Mrs. Kelly Hocking’s Kindergarten class just started a collaborative project with the art teacher and the media center. Her class has been very inquisitive about structures and sculptures and what it’s like to be inside of those structures. For example, they’ve looked closely at the Statue of Liberty and they are fascinated with the idea of going inside and looking out from the crown. In art, Mrs. Foretich is introducing maquette sculpture which is a small scale model of a rough draft or unfinished work. It allows them to test how different shapes are put together without making a full sculpture.
These 2 ideas started coming together in a project. Mrs. Hocking started exploring Minecraft at home and thinking about how worlds and structures were created in the virtual world. Then she started wondering how this might flow into the discussions her class was already having about imagining and going inside of structures. This is when we started talking about Blokify as a tool for putting together blocks to create a larger structure.
Mrs. Kelly, the art teacher, and I all met to brainstorm. Students will eventually build a larger sculpture out of shapes in art. Their art standard is:
GPS: Demonstrates that shapes can be put together to make new shapes or forms.
Their essential question is:
How do artists build Sculptures?
We decided that we would start our journey with Blokify. Blokify is a free iPad app that allows students to put a variety of blocks together to build pretty much anything and then 3D print that shape. The files can be emailed for download into your own software for 3D printing conversion.
We decided that Blokify would be the kickoff to this larger project. In the library, Mrs. Foretich, our art teacher, showed students some examples of maquettes and talked about how artists might make a rough draft of a larger sculpture to test some things out before making a larger sculpture. Then, we showed students some images from Blokify’s facebook page to give students the idea that you don’t just have to make a box in Blokify.
After that, students went straight to iPads and jumped in. We didn’t spend a lot of time “teaching” them how to use the app. Instead, we let them explore. We also didn’t tell them what to build because we wanted them to have permission to imagine and dream as they built. Mrs. Foretch and I walked around to tables and showed students some tips as they worked. For example, if you hold your finger on a block it will disappear. If you pinch the screen, you can zoom in and out.
Two of my enrichment cluster students came to support students as they worked, too. Monica, 5th grader, and Grant, 3rd grader, were naturals at nudging Kindergarten students along without doing the work for them. We were almost able to have a helper at every table because of them. I was so glad that their teachers allowed them to come and share their expertise with Kindergarten.
Some students started really being strategic about where their blocks went in their structures while others liked tapping all over the screen and seeing how it turned out. We did question a bit if we didn’t give student enough guidance, but we ultimately decided that they really needed this time to explore. If our prints don’t quite turn out like they hoped, then it will be a learning experience about how they might rethink their own approach to designing.
As always, there were some wonderful moments that happened. One moment was when a student who we’ve all been trying to find the right learning method was thoroughly engaged. He was so proud of the work he did, and he showed us a way to connect with him as a learner. I hope that this new discovery will lead to other projects and learning experiences for him in his classroom.
After students left, I had a group of 5th grade helpers email me all of the files from the iPads. I put each file into Makerware, resized it, and saved it onto an SD card for printing. We will print our designs after spring break.
Once designs are printed, Mrs. Hocking wants students to put their structures on a piece of paper and draw the rest of the setting around the structure. From there, students will think about the inside of their structure as well as the surroundings and begin to tell a story about their creations. We aren’t sure yet how that piece will be captured, but I’m excited about the possibility.
In art, Mrs. Foretich will continue to explore this standard by expanding what students are building.