If you have been reading my blog for a while, you know that I try very hard to work with open-ended projects that the kids find meaningful. This week, the week before Hallowe'en, I had three workshops planned. I wanted an open-ended project to fit the time of year that we would all enjoy.
I started by asking the kids. In my junior Inventors Workshop last week, I asked them what they thought would make a good Hallowe'en project. We chatted about it as they finished working on their Talking Stuffies. They all thought something round would be good. Two glowing eyes were important. And orange. Lots of talk about orange. So, pumpkins. I thought this would be a week of pumpkins.
As I worked to gather my supplies, I looked for something round. Tennis balls were too heavy. Ping pong balls too small. I finally found some styrofoam balls at the dollar store. Perfect. I found some white, orange and black tissue paper. And I scored some sheer white fabric ends at a local curtain store.
Working with the styrofoam ball was fun. I enjoyed putting the prototype together. It was easy to poke the LED legs through the hole in the battery tab. A glue dot held the battery onto the ball easily. Paper fasteners kept everything together and on the ball. Conductive thread worked well to close the circuit and was easy to manipulate as a switch.
The kids loved it when I introduced my prototype as the bones of the project! The hardest part was explaining the parallel circuit. My primary group, who managed the quiz cards so well, was completely overwhelmed by this. The week before Hallowe'en is not the best week to introduce new concepts! Focus was definitely elsewhere.
With the primary group we concentrated on ghosts. They had a lot of fun with the fabric and the yarn, but it was challenging for them to cut the fabric with their scissors. Having the tissue paper on hand helped with this. Once they got their LEDs to light up, they definitely got the hang of opening and closing the circuit. So that was successful. And playing with the ghosts afterwards was lots of fun!
The older kids I worked with this week really got into this activity. They did a great job of putting the circuits together. I liked the way the circuit worked on the ball for this. More than once, someone would get one LED lit up, but not both. The foam was easy to manipulate and change. That was an unexpected benefit. They were happy to problem solve and find the solution on their own.
As we started to gradually move away from ghosts I saw some great creations. Lots of bats and cats. I loved the spider with the dangling legs. But only one pumpkin! They all had to figure out how to decorate their "bones" and still keep a functional switch. I liked how a paper faster was often worked into the design as a mouth or a nose.
And my prototype? My "bones" finally got wrapped up into a mummy!