Monthly Archives: December 2016

Decorative: Photo of inside of toy electronic guitar

Toy Takeapart

{Cross-posted from MakerBridge blog}

Over the past few months, we’ve been piloting Toy Takeapart at our statewide MakerFest events and Michigan Makers after-school program. It’s pretty close to a sure-fire hit.

MM Toy Take Apart 11/22/2016

We visit our favorite end-of-the-line thrift store outlet, where we can buy electronic toys for less than a dollar and know that if we did not buy the toy, it would be dumpster-bound within the hour. (That saves us from the guilt of thinking we have grabbed a toy that a needy child otherwise could have used.)

MM Toy Take Apart 11/22/2016

We avoid any toys with a screen — I’m a little anxious about what chemicals could be released if the screen was cracked.

MM Toy Take Apart 11/22/2016

Why toys and not appliances? Toys tend to run on 6 volts or fewer of electricity. Anything that plugs in gets 120V, and that means there can be energy stored up inside that could be unsafe for kids.

MM@Mitchell 11/29/2016

If it’s a public event, we generally set out the toys with a handful of screwdrivers, googles, pliers, and this handout. Without a doubt, when we clean up at the end of the night, the take apart table looks like a tornado has hit. Even though we tell kids and families that they can keep We scoop up anything that is left over. Anything cool and electronic gets saved for future digital jewelry-making. Anything else gets added to the junk box, where it will get a second life inspiring a new invention or creation.

MM@Mitchell 11/29/2016

This year, we are working with third graders after school, and we notice that they have new discoveries and needs different from the 4th and 5th graders we’ve worked with previously. Here is some of what they are learning (and what we are learning about them!):

  1. Many third graders have never used hand tools before. They love the tiny precision screwdrivers and don’t intuitively recognize that they need to pick a right-sized screwdriver for the screw. Tinier isn’t always better — a standard No. 1 Philips screwdriver is often our go-to. (What made us realize this was that we had lost one or two of these over the summer and suddenly we were scrambling to share!)
  2. They’ve never heard “lefty loosy, righty tighty.”
  3. The simultaneous push-down-while-turning dual action of screwdrivers is tough for them to master, especially when they are tackling a new screw. We sometimes have to get them started for them. However, they tend to have high levels of perseverance for removing multiple screws. What facilitates this is that we try to put at least two kids on a toy at a time so they can take turns.
  4. They are less interested in the science of circuitry and more in the wonder of the stuff they find inside. They reacted with enormous wonder to polyfill inside stuff animated creatures.
  5. Speakers are magnetic and much more interesting to them than circuits, capacitors, or resistors.
  6. Cutting wires is more awesome than discovering what components are connected by the wires.

Taking parts home is part of the fun.

I’m tickled to see how many life skills these kids are acquiring as they go on. It’s empowering to master the art of driving (or, in this case, “undriving”) screws. And fascinating to realize we’ve now been in this making and tinkering business long enough to see the different ways kids react depending on their age and experience.

Have you hosted a takepart, wreck lab, or appliance autopsy event?

Kristin

Benzonia Holiday Party

We were so excited to spend the weekend in Benzonia for meetings with our colleagues from Benzonia Public Library (BPL) and Grow Benzie and to get to be part of the BPL Holiday Party!

Community carols, the perfectly-advertised hilarious puppet show, and then lots of time to make stuff!

The Repurposeful Librarians set up several craft stations for kids, and we had a gift-making and wrapping station consisting of:

Blank certificate paper so kids could make coupons (“good for one back rub”) or certificates (“Best Mom!”), roll them up, tie them with ribbons, and present as holiday gifts.

Benzonia Holiday Magic

Recycled suede bookmarks, with the last-minute addition of similar recycled suede bracelets (we bought suede jackets for $1 at thrift stores and cut them into standard shapes that participants could then fringe or trim into their preferred shapes) that kids of all ages could stamp, draw on with Sharpies, and gift:

Benzonia Holiday Magic

Benzonia Holiday Magic

Benzonia Holiday Magic

Benzonia Holiday Magic

QuestLove-inspired LEGO pins. We threw some ornament hooks into the van at the last minute, and LEGO ornaments were way more popular!

