Boxitects, by Kim Smith, is a book about Meg, a brilliant and creative child who can make masterpieces out of cardboard! Meg is so talented her mom decides to send her to Maker School. There, Meg meets Simone, another Boxitect, and the two creators don’t exactly get along. The story highlights the importance of collaboration and teamwork, as well as thinking “outside the box” (*ahem*) when considering what materials can be used to create works of art. This is a perfect book for teaching and learning online as it reminds children that they can use simple materials they already have at home to build and create with!
Click here to visit Kim Smith’s website to learn more about the book: https://kimillustration.com/index.php/portfolio/boxitects/
I discovered Boxitects because it was selected this year in The Forest of Reading shortlist for The Blue Spruce Award (for Canadian picture books for children in Kindergarten to Grade 2). The Forest of Reading program is run by the Ontario Library Association and aims to spread the word about new and wonderful Canadian books and foster a love of reading. Readers of the books are encouraged to vote on their favourites, and winners are chosen based on votes cast. I always find The Blue Spruce award-nominated books to be wonderful resources for teaching. If you are interested, you can visit the Forest of Reading website to learn more about this year’s shortlisted works as well as lists from years past: https://kids.tpl.ca/ready-for-reading/books/booklist/blue-spruce
After reading the book, we watched the video above to find out why cardboard is such an excellent material to build and create with! In the video, the author of Boxitects, Kim Smith, demonstrates why corrugation makes cardboard so STRONG! She also talks about how much she looks forward to seeing what the children will make with their cardboard and asks for us to send her photos of our creations – something my students were particularly excited about!
After reading the story and learning about carboard corrugation, we gave the children a challenge to create something (anything!) with the cardboard they had at home. Since we are learning remotely, it was important to me to provide my students with plenty of material options for this project. We talked about using carboard boxes used to ship parcels, shoe boxes, cereal boxes, egg cartons, and even paper tubes! Prior to the lesson, I asked our families to gather their materials so the children would have them ready for exploring. I also asked the children to bring their science notebooks (sent home in their remote learning kits) so they could work on drawing a plan or brainstorming ideas about what they could make prior to building.
And then they were off! Our Boxitect challenge was listed on this week’s choice board, which meant the children had all week to work on it. Each day, as children finished their creations, we spent time during Reflection sharing and talking about them. There was such a variety of ideas presented: from houses, to boots, to robot costumes, to airplanes! I began compiling photos of the children’s creations in our special “Boxitect Gallery” slides. My Twitter timeline has been filled with amazing ideas for teaching remotely this year, and the “Art Gallery” idea (originally posted by Kenrick DeoDat – @KenrickDeodat) has to be one of my favourites! My students are incredibly motivated to send me photos of their art works and creations when they see that they’re going to be displayed in a beautiful “art gallery” or “museum.” The art gallery is a way of highlighting the work the children are doing and communicating that what they learn and create is special and has value. At the end of the week, I posted our Boxitect Gallery on our online classroom for everyone to see.
Online learning in Kindergarten can be a challenge. I’m always looking for ways to give the children opportunities to play and create as they would if they were in person at school. This Boxitect challenge reminded me of the kind of excitement we would experience in our regular classroom – the children excitedly talking about what they could make, drawing plans in their notebooks, and getting creative with materials.
If you would like a copy of the Google Slides I prepared for presenting this to my class (including a copy of the gallery ready for editing), click on this link and “Make a Copy” for yourself: https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/19sAoUsLa6HPZ8wAAhuJfWd7Frvk_HU6mGG2Y3jhqN5E/copy?usp=sharing