Makerspace Learning Through Play! by Sharon Mwende

Play is vital for development and education as it allows children, youth and adults the opportunity to use their creativity while developing their imagination, physical, cognitive and emotional strength. In the Kenya Connect Makerspace, we provide a supportive environment for learners to experiment, work together and learn through making. This also involves making games for fun too! Recently, my students did a guided activity on how they can create their own game using materials that are easily available. The activity involved learners between PP1 and grade 8 who really enjoyed working and playing together. They learned various lessons in the process and had an opportunity to actually think and share about different ways the materials presented to them can be used to make a game. They made good guesses!

How good is your aim! They created the ring toss game using paper plates to make the rings, aluminum foil tube to make the stake, cardboard for the stand. They connected the foil core to the cardboard using hot glue. The paper plate rings were created of different diameters. They took turns tossing the ring into the stake/tissue paper core. It was great fun!

We tried aiming with the ping pong toss game using plastic party cups and a ping pong ball. In two teams, they placed the same number of cups on each side. Each participant on both sides took turns aiming a ping pong ball into a cup. The team that exhausted the cups on the opposite end won. Students said they could try it the next time using water or juice

Can we play with a balloon without using our hands? We used yarn and balloons of different colours. Students created a web and used a game where you mention your favorite colour, food etc before you threw a ball of yarn to someone else. The trick was to ensure that the web was spaced enough to hold the balloon and bounce it without using your hands. Students worked together to ensure the balloon doesn’t fall and also close up any spaces that made the balloon fall. Afterwards they just played with the balloons as they normally would (throw and catch)

“Let’s see how good we are at working together!” I said. To experiment this, we used straws and different colour construction paper to play a straw sucking game. Students cut evenly sized pieces of blue and pink construction paper and numbered them 1-50. Paired into two groups, they helped one another identify the numbers in order and one player would suck the paper and carry it into a bowl. They took turns doing this and the group that finished first was the winner.

We also tried working together in a game we made using toilet paper tubes and yarn. The students organized themselves in 2 groups and on one end, I placed the same number of tissue cores. They worked together to ensure they passed along all the tissue cores from one end to the other. They first team wins.

This activity helped students learn how teamwork can make work easier and faster, how we can take care of our environment by upcycling different materials such as cardboards, paper plates, tissue cores. The students also learned easy ways you can make your own game and play by yourself, with family or friends. In addition to this, they learnt the essence of turn-taking by giving each other an opportunity to play. Since the activity was all inclusive, they learnt that helping one another is good and so is asking for help whenever you feel stuck. The upper grade students helped lower grade students in playing. They also got to learn new terms such as ping pong, stake, base/stand, ring toss and what they mean.