Like little shopkeepers ready to sell their wares, third-grade students from Fairwood Explorer Elementary eagerly set up stands outside and inside Book-a-Saurus on Murphy Avenue Nov. 2 in a unique opportunity to present their toy and literature projects to the public in a book and toy store setting.
As part of their project-based-learning, about 80 third-grade students interviewed neighborhood preschool students about what types of toys they liked best, crafted a toy to meet their audience’s wants and then wrote a book about the toy as well.
Over the course of a month, students interviewed preschoolers about the types of toys they liked best. From those conversations, the third-grade students spoke with a local toy expert on the prototype process and then set to designing a working model.
“We talked about perseverance and the refinement process,” said Principal Jeffrey Bryant, who served as the local toy expert given that in a previous career he was a merchandise manager for FAO Schwarz.
Models were shared with the preschoolers and the third-grade students received feedback on their efforts. This process occurred several times until the third graders finalized and produced toys for their audience.
They each were then instructed to write a book with the toy they created as the main character.
“This project was amazing for all of my learners,” said third-grade teacher Allison Sanders who helped initiate the project. “There were kids that would normally be a little more timid about finishing their projects but when it came time to decorate their books they just dove right in and their images in their stories just came to life. You could see that their toy was their main character.”
Sanders said students worked on a lot of narrative writing, having to peer edit and make sure they include dialogue and strong vocabulary and transition words and talk about lessons that their characters learned at the end.
“And then they had to work on experimentation and design as they worked on different prototypes of their toy,” Sanders added. “All important life skills.”
Christina Rodriguez, a parent of two Fairwood students, said the project was a great exercise in communication and keeping in mind what the customer wants.
“What’s great about the Explorer program at Fairwood is that they are able to just work on things without limits,” Rodriguez said. “They can come up with anything they want. My son was able to do two projects in one, which I thought was really cool. He really enjoys working with his peers and I love that they get to explore their creative sides. It’s a lot of fun for all the kids and a lot of it is hands-on, which I didn’t get when I was a child, so I’m grateful for that.”
To learn more about the Fairwood Explorer program visit http://sesd.schoolwires.net/fairwood or call (408) 523-4870.
Article by District Communications Coordinator Alia Wilson and Fairwood Explorer Principal Jeffrey Bryant.