Sunday, February 12, 2012

Making Stuff

"Learn by Doing" is the foundation of occupational therapy.  Mary Reilly said this best in her statement, "Man, through the use of his hands, as they are energized by mind and will, can influence the state of his own health."  As a school based occupational therapist, I would like to say they definitely can influence the state of one's own learning.

Good Magazine's article Can Schools Create a Culture of Learning By Doing? talks about this very topic.  A discussion was sparked by a group of educators sitting together in a session at EduCon, an education innovation conference where the sessions are designed as conversations rather than presentations.   The group asked the question, "What if schools created a culture of "DO" instead of a culture of "KNOW?"  After considering how to move forward, they took steps toward learning by doing in their own school, like introducing "meaningful tasks" into the classroom experience.

Every month I am trying to mix things up in our room at school.  Last month it was painting and drawing upside down.  This month I pulled out the "make it - take it" table.  I threw recyclables into our sand table, provided scissors and added a fresh roll of masking tape (don't you hate it when it it old and you can't peel off a decent piece)?  I have been amazed at what the kids are making.  I am even more amazed at their enjoyment of the process. 

the Make It - Take It table
masking tape strips hang from the wall for easy access
So often we resort to paper/pencil tasks to give to kids.  Our hands are rich with neural connections, both sensory and motor wise.  Why limit them to a pencil or crayon?  Let them make stuff.  These kids were learning through their creations - they problem solved, designed and assembled.  All in a day's work at school.

a castle in progress
a castle complete with a CD draw bridge

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