Aug 9, 2009

Excuses first. Thank yous second, then Maker funtime!

I've been a bit buried under my email this last two weeks. We went away for a weekend and it's just all gone horribly Pete Tong from then on, so if you have emailed me a question recently I do appologise profusely for probably not having got back to you yet. I'll get there. I will!

A couple of nice folk have given me a couple of nice blogitty awardy thingies during the last couple of weeks, so I want to hog some postspace to say a proper thank you before I show you the fun we had this Saturday.

"Little Nut Tree" from "Not Really Homeschooling" listed me in her 15 bloggers to pass her "One lovely blog" award on to. Thank you! The other 14 on her list include some great blogs that I'd never come across before, so well worth checking out if you've got a mo.
aayladomontessori from "Aayla do! Montessori" gave me a place in her list of five blogs to award the "honest scrap" doohicky to. Cheers m'dears!
If you've been here with me a while then you know I'm total pants with passing these award things on in the style that they request, mostly because I'm still pretty new to this game and if I listed ten blogs I liked then you'd probably have heard of them all already. There is one person that I've come across recently though, who I think is made of pure awesome that I want to tell everyone I meet about. Dude's name is Gever Tulley and he runs a summer camp program in Monterey called "Tinkering School".

He basically makes it possible for children as young as seven to design and build and test their own inventions in a collaborative and immersive, creative environment, using all manner of materials. Best of all, it's done in a way that means the kids aren't stifled by overprotective intentions. This is something that I absolutely admire! Showing children how to use real tools safely, and letting them practice making the stuff they want to make with those tools. I found out about what he does via TED (anyone else love TED talks?) anyway, here are two of the talks he gave...

Gever Tulley on 5 dangerous things for kids.

Gever Tulley teaches life lessons through tinkering.

I love people with that amount of enthusiasm for giving kids freedom, space and time to learn through doing. I think all children should be able to have that kind of experience. I would never have wanted to leave if I'd been sent to tinkering school as a kid! I guess that's why I went and studied physics, so I could be trusted to play with lasers and telescopes.

I wanted to tell you about the fun we had this Saturday too. The kids got to make a lot of cool things and it didn't cost us a dime. First off we went to Lowes for the build and grow workshop again and this time they got to make a little rubber band powered wooden boat each. We'd made some of these boats out of scrap in the past at home with a bunch of kids, but that was about a year ago, so the kids were only two and three at the time and although they could use the hammer just about, this time it was with a lot more accuracy!
Here's pic of the kids "filling the testing pool" for the boats that we built this time last year. I love the mischief in this photo.

After making the boats, we set off to Santa Rosa, where the last Mini Maker Faire was being held in a local bookstore. We arrived with about an hour to explore and make. I've never been to Maker Faire before. We really wanted to go this year, but it was on during the only time we could fly back to the UK cheaply, so we'll have to wait until next year for the full experience. The mini Maker Faire was lovely though. Plenty of really helpful, enthusiastic and creative people. The girls got to make LED throwies and bristle bots with two of the guys from Make, Eric Chu and Steven Lemos.

They also got to do a bit of needle felting with Brookelynn Morris, who writes for Craft. My three year old was very into the needle felting. She was in awe of the cool things that Brookelynn had made and desperately wanted to do it herself. I was really relieved that Brookelynn was pleased to have her trying it, because a three year old with a four inch needle would freak most people out. She said that it was nice to have the young ones involved and shown how to use the needles proparly, rather than being kept away from them. Phew! Both my girls made a cute little felt cup cake to take home along with the throwies, the bristle bot and the wooden boats.

Both girls were captivated by Brad Prather's fantastic display of homemade solar powered contraptions. Lots of things whirring and spinning and generally being amazing toddler eye-candy in the bright sunshine outside the door of the bookstore. Brad was so nice to the girls and he even gave my littlest filth wizard one of the decorations from one of his machines. She was very happy and decided that he was called "the sun man". My four year old made the connection with Wall-e, saying "wall-e eats sunshine too". I'm already looking forward to when we can have the full Maker Faire experience next year! After the Mini Maker Faire, we walked across the road and found a street fair going on with free balloon animals, free face painting and a live band. What more could you ask for!?!
I've been pootling away making presents for my four year old, who's birthday is coming up in October, so I'll be posting about some of that when I get my act together. makey crafty fun fun.


Cenzi Stiles said...

yes, I love TED convos' too! I have upped my "fatherhoodness" from 10 to 20 after discovering your website a few weeks ago. Thank you!

Valerie @ Frugal Family Fun Blog said...

You have been so busy! Looks like lots of fun!

Kami said...

Oh my goodie-ness, another Gever Tulley lover, what a coincidence! After I heard his TED talk about two years ago, I tried to convince all these different people to start a tinkering school here in Austin, TX. No one did so I took a stab at it:
It's not the best but it'll have to do for now...
I'm so impressed that you do all this wonderful stuff with your girls! How valuable for them to grow up thinking, making, and creating.

Jennifer Carden said...

We also do lots of needle felting here!!