Making and Literacy Guide for Doll-E 1.0

When I started at JoyLabz in July, Doll- E 1.0 by Shanda McCloskey was still a fairly new release.

This adorable picture book, is about a tech savvy young girl named Charlotte who is given a doll by her parents and she’s unsure at first about what to do with it.

Throughout the book, we see Makey Makey references. In one scene, the dog is even playing a banana piano! (And correctly grounded!)

So I knew I needed to make a guide that coincided with this great little book. (Have I mentioned about much I love combining making and literacy? I love designing maker activities that coincide with great books. Check out this wind tunnel activity based on Rosie Revere Engineer!)

The first thing I thought of after reading this book, was how fun it would be to hand kids a box of spare parts and let them create a doll or a robot. One of my favorite easy maker projects last year was handing 2nd graders junk in paper bag to make robots. (Thank you, Angie O’Malley for the idea!)

But I wanted to kick it up a notch and have them create something they could connect to Makey Makey AND Scratch.  In the book, Charlotte attempts to increase her doll’s database, and this made me think back to a workshop I led in San Angelo this summer. During this advanced maker ed workshop I had teachers take apart toys and re-make them after exploring microcontrollers.

One thing I always focus on during a workshop is “invention literacy” or the ability to look at how things work and make new things.

So during this workshop something one of my participants said stuck with me. I showed these ladies how they could create multiple sound effects by creating variables in Scratch. This would allow them to make multiple sounds on just one button press. After showing them how it worked, one of the teachers said, “Oh! So this is how my granddaughter’s doll works?!”

It was a great a-ha moment for both of us. It helped me reaffirm that one of the best ways to learn how something works is to take it apart, and that another way to become more fluent in invention is to try and create your own version of an invention! (How do we guide kids to think, “Oh, this is how a talking doll works, now can I make my own?”)

Based on the book, I thought it would be good for students (and makers of all ages) to build their own creation and give it a voice.

So I handed my own girls a pile of junk and said, “Make something!”

They made very different creations!

If you want to see how my girls got their creations to talk or you want to make your own talking toy- The full guide for Doll-E 1.0 is now available in Labz!

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Kits, Making, and Tinkering: Convo with a Klatch of Makers

A few weeks ago, I noticed a tweet from Amos Blanton of LEGO, that intrigued me and reminded me of something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. Here’s his tweet.

What I liked about it this is that it ties in nicely with the thought of “maker fluency” and “invention fluency.” One can only begin to get really innovative with making and creating if they are given TIME to create. Just as one must cook a lot to bake great things, our students need to make things A LOT to build their invention fluency.

Also, we as teachers (and learners) we need to be making things a lot too. And let our students see us making things AND running into problems, researching, brainstorming, etc. So I posted this sub tweet:

What followed beyond that was a lively discussion on kits, what makes a kit, what is the difference between a “open ended kit” and a “one and done kit.”

We really got into thinking about some of the things we call kits and asked if we should consider some of these “kits” instead as “tools” or “materials.”

The conversation grew and expanded. The thoughts were getting too big for 140 characters. Then Bud Hunt, posted this:

The concepts and conversation continued to grow. In fact, Bud ended up writing a whole post about boundaries, constraints, and kits which made me (and the others) want to continue our convo and unpack these ideas in a slightly more formal setting.

We found a time when we can all chat. Thanks to Mark Schreiber of Year in the Making, you can eavesdrop while this lively klatch of educators talk about: kits, tinkering, and making.

The Full Klatch

  • Moderator: Stephanie Chang of Maker Ed
  • Host: Mark Schreiber of Year in the Making
  • Panelist: Amos Blanton of LEGO Foundation
  • Panelist: Colleen Graves -of Makey Makey/Joy Labz
  • Panelist: Katie Henry of Bird Brain Technology /Hummingbird Robotics
  • Panelist: Peter Hoh Creator of Tool Lending Library and Awesome Maker Educator
  • Panelist: Karen Wilkinson of The Tinkering Studio
  • Panelist Bud Hunt of Clearview Library District and Amazing Maker Educator

Watch the archived video here:

Can Kits be open ended_ (3)