This past weekend, Making in Michigan Libraries took to Benzonia for a fantastic winter extravaganza! We spent a wonderful weekend helping out at Benzonia’s annual Holiday Party joined by Tori Culler and Caroline Wack from our Michigan Makers project.
Benzonia has a lovely tradition of hosting a holiday party to celebrate the approaching holiday season. The event started with baked goods, punch, and a puppet show hosted, as always, by Dr. Fizz and Boomer the Rat. The puppets asked the audience about their holiday traditions and sang Christmas carols. In case you missed it, Boomer likes all things cheese during the holidays.
Neil made reindeer balloon animals and other festive creations. He also taught the kids how to shape the balloons as well — all from his high-altitude position. He even made balloon creations upon request during the final hour of the event.
The final hour was a whirlwind … kids could get a custom balloon creation from Neil, get their photo taken with an elf straight from the Detroit Parade Company, and let their creativity fly. BPL’s Repurposeful Librarians organized an ornament and craft workshop on one side of the room, and we hosted a gift making and wrapping workshop, bringing back some favorite materials (like making your own LED-illuminated holiday card and using paint pens to create a one-of-a-kind glass votive holder) and adding some new ones (like decorating chalkboard frames for loved ones).
After everyone was done decorating and crafting they wrapped their gifts at the gift wrapping station with Caroline so they could give it to someone they care for later.
When we weren’t creating things, we enjoyed admiring Beulah’s decorated holiday windows, doing a little holiday shopping from local artists, and cheering on the holiday parade. It was a wonderful and creative weekend.
We started off another great year of partnering with Benzonia Public Library with a day of photography workshops.
The University of Michigan School of Information photographer Jeffrey Smith was our professional mentor for the day. Jeff has visited Benzonia before as a photographer and videographer for Making in Michigan Libraries, but this was his first time giving a presentation. He did a marvelous job! In fact, Benzonia’s director Amanda McLaren tells us she just ran into someone from the weekend workshop who was still raving about it days later!
Jeff’s session was broken up into two parts. The first part was on Saturday morning from 10 to 12 where he explained tricks for taking high quality photos on a smart phone. Such tricks included holding your fingers down on the screen to lock focus, moving your finger up and down on the screen to adjust exposure, and using the volume buttons while in the camera app to take a picture. After he showed a few tricks for taking photos he then went on to demonstrate how to edit photos on your smartphone with an app called Snapseed and everyone got up and moved around to try it out!
A break was given for lunch and then patrons met up in downtown Beulah for the photowalk! The photowalk gave individuals with smartphones and more standard digital cameras a chance to practice their skills and learn about perspective, light, framing, etc. from a professional photographer.
Jeff took patrons on a walk around town in unexpected places. Our first stop was near a dumpster behind a building. Jeff explained that although this would not typically be viewed as a great photo opportunity the bright blue color and texture of the wall led to stellar shots. It just required a matter of framing things so that the dumpster didn’t show.
Our next locations were the top of a high hill that overlooked a few rooftops with a view of Crystal Lake in the background, shooting from behind weeds on a beach because layers help make a better image, and capturing action shots of seagulls. After the photowalk the group headed back to Benzonia Public Library for a tutorial on editing photos on a computer through Photoshop. The event ended with a showcase of the beautifully shot and edited photos taken on the walk!
It was a wonderful way to spend a Saturday — trying to view the world in a new perspective. If you want to see more photos from the event feel free to check out our album on twitter here!
Check out this video, made by Jeff Smith at the University of Michigan School of Information, to learn more about our partnership with Northern Michigan’s Benzonia Public Library and our pre-Halloween Costume Creation Challenge!
Please join me for a free Booklist webinar, sponsored by Cherry Lake Publishing, on Thursday, October 20, 2016, at 2pm Eastern / 1pm Central.
Here’s what I’ll be talking about:
Primary-aged children are natural makers. They couple their imaginations with the physical and digital worlds as they poke, prod, push, pull, pixelate, and produce. Whether using digital tools, circuits, robots, or recyclables, many of the core questions are the same: What is our role as facilitators of maker mindset and purposeful exploration? How do we set up spaces that welcome creative interactions with materials and peers? In celebration of the launch of the Makers as Innovators Junior series for K-2 students, Cherry Lake Publishing invites you to engage with these concepts and build or refine your vision for playful thinking. Presented by series editor and University of Michigan School of Information faculty member Kristin Fontichiaro and moderated by Books for Youth editor Dan Kraus.
You can register here. If you cannot watch the webinar live, an archive link will be sent to you a few days after the live event.
We had a wonderful workshop at Pickford Community Library from June 20th to 22nd. Special thanks to Ann Marie Smith, director of the Pickford Community Library, for inviting us to her library and hosting our activities, with a special mention to Chris Smith and his talk on his use of Arduino microcontrollers in educational projects ranging from aquaponics to lightsaber design(!!!).
We also explored a number of other hands-on making activities to explore first-hand what it’s like to be a maker in a learning environment. We certainly weren’t teaching these people to be creative, but we were helping them think about creation in a new way. From board game design to squishy circuits made of conductive dough, we enjoyed a wide variety of creative activities in the activity space in the same space as the Friend’s Bookstore at the Pickford Community Library.
With attendees ranging from local artisans to middle school teachers, ISD executives to recent art-school graduates, it was one of our most diverse, exciting groups so far. With such a creative community we knew in advance that the maker activities would be some of the most creative and varied that we had seen, and we weren’t disappointed. People especially enjoyed hacking (that is, modifying) the simple LED flashlights that we made together into something unique to each participant.
The squishy circuits creations were highly creative and varied as well, ranged from prototypes for wearable light-up shoes to an exploration of switches made of various colors of dough.
We kicked off our first three-day workshop June 15 – 17 at the Houghton Lake Public Library. Thank you to Kimberly Young, library director, and Sarah Maddox, youth librarian, for hosting us!
From designing the ideal work bag to making playdough circuits light up, making robots run to talking about making for those with special needs, 3D modeling and printing to designing our mission, we had a great time in this deep-dive into the why and not just the what of making.
Here is some of what we learned from our peer participants:
Making can be a way for those with disabilities to show what they can do.
Shifting kids from adult-directed activities and into open-ended, student-directed activities can be tough!
Prototyping is a lot of fun (and can even inspire the occasional runway show)!
Putting people with different jobs but similar missions together can create synergies.
Some people have really interesting hobbies at home (quilting, making log furniture)!
Hands-on skills can lead to real jobs.
We even got to meet (or see again) some kids and families at our community-focused Houghton Lake MakerFest. Not only could families see a 3D printer in action, make a marble maze, play with LEGO and K’Nex, make a Shrinky Dink souvenir, drive a robot, or make a Squishy Circuit, but they could go outside to see the mobile science lab from Saginaw Valley State University. There, they could peer into the microscopic world of butterflies and water; see the SVSU drone; learn about soil and other environmental testing; and meet some skilled professors eager to share their world with them.
The Making in Michigan Libries project hits the road on Wednesday, May 4, from 2:30 – 4:30pm, partnering with the Houghton Lake Public Library to help residents modify and create charms for a Mother’s Day key chain. Hope to see you there!