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‘Unboxing’ a MakerBox

In this video, Alison talks us through the unboxing of a MakerBox.
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One of the projects we’ve undertaken is focused on makerboxes. This is a concept that is based on the traditional resource used in many nurseries and primary schools which is a story sack. A story sack consists of a children’s picture book and resources that relate to that book in some way, such as language games, maths games, puppets and so on. These are great resources for fostering children’s motivation engagement in learning. And so we drew on the idea and extended the resources linked to the picture book to include maker resources.
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The resources are then placed within a box and practitioners can use them with individuals or groups of children to excite them, and engage them in STEM learning in a way that integrates STEM with art, storytelling, play and so on. So we’ve put them inside these really useful boxes just because they make them really handy to store. So they come with some instruction. This one is sound and music. So all the boxes that we put together have got different themes. In fact, all of the themes that we’ve done can be found on our website. So you can download the PDFs of all the different themes and these booklets with all the content in.
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So I’m going to get everything out and then we’ll go through what things are. We’ll have a little look into this booklet. It just first of all starts off with a story sack. So we’re going to try and locate that, I think it’s this one. And actually we’ve put in a few books into this one. So we have got Squeak Rumble Whomp Whomp Whomp. We’ve got The Drum, and we’ve also got The Ding Dong Bag. And inside the bag we’ve got a range of musical instruments.
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So what this means is children can go through the books, and can have a go at just exploring using the musical instruments as well. Now somewhere we have got some small world play, and we’ve included a little finger puppet of Louis Armstrong. And this goes with our puppet theatre. So we’ve got this little puppet theatre here that opens out.
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And it’s got construction bits in here to make a theatre. And so there’s a little bit of play that can be had with the books, exploring the books. And using puppets can really help children just explore the language a little bit more, do a bit of role playing, and help the story come to life. So that’s a really fun part of the book. Now we have a language game. So in here we have got this soundtracks game. So this is the kind of thing you might well already have in your setting, and you could piece together things that you already have. Language games, maths games, small world play, around the theme of a book already.
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So this is a simple game all about soundtracks. And it’s filled with some cards, there’s a disc in here, and so the children match what they’re hearing with what they can see on the cards. A bit like a kind of soundtrack bingo. And we’ve also got some little laser cut guitars somewhere. Using these little plastic trays you can put a random amount of guitars in each tray, and using these light and sound buzzers you can have a bit of guess the amount of guitars in the tray. So it’s just quite a fun game, it can also help children with counting, estimating, and things like that. So that’s the kind of thing you’d find in a normal story sack.
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What we’ve done with the maker box is we’ve extended that to also include maker activities. So the first one is a craft activity using felts, wool, some googly eyes - we absolutely love googly eyes I think everything looks better with googly eyes on it - and some glue. So some quite basic craft materials that you might already have in your setting. And our activity, our maker activity, is for the children to make their own finger puppets. So once your puppet theatre is set up children can carry on using that and make their own puppets.
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And that might be linked to these stories in this book, it might be their own characters formulated from their own stories, or it might be from other books that you’ve got as well. So that’s our first maker activity. The second maker activity - we’ve got some bits in here - I’ve got a bag of dried chickpeas, I’ve got a variety of pens, and tapes, and also in our box we have got a whole load of these cardboard tubes. So this is really simple and this is about making musical instrument. So the children are able to fill up - put a handful of chickpeas into their tube, use some coloured pens, and some tape.
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You might even use some other material, you might want to use some of your wool and some of your felt and decorate it however they want to. It’s their musical instrument. So that’s our final maker activity. So you can see there’s a real range of things to do all based around the theme of music and sound. So next we’re going to go and take these to a group of teachers and nursery practitioners. We’re going to give them some training about makerspaces and how to use them. And then they’re going to be able to take their own boxes back to their schools, back to their nurseries, and we can see how they get on with them.

In this video, Alison talks us through the unboxing of a MakerBox. MakerBoxes were developed by the MakEY project team here in Sheffield and build on the concept of ‘story sacks’, which are a well-established set of resources familiar to early years practitioners.

Each MakerBox contains materials and resources that enable two maker activities to be undertaken.

These are activities that involve making and can foster learning in science, engineering, mathematics and technology (STEM), in addition to relating to curriculum areas such as art, craft and design, music, and so on (STEAM).

A full list of the contents of all the Makerboxes can be found on the Makey website.

Are there any themes for a Makerbox that you would like to use in your setting?

There is a second video available in which Alison unboxes a MakerBox based around architecture.

This is an additional video, hosted on YouTube.

What is an ‘unboxing’ video?

Unboxing videos are a Youtube phenomenon in which people record themselves unpacking products, particularly high tech consumer products and toys. They will describe the item in detail and often demonstrate the product too. These types of videos are popular with children who both create and consume these videos.

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