Kristen Minster’s third-graders worked diligently on a project this semester that tapped into their collaboration and creative skills. They brainstormed to answer the question, What can we design to help future Junior Kindergarteners learn in a fun way? Interviews with current JKers and their teachers revealed that our littlest Spartans really enjoy learning about animal life cycles (think: chicks, birds, ladybugs, and butterflies), and the inspired third-graders got to work designing custom-made educational toys.
Ms. Minster’s students teamed up with Bryan Innovation Lab Program Coordinator Megan Young to get her feedback and to bring their ideas to life. Using the Bryan Lab’s Glowforge laser printer, Ms. Young created 3D models of the students’ hand-drawn designs. “It was so cool to see how Ms. Minster and her students used the design thinking process to solve a specific need on campus,” said Ms. Young. “And what a thoughtful way to bring our 2021-22 school-wide theme of play to life!"
On a recent spring day, Ms. Minster smiled and asked the Junior Kindergarteners sitting at the tiny tables in front of her, “Who’s ready to play?” Her third-graders, standing next to her, grinned as they held colorful, paper-covered boxes filled with their handmade surprises. The JKers bounced in their chairs and exclaimed, “Me!”
At the toy reveal, the third-graders took turns narrating a PowerPoint presentation that mapped out their playful project, explaining the steps they took from start to finish. They even explained the meaning of the word “empathy” to their fellow Spartans. The Junior Kindergarteners bubbled over with excitement as the bright boxes were placed on their tables. Giggling, they lifted the lids of the boxes and dove into their new toys: The Chick Puzzle, Puzzle of the Butterfly, ABC Animals, Life Cycle Sorting, and Bird Puppets. Their third-grade friends eagerly joined in.
“I am so proud of my third-graders for their dedication, hard work, and creativity throughout the whole project process,” said Ms. Minster. “The games that they designed will support playful learning of many future Junior Kindergarten students.”
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