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The Gifts of Making


This holiday season, and in particular, holiday shopping has me put me in a reflective whirlwind. I don't particularly enjoy shopping. The crowds, the noise, and the pressure can be a real downer. When I do stretch my shopping legs, I like to do so with creativity and purpose. My teaching interests bubble to the surface as I look for just the right game, toy, or kit for inspiring thinking while providing fun, interactive learning experiences. I can hear the kids in the background, "I just want to play."




What was your favorite toy or game while growing up? Why was it your favorite?

Are some of your favorite toys the same ones that stretched your thinking and creativity? Here are several memorable toys received as Christmas gifts while growing up.



Several of these toys survived years of play and were passed down to my kids. My parents, grandparents, and yes, even Santa Claus understood the value of playing, creating, tinkering, collaborating, and making. Bud, my younger brother, and I got to enjoy makerspace experiences decades before the term became fashionable in education circles. We spent most of our childhood playing outside, but many a rainy afternoon was spent creating and building things in our home-based makerspacesBud is artistic and very handy at fixing and building things. We are both adept at tinkering in the garage, or around the house when the opportunities present themselves. I think our skills and interests are a direct result of the thoughtfulness of our "gifters", namely our parents.



So, as I wait in the checkout line at Hobby Lobby, I've come to the realization the impact playing and making has on our lives. Minecraft, Meccano, and Sphero are vivid illustrations how modern games and toys are very different from what we grew up with, but the engagement, creativity, and collaborative powers are still evident if you know where to look. In this season of giving, consider the learning experiences and long-term value of your generosity. Gifts of making provide enriching experiences that keep giving for years to come.


How can we provide empowering experiences with long-term impact on the learners in our schools?

Related Reading / Viewing


What is a MakerSpace? - 1 minute YouTube video

 Educator as Maker Educator - Dr. Jackie Gerstein, SlideShare

Cool Gifts for the Digital Kid - Knowledge@Wharton

Gifts That Will Stimulate Your Child's Mind - GEMS World Academy, Chicago

Encouraging Neurodiversity in Your MakerSpace or Classroom - Edutopia, Patrick Waters



photo credit: lego_26nov2009_5984 via photopin (license) 
photo credit (2): Gakken EX kit (Denshi Blocks) via photopin (license)

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