With the help our Teacher-in-Residence Ngina Johnson, we've put together a few project plans to get you started. If you have any projects you'd like to share with the world, please email Ngina at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Exploration & Cooperative Play
PLAY WITH PURPOSE
using the simple machines add-on kit
here's some classroom projects for inspiration!
Check out what everyone is building!
The best teachers are those who show you where to look,
but don’t tell you what to see…
—Alexandra K. Trenfor
Teachers will discover how to study abstract and concrete concepts with their students. Rigamajig is meant to support children’s creativity and encourages them to ask questions and to wonder about all the possibilities that can surface from one study or project to the next. It can be used for more than just play. Here children are taking their play and using it to learn. As an educator we must begin with creating a certain kind of environment that needs to be conscious of time, space and what is developmentally appropriate. It’s going to look differently in different schools and at different ages, and educators need to be comfortable with that. There is no one way or answer that is going to solve everything. This is an exploratory toy that can be used to support the learning of a diverse population of young minds.
Educators must keep in the forefront that Rigamajig’s purpose is to encourage children to be creators, problem solvers, to work cooperatively, and to illustrate their ideas in a practical and concrete way. If one is mindful of these suggestions, they will find that it is a useful tool in the classroom, and they will see their students grow developmentally, creatively and cooperatively through the experiences and processes.
As the facilitator, teachers need to
- Provide a free space/forum for students to share their experiences
- Allow for students to document with pictures/video and recorded conversations that they may have
- Understand that Rigamajig illustrates and is certainly not limited to concepts in creativity, literacy, math, science, cooperative learning, language development, free play, fun, and exploration
- Provide scaffolding of how to use Rigamajig in the classroom. Students and teachers will establish language and rules for using Rigamajig. Lines of communication are essential.
- Allow space for reflection i.e. show what works, what didn’t work, and how it was solved. What was fun and what was challenging?
- Provide new questions and challenges for more in depth questions and deeper exploration
for Teachers to
Design and Allow For:
Negotiation of how long something is explored or remains intact
Sharing of discoveries
Rigamajig brings learning to life.
Rigamajig puts the power in the hands of the child. We know that through hands-on experiences children develop the physical, emotional, and intellectual skills necessary to engage their world with confidence.
Exercising the imagination is not only exciting but has been linked to empathy and compassion. Since Rigamajig has no right or wrong answers, children imagine what to make, and figure out how to make it; Invention 101!
Rigamajig motivates playful, cooperative learning. Children make friends and share resources; “Trade you this pulley for that canvas!”, “Wanna help me make a fort?” ”Is that a giraffe?” and “Hey, will you hold this while I connect it?” are common greetings between children. And then, when playtime is over, they either take their Rigamajig contraption apart, or leave it for other children to re-imagine.
STE(A)M goals are built into the design and use of Rigamajig. By adding ART to STEM learning, each of the disciplines benefit from a creative approach and the advantages of an art process. Multiple iterations, thinking 3-dimensionally, visualizing ideas, and critical making are a few of the methods art brings.
Designing, analyzing and constructing products is at the heart of the Rigamajig. As they build, children are analyzing form and function to satisfy human and environmental needs. They construct and use simple machines, think about compression and tension, balance, properties of wood, and understand how parts relate to each other to create small systems to perform functions.
As they are designing and playing with these technological inventions, children practice problem solving. They create and play with simple machines, i.e. pulleys, ramps and screws, as well as invent new forms and functions.
Through their play, children experience the process of research, understanding, design, model building and testing and modifying that is part of every inventor’s process. Have children draw their creations and explain how they “work”.
Art goes beyond creativity, and art process involves the study of the materials, prototyping, testing and changing. Art practices thinking outside the box, and approaching problems playfully and with an open mind.
The modularity of the planks helps bring math language into children’s play. The parts work intuitively as units for easy building. Two small planks are equidistant to one large plank. This allows for geometric understandings. Clean up time is always a counting and sorting opportunity.
For young children, social studies is about learning to live, work and play within a community. The Rigamajig teaches working in small groups; developing social skills for negotiating, learning and listening to peers, and finding a voice. Have children share stories about their creations..
Play prompts for getting started
Build a Rigamajig that can lift something.
Build a Rigamajig you can get inside.
Build a contraption to take you to the center of the earth.
How many different ways can you join three pieces?
Build a contraption to send a bucket from one place to another.
Create something with four legs and a tail.
Give it a name. Make up a story about where it came from.
Build a structure that would allow you to live on a cloud.
Build a contraption that would allow you to ride a whale.
Tell a friend about your invention.
What is the tallest structure you can make with 5 pieces?
Using 15 pieces make a contraption that can hold a 10 lb. bag of potatoes.
What can you build with 20 pieces?
Tell and write how your contraptions work.
Make a structure that incorporates a balloon in a useful way.
Make a structure that incorporates an empty box.
Make a structure that incorporates a chair.
Use the Rigamajig to make a friend.
Now that you have made a structure...look at your neighbor’s creation and find a way to join your two structures to make a new one. What might it do?
Draw a picture of your Rigamajig creation and label the parts. Next, tell your neighbor instructions for how it works.
Invent your own prompts, or play without prompt!