 

Benzonia Holiday Magic

Benzonia Holiday Magic

Benzonia Holiday Magic

Benzonia Holiday Magic

Buttons and magnets made with our donated vintage button-maker and our brand-new 1″ buttonmaker from American Buttons! We had blank circles for DIY original artwork, plus a vintage dictionary, picture book galleys, and magazines for those preferring to hunt for art:

Benzonia Holiday Magic

Benzonia Holiday Magic

And you can’t hide your gifts from family members unless you take them home already-wrapped, right? So we also had an easy-for-kids gift-wrapping station, complete with lots of bows rescued from a local thrift store:

 

Benzonia Holiday Magic

Benzonia Holiday Magic

Sadly, we had to return to the campus world of semester-end cramming, projects, and grading, but not before we caught a glimpse of the Holiday Magic parade!

Benzonia Holiday Magic

We have been deriving so much pleasure from our ongoing partnership with BPL. Benzonia is 4+ hours from Ann Arbor, but we chattered the whole way there and back, inspired and full of new ideas. We cannot wait for our next trip there in January!

To see more photos, as well as what the Repurposeful Librarians had up their sleeves for kids to make, check out our Flickr photo album!

Kristin

Benzonia Craft Fair

Kamya and I have had the Benzonia Craft Fair marked in our calendars since August. We’ve been dying to see the work of the Repurposeful Librarians, Michelle and Cathy’s fundraising-through-crafting arm. Proceeds benefit programs at Benzonia Public Library.

We came up the day before for some meetings, then were bowled over by what we saw at the Fair. (Let’s just say we did much of our holiday shopping, too!)

Getting off the elevator, I saw this (left to right):

Benzonia Craft Fair 12/3/2016
(Middle school spirit swag, plus jewelry, homemade jellies, balms, and lotions)

Benzonia Craft Fair 12/3/2016(
(
More homemade concoctions, then a booth raising money for education in Borneo by repurposing shoe leather scraps, then a booth selling upcycled wool mittens, hats, adn clothing.)

Here is some of what drew our eye at the Repurposeful Librarians’ booth:

Benzonia Craft Fair 12/3/2016
(See that lamp on the left? It now belongs to me.)

BPL Repurposeful Librarians: Art pages from a donated coffee table book for sale $1/page -- better than selling the book at a Used Book Sale
(These are actually carefully excised from a donated coffee table book and sold for $1/page. So many sold while we were there. What a clever and profitable alternative to selling the book itself at a book sale!)

Benzonia Craft Fair 12/3/2016(
(
Ornaments from recycled materials.)

Benzonia Craft Fair 12/3/2016
(
Rolled up print = snowman)

Benzonia Craft Fair 12/3/2016

Benzonia Craft Fair 12/3/2016
(
Having bought many gifts at the booth, I realize these photos are full of what I did not buy but yearned for!)

Benzonia Craft Fair 12/3/2016
(
More rolled paper designs)

Benzonia Craft Fair 12/3/2016
(
Everything sold by the Repurposeful Librarians is designed and made by library staffers on their own time. All profits benefit programs at the library. This is the only library I know of that has a program like this!)

Beyond the Repurposefuls, Sophie had Charlie Brown trees for sale:

Benzonia Craft Fair 12/3/2016

 

Jimmy’s booth featured one-of-a-kind Harry Potter wands. If you were really lucky, Sophie was working the booth and could help you pick one just right for you. Then she’d tell you what was inside the wand (mine had a phoenix feather). Service right out Diagon Alley!

Benzonia Craft Fair 12/3/2016

Benzonia Craft Fair 12/3/2016

 

And this booth of art, batik art (including a book!), and lavender treats from the Flynn farm:

Benzonia Craft Fair 12/3/2016

Benzonia Craft Fair 12/3/2016

We were so inspired by the artistry we saw in this single small room — we got lots of, err, “holiday” shopping done. If only there had been enough money for a custom upcycled wool jacket … the basket woven with an antler handle … the quilt … the stuffed dragon tail for kids … the jewelry worthy of an episode of The Tudors …)

Enjoy the visual feast!