MakerSpace was great on Sunday, August 9th. I had been looking forward to cutting up stuffed animals and sewing the parts together to make new, made up creatures, and I was not the least bit disappointed. For those of you who don’t know, MakerSpace is a concept being adopted by many Asheville schools and other programs for kids. As the name suggests, it is all about making and creating, whether it’s through cooking food, making arts and crafts, building and inventing stuff, etc. My Unitarian Universalist church’s RE program (religious education, a UU’s equivalent to Sunday school) does all sorts of different MakerSpace activities over the summer. August 9th marked the third time I’d helped out with MakerSpace this summer. The first two times, I helped with cooking activities, something I hope to do more of with kids.
Cooking was fun, but August 9th was the first time I got to see just how creative these kids are. They are in grades kindergarten through sixth, and they all came up with the strangest, silliest, most original creatures to make with old stuffed animal parts. Some of these chimeras were: An elephant with the body of a teddy bear, a squirrel with bat wings and a dog’s head, a horse with a penguin’s head and purple monkey arms (wearing a panda mask no less), a penguin with a dog’s head (with hair pretties on her ears), a dog with a monkey’s head and antlers, a penguin with a polar bear head, a guinea pig with a teddy bear’s body and corduroy bear legs (I helped cut that guinea pig’s head off), a bunny with a teddy bear body and a frog’s leg for a tail, and a vampire bat; a long stuffed animal’s leg that’s been made into a baseball bat with a face and sharp teeth. The kids seemed to really enjoy making these creatures. Needless to say, I think they also enjoyed cutting up old stuffed animals. The leader of this activity even encouraged them to start the session with an evil laugh! These funny, creative kids were a pleasure to work with. I got to hang out with some of them after we were done.
Here are some of the quotes from me, the kids, and the other MakerSpace teachers I wrote down while we were doing this:
“Who wanted the bunny head?”
“Here’s a bunny body for whoever wants it.”
“I’m cutting off his ears!”
“Let me find a head for you.”
“Hey, that’s my body! You have a penguin body!”
“Somebody lost a tail.”
“Here’s a purple arm.”
“Did somebody take the guinea pig feet?”
As these quotes suggest, this was a fun, creative, hilarious, somewhat evil session in MakerSpace. Most of the kids loved it and took home the stuffed creatures they made, with two exceptions that I know of.
There were two little girls who didn’t enjoy this session. One of them is the daughter of the woman I usually ride to church with. She knew it would be too traumatic for her to see stuffed animals get chopped up, so she didn’t even go. There was another little girl who went and did the activity, but didn’t want to take home her stuffed creature. That was OK, though, because I had brought a teddy bear for the kids to chop up, but before we started, this child decided he was too cute for that and asked if she could take him home. I said yes. So I guess she saved the life of at least one of those animals. Some of the other stuffed animals didn’t get cut up at all. There were also lots of leftover heads, limbs, tails, and bodies, which I imagine will be used when we do this again next summer. If I’m in charge then, I’d tell the kids to try their best to use the body parts we already have before cutting up more stuffed animals. We will always need more animals for this, though. I will too, because I’m going to try doing it myself. I wrote down the basic supplies I’ll need, and maybe people can help me sew the parts together. Maybe someday I’ll post my own pictures and directions for making stuffed toys this way.
Anyway, MakerSpace is almost over. Next week we’ll be making chalices (the Unitarian Universalist symbol) out of clay, and we will end the summer with a garden party. Then it will be time for regular religious education, where I will be telling stories and helping with more hands-on activities. I can’t wait to be trained for those two things!