Post by Alison Earnhart, MakerSpace Maven
Of my favorite things about teaching at Acera is the chance to run Creativity Wednesday sessions each week. It’s a fun time to extend beyond my “usual” academic subjects and share other passions and interests with students in an environment that fosters exploration. Origami has always been an interest of mine — I won’t say “talent”, because I don’t think I’m that great at it. But I love doing it, and I find it to be an incredibly centering activity. It allows me to focus on one simple thing, and it’s definitely a form of meditation and stress relief for me. As an engineering teacher, I also understand and appreciate the deep connections origami has to mathematics, design, and stimulating the regions of our brains responsible for spacial relations and 2D to 3D thinking. So when it came time to decide on what I wanted to do for my Creativity Station, I knew I wanted to combine my love for geometric logic with my love for mindfulness and self-care, so I created “Chill Origami Café”.
Chill Origami Café is open to both upper and lower school students, and we meet every Wednesday morning. Before class starts, I brew a big pot of herbal tea and select some calming music and visuals to project. We’re very lucky to be based in Ms. Renee’s room, which she’s decorated with the most lovely and comfy furniture and lots of plants — the café vibe is definitely there! We keep the lights low, and our group norm is that we refrain from talking, or speak softly in our “library voices”. We have a huge array of different sizes and kinds of origami paper, from very basic solid colors to fancy holographic designs, shiny metallic paper, and hand-made traditional paper from Japan. Students quietly sip tea and explore creating designs on their own or in small groups, aided by an assortment of instructional books and YouTube videos on iPads. Everyone works at their own pace on items that they choose to make, taking home their creations when they’re done.
Wednesday mornings have become a time that I look forward to all week. The students seem to really love it too, and I hope it provides a time for them to practice quiet focus and discipline while stimulating their spatial thinking abilities. As students fold fantastic creations, I look forward to posting photos of them here in the MakerSpace blog.