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Part 2, Curriculum and Makerspaces – Responding to literature with creativity and tech


Guest Blog - Jackie Child

Softlink is delighted to introduce guest blogger Jackie Child, Teacher Librarian at St Aidan’s Anglican Girls’ School in Brisbane and author of the TinkeringChild.com blog. Jackie is a passionate primary educator with over 40 years’ experience and a sessional tutor for pre-service teachers at Griffith University. In this series of blog posts, Jackie shares her experience working with students across all grade levels to address a range of curriculum objectives through tech-centred activities in the school’s library/makerspace.

Tinkering Child

Last week’s post focused on creative coding activities that address elements of the STEM curriculum. This second post looks at ways to connect literature and coding, using texts as a starting point for creative design, engineering and programming activities for problem solving and self-expression.

St Aidan’s Library Makerspace – Responding to literature with creativity and tech

Teacher Librarians have used literature to stimulate and promote imagination and creativity in their students for as long as I can remember, so having the opportunity to add more technology into our library through a Makerspace to further enhance our students’ imagination and creativity was a huge plus. In doing so, we also addressed many elements of the Australian Technologies curriculum, in particular the Digital Technologies component.

Sharing beautiful stories with our students is always the highlight of our school day. After reading Different Like Coco by Elizabeth Matthews and discussing many of the issues that come up in the story, we looked at making a marble run in a shoe box lid, which included a quiz feature to allow the marble to complete the run.

On another occasion in our Makerspace, one wall was designated as a ‘Marble Run Wall’ demonstrating engineering skills as students’ problem solved how to creatively make interesting and challenging runs that were slow in parts and then sped up with steps, pinwheels and even LED lights!

Through guided learning in Library lessons, students share skills, techniques, equipment and tools. They are motivated to imagine and create using stories such as A Very Unusual Pursuit by Catherine Jinks. This particular story inspired our girls to create ‘Bogles’ using LED circuitry on paper and Squishy Dough. Year 1s listened and discussed The Duck and the Darklings by Glenda Millard and used Squishy Dough to create ‘hope from darkness’. Some of their creations were amazing! One student used LEDs to turn a ‘blob into a snail’ and another a ‘closed umbrella to open umbrella’.

Star Wars

The popularity of Star Wars last year was a fabulous way to link coding to literature. Reading Star Wars: Finn & Rey Escape by Michael Siglain, the students were introduced to BB8, a droid in the Star Wars series. Using the Tickle App, the students were able to write programs to move BB8 around the room. The students created a mission for BB8 to complete. Two students set up a course for BB8 to navigate and land on a helipad ready to be rescued.

There are many novels, craft and activity books which can also be used to expose students to a variety of coding skills. Code.org has an Hour of Code project using Blockly and Javascript to code BB8 to collect scrap metal. This is a wonderful way to whet the students’ appetite to learn coding.

Using Tinkercad software, Year 6 students designed and 3D printed elephant legs after listening to the beautiful and moving story of how Mali loses a leg after stepping on a landmine in the book One Step at a Time by Jane Jolly.

Read more in the Curriculum and Makerspaces series