packed up- long story), we decided to spend the week outside, with our guiding question being, “What do we need to live outside for the week?” What emerged was passionate and personal learning while experiencing the out-of-doors in a new way for everyone.

First off, Monday morning, it was raining, so we began with watching some clips of this Forest School video to help us gain some perspective over what was possible. It really helped that the children in the video were waaaaay younger than us. If they could do it, so could we. (There was NOT ONE COMPLAINT- not one!- and we spent three days out in the rain!) 

So then we went about talking about what we needed. What struck me the most was that just about every kid raised her hand and said words like “teamwork!” and “collaboration”! They answered as if it was all settled- we’d go out into the woods and do the collaboration and some teamwork and BAM! we’d have food to eat. It seemed that that was the answer they had deemed correct at some point and so kept repeating it, without really digging into what that actually meant. 

But teamwork to do WHAT?” I kept pressing. Finally some realists piped up, “shelters!, food!, fire!, the rules- the rules of what we should do!” Ok, now we were getting somewhere.

After brainstorming and discussing it a bit more, we decided to divide ourselves into five groups:

Finally, we were ready! Out in the rain we went. Each group quickly got to work. The teachers texted each other throughout the experience, sharing photographs and videos with each other, while helping to guide the students and focus their thinking and questions.

poisonivy mushroomfood:medical pouch form:function whatneed

Of course we needed to build a bridge right next to the bridge :)
Of course we needed to build a bridge right next to the bridge 🙂
Finally a solid start on the second shelter
Finally a solid start on the second shelter
Of course we needed a sink
and we needed a sink!
We have a ton of witch hazel in our forest! A plant expert came in to help us identify plants.
Apparently, we have a ton of witch hazel in our forest! A plant expert came in to help us identify plants.
Several serious attempts were made at making fire. This one involved adding potato chips as fuel . Even when the teacher finally brought over a lighter, the children STILL really didn't quite figure out that it wouldn't light bc the wood was wet.
Several serious attempts were made at making fire. This one involved adding potato chips as fuel . Even after a teacher finally brought over a lighter, the children STILL really didn’t quite figure out that it wouldn’t light bc the wood was damp….
found shirt being dried and used for future bandages. Also, rocks work great as pencils.
found shirt being dried and used for future bandages. Also, rocks work great as pencils.
Though it was never explicitly discussed, the
Though it was never explicitly discussed, the “culture” quickly emerged that only natural materials could be used except those that were “found”…

Our final presentation of the project was giving a self-guided tour of the centers- the majority of the kids were still seriously focused on perfecting their projects. While some did put on the “Presentation Polish”, most were so busy STILL ENGAGED with the work, they barely noticed the tours!

Outdoor MakerSpace from Heidi Echternacht on Vimeo.

We added a natural twine to the mix on the second day as it really extended the possibilities of invention
We added a natural twine to the mix on the second day as it really extended the possibilities of invention
heavy exploration into the possibilities with mud as an adhesive. She is trying to build a chair...
heavy exploration into the possibilities with mud as an adhesive. She is still working to build a chair while students ask her questions during the presentation phase.
Presentation feedback and discussion on what was working/not here in this design for a chair :)
Presentation feedback and discussion on what was working/not here in this design for a chair 🙂
The Explorers group presented this beautiful map detailing the project areas and school grounds
The Explorers group presented this beautiful map detailing the project areas and school grounds

We had a fabulous week together and each student and teacher really LEARNED and LOVED something new while working together in new ways- it was a blast!

Teachers on this project:

  • Dominique DiMeglio and Susan Beshel (Food and Medicine)
  • Elena Nickerson and Gaby Vovsi (Toolmaking)
  • Stacy Cramer and Judy Shakespeare (Explorers)
  • BA Cagney and Muriel Adams (Safety and Peacemaking)
  • Carolyn Brougham and Heidi Echternacht (Shelters)
Advertisements

Author: hechternacht

website here: https://sites.google.com/site/heidiechternacht/

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s