I did a workshop with Standard 3 children at Mallya Aditi International School on Wednesday (11th August). The workshop was attended by 18 children and a series of 4 to 5 toys was on the agenda.
The aim of the workshop was to observe and judge:
The ease of with which children understand and make the toys.
Their ability to tell a story through the toy or to understand an underlying narrative through the session.
The level of involvement when it comes to making a toy themselves.
The value they hold in making something out of simple / junk materials and the excitement of actually playing with it.
The plan for the workshop:
Begin with origami and making a character (an origami crow). Everyone makes themselves a paper pet!
Making a bunch of paper fish. The pet is to be fed!
A game to see who catches the maximum number of fish in their crows beak. Whos pet is the best fed!
Making a whistle with ice cream sticks, rubber bands, paper and match-sticks. Call your pet back to you!
Put the crow down to rest.
Relate the crows flight to a helicopter in the air. What makes the helicopter fly?
Make straw spinner. Helicopter propeller lets it fly.
Make another toy that spins - The Ball that spins on a bottle cap when air is blown through a straws connected to the bottle cap. Encourage children to save their straws and bottle caps and other such materials to play with well know toys (the ball) in newer ways.
Distribute paper and crayons and ask them to draw a picture of their favourite toy and write a three line story about it.
What actually happened in the workshop:
I began with the origami crow. However it seemed a little difficult to make for the children. Them doing origami entailed a lot of excitement because theyve tried their hand at basics of origami and are familiar with its potential. There was a lot of guessing and suggestions as we went through making the crow. However there was a lot of assistance required through the process of making it. The instructions were tough to follow but the children were quite comfortable using their hands. Some named their crow as they made it and others took it for a flight across the table making their crow caw at other crows!
We went on to making fish for which I kept some fish in the center of each table which I had made from before. The process for making the fish was really simple so most children figured it out by opening up the fish i had already made. Others made it and immediately started picking up the fish with the beaks of the crow. Time was already running short so I skipped the game of getting the children to see whose pet was the best fed.
The time was almost up so I decided to cut it short to the story ending at the children calling the crow with the whistle. I gave out the ice cream sticks and they immediately started making noise with the sticks and trying some guess-work on how it would work. The assembly of the whistle was simple but most needed a little help with putting it together because the rubber-bands would slip out from their fingers. By the end of it the class was in a bit of a chaos as the period had gotten over and some of the whistles weren't working right due to blowing on it the wrong way.
We ended by making a paper bag to put the new toys into. This was at their suggestion itself.
Insights and Planning further:
A slightly older age group needs to be addressed in the workshops.
There is personal attention required to help make these toys. Almost a helper to every three to five children.
Pulling the children away from playing with the toys in the end to draw out and write a story about their favourite toy may not be possible.
Simpler toys need to be looked at or only a small number of toys is possible at a time. The children seemed satisfied with the toys they made but were curious about the material they saw laid out for the other toys.
A possibility of getting the children to personalize their toys instead of writing stories about them. This may lead to character and scenario building for the toy.
A little more emphasis on some of the material being scrap material.