Sunday, December 16, 2018

KEVA Planks Bring Joy & STEAM To Our Global Gingerbread Projects In Van Meter, Iowa!

Something new has come to Van Meter that has brought so much joy to our young builders.  
They are called KEVA Planks and I can't tell you how awesome the excitement has been around these incredible wooden planks. 
Two weeks ago at the NJASL, New Jersey Association of School Libraries, Conference in Long Branch, New Jersey, I had the honor of meeting Dr. Ken Scheel and his lovely wife, who were there demonstrating and exhibiting his invention, KEVA Planks. 
They can be used for so many things from free play and building, to tying into literacy and parts of the curriculum, 
to using the Brain Builders and... 
....3D KEVA Challenges, to so much more within Makerspaces, libraries, classrooms, homes and anywhere building and creativity can take place too. 

You can check out all of the KEVA products here
I loved meeting them, because one of the first things that caught my eyes at the conference was this giant tower built from KEVA planks. In fact, Ken built it on site! 
Here are a few interesting facts about what makes KEVA planks so unique from their site.....Every piece is the same. KEVA planks are about 1/4 inch thick, 3/4 inch wide and 4 1/2 inches long.
You build structures by simply stacking the planks. No glue, no connectors. They can be stacked upright which looks like it would be unstable as a house of cards, but even this type of structure is surprisingly stable. 
Children discover the joy of creating original works of art or cleverly designed contraptions. Creativity brings joy into the lives of humans which is why the arts are so important. At the same time, future architects and engineers are discovering their aptitude for building at an early age. Young KEVA builders today will be building our world in a few years.

After talking with Ken and seeing the KEVA Planks for myself, I couldn't wait to bring these to our school and to all of the students at Van Meter. 
Then last Monday a BIG surprise arrived at our school.  It was from our friends at KEVA Planks and we couldn't wait to start building! 
When I was thinking about a way to tie the KEVA Planks into our activities in the library this month, I thought about all of the gingerbread activities we have been working on in the library and classrooms to tie into the 2018 Gingerbread STEM Community and Makerspace Global Project and...
Laura Murray's wonderful Gingerbread Man stories.
Our second graders even Skyped with Laura, and my sister Heather Fox and her students in Amana, Iowa, last week.
Our kindergarten, first and second graders have created their very own Gingerbread boy or girl based off of her sweet little Gingerbread Man character....
...and have taken their Gingerbread boy or girl to places around the world, after researching countries and holidays in Capstone's PebbleGo, creating passports and using...
 ....the greenscreen DoInk storytelling app.
Our 3rd and 5th graders are creating video games using Bloxels with a gingerbread and holiday theme. 
Our 4th graders are using CoSpaces, Merge cubes and goggles to create virtual reality gingerbread houses. They even Skyped with CoSpaces and Merge to kick off the project....more on this amazing project in an upcoming post.
And our 2nd graders are creating gingerbread digital stories in Buncee with characters, stickers, animations and backgrounds they brainstormed with our friends at Buncee. You can read all about this Skype connection and project here.
Then one of the amazing Maker Maven STEAM Challenge activities popped into my head that I saw earlier in the day on their Facebook page.
Can You Build A House For A Gingerbread Man? would be perfect for the KEVA planks with all of our elementary students in grades K-5.

You can read all about the Can You Build A House For A Gingerbread Man? activity here, which includes this adorable little sheet for students to brainstorm, collaborate, create and reflect throughout the STEAM project.
We took this activity and instead of real graham crackers and frosting, we used the KEVA planks instead. 
Being one of dozens of schools around the world participating in the 2018 Gingerbread STEM Communities Global Project, we could even share these KEVA creations on social media and our blog using #GingerbreadSTEM.  Our students would love this!
Let me know you what we did and the amazing houses all of our students built for their gingerbread boys and girls!
Jessica, my teacher librarian partner, and I printed off the cute little posters we found here and....
...put them on each one of the tables where the four groups would meet. 
We included the activity sheet (that I showed above) so they would have a place to brainstorm,
write and draw out the house they would build out of KEVA planks...
 ....for their gingerbread boys and girls.
We loved seeing how creative they were and....
...the cooperative, collaborative and fun work that was taking place.

When they finished brainstorming, each group got to work at four different stations filled with KEVA planks around the library.
We loved watching them bring their ideas and gingerbread houses to life. Everyone was unique.  
As each group finished their KEVA plank gingerbread houses, the smiles on their faces and....
....excitement to share what they had imagined, 
and built, 
for their Gingerbread boys and girls were...
...the best! 
Not only did these accomplishments mean the world to each group, 
they meant the world to each student too!  
They were building something for their gingerbread characters and something they were very proud and excited to be part of. 

They knew their creations and stories would also be shared on the global hashtag #GingerbreadSTEM with others around the world, so this made them even more motivated to create and share something awesome and unique.

We saw imaginations grow and come to life with the KEVA planks.  We can't wait to see what they will bring to our library, classrooms and community all year long!

Thank you again Ken and everyone at KEVA! You have created something very special for our learners and communities.  We can't wait to connect and have you meet our builders soon. 
You can read all about KEVA Planks and find out more information about using them in libraries and education here

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