Step 1: What the heck do we make?
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It took a while to figure out. The teacher sent a list of possible items that you could make: house, car, jewelry box, etc. We wanted to be spectacular. So first we looked at what was available to us and picked out the items we could work with. No glass, no cans and nothing with sharp edges were the only stipulations I made as Big Sister rummaged through our overflowing recycle bucket (overflowing because I'd been saving for weeks because of this project). So we landed on a doll or robot (some humanoid form) as our choice project.
Step 2: Planning...Let's begin
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Now that we've selected what we're going to do... We planned how we were going to construct the project and how pieces fit together. It was important for us to figure out which method of "sticking" the pieces together worked best. We had super glue, tape and yarn... my mother is a skilled quilter and seamstress so we decided to use yarn to "sew" the project together... the tape wasn't working and we didn't have enough super glue. So we have our method of holding it together! Let's begin!
Step 3: The Body... Legs
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We started to construct the project from the bottom up, kind of like building a house. It seemed like the most probable method.
We cut little holes in toilet paper rolls and the coffee canister. Now we took a bobby-pin... so ratchet, but we used one as a needle and threaded the yarn through the parts.
The best thing about this method was after I cut the holes in the canister and in the rolls, I was able to show Big Sister how to thread it through and then she could do the rest!
Step 4: The Body... Arms
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Now the arms were a bit more tricky. We thought we could sew them on, but the paper towel roll was very thin and could break easily if we had chosen to separate it. So we decided that cutting the body and threading the roll through was the best option.
First we measured the hole and then applied tape to the coffee container on the inside and the outside. This helped to prevent any splitting that would occur when we cut the coffee container. After making sure it would fit, I allowed Big Sister to thread the "arms" through the coffee container body.
Step 5: Hands
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She wanted hands really badly. This took some problem solving and time to figure out. We couldn't just tape hands on and we couldn't just leave it as is... so we decided using berry clamshells would be the best option. They're awesome because the open and close.
After looking at them closely, we realized all the holes in the back near the hinge... this was a perfect place for us to "sew" the hands on. We decided to connect the hands though yarn that was threaded through the arms. So in essence we created an old school "telephone" of sorts with berry clamshells and yarn... this is the best way I can explain this to you. Sorry.
Step 6: Face
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We now have an awesome body... we need to make a face. Creating a strategy for the face as well as a strategy for connecting it all together was rather difficult. We looked at the pieces in front of us. We didn't want the face to be 2-D and the body was so awesomely 3-D.
Finally we realized that the egg carton "bumpies" could make great facial features. We cut the egg carton to make eyes and a nose. Then we sewed the yarn through the sides so that we could tie it around the bottle. We tied those pieces to the face (shampoo bottle) and then taped the yarn to the side of the bottle. Taping the yarn to the bottle reinforced the stability of the egg carton pieces without having to cut or splinter the sides of the shampoo bottle.
Step 7: Head and Final Construction
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This ended up being a 2 day project.
With a refreshed mind we figured out how we would connect the head and how we would ensure the whole thing wouldn't fall apart. We cut a hole in the shampoo bottle at the top and then very carefully threaded yarn through the body, under the arms and up through the shampoo bottle top... this was hard.
The most difficult part was threading the second piece of yarn through the hole in the top of the shampoo bottle so that we could tie a knot at the top. We ended up using a chopstick to complete the challenge (not pictured because of the level of frustration at that point). After that we tied the two strings in a knot at the very top of the head (shampoo bottle). Now the shampoo bottle was secured and wouldn't fall left or right off of the coffee container.
Step 8: Hair
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You can't have a doll without hair. So with the string knot we made at the top of the head, we decided to tie more string around that knot to make hair. Each time we lightly pulling at the string that held all the doll's parts together. This way the pieces are pulled taut and the doll wouldn't fall apart. I let Big Sister do the majority of the yarn hair which was very manageable for her.
What We Learned?
- Kids Can't Do This Alone- it was a parent project. Assignments like this are intended for heavy parental supervision and participation. Early elementary kids need activities like this to cultivate their joy of learning, problem solving, 3-D spacial understanding, risk taking and other project based developmental skills.
- STEM E is for "Engineering"- this was an engineering project. I mean thankfully I've got many engineers and scientists as relatives because I had to tap into those genetics to finish the job.
- ART- this was also an art project. We had to use our creativity to make it look appealing and resemble a doll. With that I'd like to add that most STEM careers should actually begin seeing themselves as artists... just artists using digital or technical mediums.
- Project Based Learning Works- I asked Big Sister to recap. She says the experience showed her how to problem solve and put things together like a puzzle; teamwork; building and constructing (hands on learning); and also working with mommy is fun.
- Just go with the flow.
- Don't worry if it's perfect.
- Let the project lead you!