"The process has made me more aware of what my students need and what materials will help them feel successful.” - Kelsey Ray, Bradfield Elementary Librarian
Kelsey Ray is using her 2016 Education Foundation Grant to provide Bradfield Elementary students a space where they are free to create. This "makerspace" allows students unstructured time that they can use to develop their creativity.
Making a "makerspace"
According to Kelsey, when it comes to creating an environment that provides a wide range of possible activities, mixing up the tools provided to students is key. "I try to have a big variety of materials so that I can reach different types of learners and interests," said Kelsey. "Some kids enjoy using building sets, while others prefer to be creative using art materials. Some kids like working in groups playing a game like UNO, while others would prefer to work alone to create a tower using Lincoln Logs."
While the activities vary throughout the school year, some of the current options include Legos, K'Nex, Tinkertoys, Lincoln Logs, Jenga, Uno, Hot Wheels, a weather reporter station, coloring, duct tape creation, and coding robots called Ozobots.
Choosing to create
"I have learned that students love getting to express themselves creatively and they enjoy getting time to just be a kid."
One of the most important features of the program is allowing students to decide what to do with their time. "The students enjoy coming to the library because they get to choose which activity they want to do. The freedom of choice and getting to use materials that they do not have access to at home excites them," Kelsey added.
This excitement is made evident by the pride the students take in their own work. Kelsey encourages these sentiments by featuring a photo wall where students can post pictures of what they have created.
Leading by example
In addition to providing value for students, the program is also making an impact throughout parts of the district by showcasing different materials and activities that other teachers can employ in their own programs. "Other librarians and teachers have seen the items that I add to my 'makerspace' area and they decide to purchase them or get the items using grant money as well," said Kelsey. "Sometimes looking at a catalog can make it hard to decide whether an item is worth it, but seeing the materials used by kids can give better feedback."