Do you love Lego? How about your school library users? I bet they love Lego. If you are like me and love having hands-on activities in your school library or makerspace, you probably want to have some Lego. But it can be extremely expensive and hard to buy in bulk. I had the incredible Mel from St Joesph’s Nudgee College recommend Bricktastics to me and I am so grateful she did.
What is Bricktastics?
Bricktastics is an Australia company that sell second-hand Lego. The buy and source pre-loved Lego, sort it into packs and then sell it. They cater specifically to education settings with their bulk packs, and donate to education and children in countries who need it. They have also launched their own Bricktastic Bricks. While based in Australia, they do ship internationally.
Designing T-Shirts in the Library with the Cricut
A fun activity I’ve run this year was designing t-shirts with our Cricut machine. I’ve it with two class groups and will extend that to a lunchtime activity and after school activity once we have our new space next year.
I love our Library’s Cricut machine. I even convinced the Design Tech department that they needed one, so now I have two to use.
Designing t-shirts is so easy with the Cricut machines and the end products look great. I loved how quickly my students picked up the design, cut and heat process. Once they got the basics down, they quickly started attempting more detailed designs.
Which Cricut machine is right for my school library?
Are you wanting a Cricut machine for your school library? Maybe you’ve heard others talk about how helpful they are or the displays they’ve created with a Cricut. Maybe you already have one and are wanting to upgrade. If you are not sure if a Cricut machine is right for your school library, you might like to start with my Cutting Machines post, where I explore what a Cricut is, what you can do with it and why you might like one for your school library.
But, if you are ready to purchase and just not sure which machine to choose, read on.
I love having a Cricut machine in my school library. Over my time in school libraries I have had and used all the different types of machines, from the very early and now outdated Expression, to the tiny but powerful Joy and the super Maker 3 and a few others in between.
In this post, I’ll explore the current Cricut machines and help you decide which one you should purchase for your school library.
Which Cricut machine should I choose?
Well, you are spoilt for choice. Don’t forget, Cricut is a brand. There are other cutting machine brands out there. You might like to explore what Silhouette offer. I’ve always used Cricuts, so I’ve always stuck with Cricuts.
Cricut currently has three main cutting machines – Joy, Explore and Maker. Cricut also produces heat presses, mug presses and other tools.
Badge Making in the School Library
This term we launched our new Create program. Part of our Connect, Coach, Create initiative, Create is all about getting students hands on with their learning and exploring in the school library. Think makerspace, craft, baking, anything that gets students, staff and our school community, well…, creating.
Our first Create event was badge making. I wanted to start with something fairly easy (and not too messy). With our current, temporary space that is fairly limited, I knew the activity also needed to be easy to set-up and pack-up.
Refurbishing a Cricut Machine
I have been fortunate to have a Cricut machine in each of my past 3 libraries. I love them. I love getting creative, love how these machines can make displays, signage and crafting activities easy. So, I was excited and – let’s be honest – relieved when my new library said they had a Cricut machine.
However, I was a little shocked when the Library team mentioned that they didn’t use it and found it easier to cut things by hand. Seriously? That didn’t make any sense to me. It only took the first time me getting it out to use it to understand where exactly they were coming from and why they were finding it so frustrating. I found it frustrating! It took longer than it should and even making a simple project wasn’t easy. Why? The machine had been given to the team without the proper tools and with no training or instruction. The mats were old and either had left over paper struck to them or had lost their stick altogether. And the team had only ever been told to use it with an iPad rather than on a desktop. It was like trying to use the machine with our hands tied behind our backs. Completely impractical and a waste of time.
Thanks to having used a Cricut before, I knew what it could and should be like. And I knew I could refurbish the machine to make it fun and easy to use. Here’s what I did.
How to update a machine
If you’ve decided to purchase a secondhand machine or have inherited an older machine for your library, here’s a few simple steps and tips to get the machine running again smoothly and so you can enjoy using it.
These tips are not going to help a machine that isn’t functioning properly – I leave that to someone with technological and mechanical knowledge, but these should help you get the basics of the machine working well.
Not sure if a Cricut is right for your Library? Check out my post Cutting machines in the Library which goes into the pros and cons.
School Libraries and Student Learning: A Guide for School Leaders – Rebecca J. Morris – Harvard Education Press – Published 4 August 2015
Innovative, well-designed school library programs can be critical resources for helping students meet high standards of college and career readiness. In School Libraries and Student Learning, Rebecca J. Morris shows how school leaders can make the most of their school libraries to support ambitious student learning. She offers practical strategies for collaboration between school leaders, teachers, and librarians to meet schoolwide objectives in literacy, assessment, student engagement, and inquiry-based learning.
Topics include: establishing “makerspaces” and “learning commons” to support student-centered learning; developing a schoolwide focus on literacy across multiple formats and devices; redesigning lesson plans that foster inquiry and critical thinking across classrooms and grade levels; supporting collaboration between teachers and librarians in instruction and assessment; and using the library to strengthen ties between school, family, and community.
As a librarian I am always eager to learn more about the amazing profession I find myself in, how school libraries are changing, and how this should reflect practice. I also love learning about what other school libraries are doing. School Libraries and Student Learning by Rebecca J Morris is a wonderful resource for school librarians and school leaders. It covers a huge range of topics, from the fundamental principles of libraries and librarians, to specialised spaces within the library or learning commons, as well as guides, checklists, and real-life school examples.
School Libraries and Student Learning is written for school leaders. It seeks to highlight the importance of school libraries, school librarians and the way in which these are both integral to an integrated school learning system. There are eight chapters, as well as a school library checklist appendix.