Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Light-up Dioramas

Thanks to jury duty this week, I had plenty of time to make example projects for my next maker class: light-up dioramas.

Yes, I know it looks like my dog drew it.

I start out with a back-of-a-cocktail-napkin type sketch.  My sketches are always truly awful but functional, at least in my head. So I power through and hope for better things.

I just wanted to think about a scene with a foreground, middleground, and background before doing any "real" drawing.
Then I started drawing out all my elements separately on card stock.

Next I colored everything with colored pencils, cut out my components, and layered them in my scene.

I used thicker cardboard to separate my scene layers from one another. I moved things around a bit and added to my composition when I felt like something was missing

I then hid a coin cell battery taped to one leg of an orange LED behind the castle.

I use a tiny bit of electrical tape on the side of the battery so the second leg doesn't easily touch it.

If you press on the right spot, you'll make the second LED leg connect to the battery, which completes the circuit and lights the diorama. Instant sunset.

My second example is a room in a submarine or some sort of ship.It includes a light fixture that lights up in the same manner.

Both projects have a few little hidden critters, "Easter Eggs" for my students to find. The love adding little secret things to their projects.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Cardboard Interior Spaces

I am currently teaching an 8 week maker class to third and fourth graders. For yesterday's assignment, I had my students create cardboard interior spaces.
I wanted my students to think about what 2D and 3D geometry made up objects in the real world (this trash can is a cylinder, this donut is a torus, etc.)

I collected more than 40 shoe boxes for this assignment. We built interior architecture and objects with the box lids and more recycled cardboard, paper, card stock, glue, tape, and twine. Pretty much anything we could get our hands on.

Environments can tell a story and I wanted my students to think about that too. As my example project, I made a two story space, the bottom floor is a private detective's office. The top floor is his apartment.

The detective is tracking an evil mustached mouse that stole cheese and a bag of money.
 I tried to add as many 2D and 3D shapes as possible and encouraged my students to do the same. This old rotary phone cord is a helix, the trash can a cylinder, the pizza slice a triangle, etc.

I tried to add a lot of detail to some areas, to inspire students to do the same.
The detective's sparse and juvenile bedroom.
The students really liked the weird magazines and the Pusheen mug. My students and I talked about Easter Eggs, "hidden" details that are funny or inside jokes. Many of my students hid Easter Eggs in their interiors too.
I could make these all day.
I'm always nervous before I try out a new project, but this turned out to be a huge hit. I have two classes that are 2.5 hours long each, with 17 students per class. Everyone seemed engaged and excited the entire time. I had students build ice rinks, movie theaters, ancient Greek ruins, and sushi bars. They built interior architecture like staircases and elevators.

My classroom was joyous chaos (what a mess!) and I couldn't be happier about the outcome.

Now I have to top it next week...

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Articulate Paper People

I saw articulate paper people somewhere and I was intrigued. I mean, they are kind of creepy but it's also way for kids to understand pivot points and joints.
Where are the upper arms? Oops

Also, building and playing with them makes kids think about how things move, and how they shouldn't move.

I used card stock, sketched my figure out in pencil, and then pen.

I added color with colored pencils.

Only then did I cut out all the parts.

Then I used a small hole punch-- next time I might just poke the card stock with a needle tool or another sharp object, it would be easier to see what I was doing.

Small brads were used to attach all the limbs, and that's it! Articulate paper person.

My son immediately took this and started posing it-- waving, sitting cross-legged, etc.

I might have my students make one of these, and then tell them to make something that isn't a human-- make a dragon, think about the joints of the tail, etc. Or a robot, or some sort of machinery with moving parts.

I think these would be good for making stop motion animated movies, or just glue a magnet on the back of a torso and stick them on a fridge. It's a good, cheap, low-mess, rainy-day project.