I love eating out, but eating out with a kid has its drawbacks. They grab forks and knives. They grab water glasses. They drop food. They kick the table. They get bored. They cry. I understand why. They aren’t in their natural environment. They don’t have a backyard to run around in. They don’t have a roomful of toys.
Expecting a kid to sit in their chair quietly while adults eat and talk for an hour is like expecting people to be happy in their seats while they watch a tech guru struggle to present without WiFi or the Internet.
But as every teacher knows, as every parent knows, you have to be ready for the unexpected. That’s why my son never had a problem at a restaurant. Everyone would compliment our son on how well behaved he was, but it wasn’t just his temperament, it was my wife’s preparation.
Every time we left the house she brought: multiple books, paper, markers, (water-based of course), snacks, water, quiet toys, and usually something my son had never seen before. Her backpack was like a portable, analog maker-space for kids. Whenever I would see kids going crazy at another table I congratulated myself for hitching my future with such a smart and ever-prepared woman. And this doesn’t just happen at home. You should see her transitional kindergarten room. It looks like a MakerSpace workshop, only there’s very little technology, but plenty of hands-on learning: a reading nook, a writing workshop, an art area, a house area, a table bin filled with salt crystals that looks like snow- I wish I could visit every day. Best of all she never has to worry if the internet is down, or the WiFi is spotty, because her room is built on a foundation of ever-ready analog making.
You too can be always ready if you just carry an analog maker kit in your backpack or cart. You can hold a conference session when the WiFi won’t work, you can take your learning outside, you can make sure that even learners without smart phones can share the same learning experience: educational equity is always important.
So what does an analog maker kit look like? Well it can look a little like this:
So what’s inside? Well here are just a few things you can put inside:
Luckily my friend Sean Ziebarth made this list look SO much better with a little Paper53 magic.
I would also add: Expo whiteboard markers, colored card stock, blank copy paper, chalk, sidewalk chalk, wooden blocks, PlayDoh, a stapler, a long-throw stapler etc… you can add more, it just depends on where you are going and what you think you might want to do. Here is what the case looks like when you open it.
and as you can see it fits perfectly in your backpack, or crate.
So what can you do with an analog maker kit? Probably hundreds of things, but here are just a few ideas.
A S.T.E.A.M wall of ideas
A one page response to literature, a reading, a concept.
A noticing wall created with an Expo marker after taking a noticing walk.
Or use that Expo marker to share new ways to create community in the classroom.
Index cards or post-its could create a #whyIwrite/teach etc.. wall. Or create another type of prompt or challenge. This one was created by one of my fellow FVHS teachers- Ms. Lawler. She put it in the hallway at school so everyone could share in the activity. She’s awesome.
Below are some pictures from an activity that we did at the Tomorrow’s Teachers Conference. These are high school students who are considering a career in teaching. I ran the entire session from a single analog maker box.
We were talking about what scares the things we are scared of
You could bring in a reading and then have your audience/students create a blackout poem. I think this would inspire more than a word cloud.
What if you analog maker box contained Post-its that were in a certain shape, like a heart? Or you had a box full of fish and created a school of fish on a wall?
What if instead of people taking notes in class or at your session you had them create a fanzine? You might want to show up with some images already cut out of magazines for people to mix and match.
Heck, you could even have some images already photocopies on some blank paper so people could riff and create something new.
What if you did some Cintascotching?
What if you brought some mini tubs of PlayDoh in your maker box so people could create a response to something?
Did I mention some unusual candy? Something that makes people feel young again?
It seems to resonate.
FINAL NOTE: While writing my Master’s Thesis oh so many years ago I remember a study on what bothered students the most about tech in the classroom. Their number one complaint was “watching their teacher struggle to fix or make tech work, when it wasn’t working.” Students and conference goers deserve better than that. If you start your lesson or session with an analog creation and conversation, the electronic sharing or re/mixing can always take place later. Time is precious, don’t cancel a class or session just because tech isn’t working. I love what technology can support and allow, but part of the innovation and technology mindset is finding solutions. I like carrying my solution in my backpack… like a good Boy Scout, or parent.
So what are you going to include in your analog maker box? Let me know in the comments below.