Projects using toys are immediately engaging for students, and can provide surprising learning opportunities. Our first grade class had a whole unit on toys; they took apart toy cars to learn about how they worked, built tops (while learning some basic physics concepts), and designed new toys from scratch using a variety of materials.
Fun fact: here at the Creativity Lab, Making isn’t just about making things. Making is also about learning to see the world with new eyes, and developing deeper knowledge and understanding of the world around us. One of the ways we incorporate this idea is through using Agency by Design’s thinking routines. Educators can easily integrate these routines into any subject — even those not typically associated with making, like the Humanities. The first routine, called Parts, Purposes, and Complexities, (PPC) is a great one to start with, and is applicable to physical objects as well as abstract ideas and constructs.