About

About

Welcome to the Strawbees Learning Platform

This site is a virtual oasis for innovative teachers who embrace hands-on learning with Strawbees. Please come in and explore our digital home for lesson plans, activities, and support materials designed to help you and your students thrive!

This platform is here to equip you with the teaching resources and mindset you need to enhance student learning with Strawbees. To help you integrate this project-based approach in your classroom, each lesson guides you through what the Lifelong Kindergarten group at the MIT Media Lab calls the ‘Creative Learning Spiral’: Imagine, Create, Play, Share, Reflect.

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Based on years of feedback and iteration with teachers, each lesson includes:

  • Recommended activities that build on specific skills and concepts
  • Guiding questions for students
  • Behavior management ideas to help you shepherd group dynamics
  • Suggested activity times
  • A list of learning objectives to help with assessment (open to modification)

Strawbees lesson plans can be used as-is, however they also invite innovation. These lessons are agile and we wholeheartedly encourage creative adaptations of the curriculum. They are meant to be informed starting points for you to meet the unique needs and interests of your class. Try new things, build on these ideas, and share what you discover!

Please note: regardless of the activity time suggestions, we encourage you to allow as much time as possible for students to iterate their projects as they travel through the Creative Learning Spiral. It’s important for children to have flexibility in working at their own pace.

Why the Creative Learning Spiral?

There is tremendous power in hands-on project-based learning that encourages students to imagine, create, play, share, and reflect together with the guidance of a caring teacher. The research and success of the Lifelong Kindergarten group at the MIT Media Lab has inspired our pedagogical approach, with a particular emphasis on the 4 P’s of creative learning [3].

It is essential for us to cultivate creative thinking in younger generations, which is at the heart of Creative Learning Spiral (CLS) projects. In addition to preparing them for an ever-evolving job market [1], we want to live in a world where children “...must learn to deal creatively with uncertainty and change - not only their work lives but also in their personal lives (how to develop and sustain friendships in an era of ever-changing social networks) and their civic lives (how to participate meaningfully in communities that have ever-shifting needs and boundaries).”[2]

Through creative and collaborative project-based learning, this is exactly what our Strawbees lessons aspire to do.

Understanding the Strawbees Mindset

Strawbees is not only about making things, but the environment in which they are made. We want to create a learning environment that helps children engage in projects that reflect their ideas and how they see the world. This is readily done through student-centered projects that invite children to explore the variety and versatility of what Strawbees has to offer.

Over the years we have delighted in observing how children play with our materials, creating devices out of Strawbees that can stand, move, spin, glide, or even walk across the floor. Students enjoy the ease and flexibility of these materials, playfully experimenting with what their own hands can create.

With a colorful rainbow of connectors and construction pipes spread across the table, students are sometimes inspired to build small and immensely complex creations; other times, they are inspired to build large lightweight structures that eventually have to migrate to the floor for more space. We have seen children cast spells with magic wands made out of a single construction pipe attached to a 5-leg Strawbees connector, while other children (when challenged with the same build) bent the connector’s leg to make a claw, eventually becoming a back scratcher. A simple tetrahedron can become a hat or the start of a catapult; a small polyhedra can become part of a giant Sierpinski pyramid. The possibilities are endless.

The beauty for teachers is that most Strawbees basic builds require little or no instructions or guidance. Basic builds are all about exploration and experimentation. When children have the opportunity to discover these structures for themselves, it becomes theirs. Even when prompted by questions, kids entirely own their hands-on discoveries. This makes the learning experience more personally engaging, rewarding, and memorable.

This is the kind of learning environment and empowered mindset we want to help you create.

Our Vision of Success

A successful classroom with Strawbees is a dynamic and collaborative playground with opportunities for students to interact, experiment, and create overlapping projects. Designs can evolve from a stationary catapult into one that walks, or from a mechanical arm into a tetrahedron-inspired creature. In this imaginative space of making and playing, children refine their creative thinking while building projects they care about.

Success is defined by seeing your students fully engage in the Creative Learning Spiral. When students are excited to learn, demonstrate a growing understanding of new knowledge, and improve skills such as collaboration and problem-solving through CLS projects, this is the ultimate achievement. Success is seen in students’ process of learning with Strawbees over a final product.

Connecting Our Community

Our lesson plans embrace a wide range of activities that can be scaffolded to a variety of complexities. Because our lessons are agile and invite modification, there is much that our community can learn from one another.

Email us at education@strawbees.com to share ideas, lessons learned, and stories about Strawbees in the classroom. You can also connect with other teachers and share your Strawbees experiences through our Strawbees Facebook group. We are excited to find out what you create - thank you for being part of our world-wide learning community!

References

[1] J. Philipp Schmidt, Mitchel Resnick, & Joi Ito, (2016). Creative Learning and the Future of Work, Chapter 10.

[2] Resnick, M & Robinson, K, (2017). Lifelong Kindergarten: Cultivating Creativity Through Projects, Passion, Peers, and Play.

[3] https://learn.media.mit.edu/lcl/