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Toymaking is an 8-session series in Big Learning's KID (Knowledge-Infused Design) after-school curriculum. It's designed for children in grades 2 through 4.


Packed with Big Learning: Your young toymakers won't just learn science they'll take command of it. Each week students learn new techniques for building bright, sophisticated moving toys. Students make classic mechanisms from scratch including wheel and axle assemblies, cranks, and springs. With materials that are easy to work with and tools that are safe for kids, your young toymakers can construct amazing toys.

Students learn about catapults
in history and levers
in science as they launch
acrobats they've built
No "cookie cutter" projects: Every task engages children's creative energy. Every child's project is unique. Design choices pull kids into the learning experience.


Supports school and life success: Every project pulls together wideranging knowledge and skills. For example, in the Folk Toys project, students learn about folk toys around the world and find the countries on a map, use a compass to measure circles to make a folk toy, design an optical illusion for a spinning folk toy, and learn the elements of the human eye that make the illusion work. Most importantly, every session builds life skills including problem solving, persistence, creativity, artistic competence, communication, and teamwork.

Highly engaging: Kids can't resist our combination of real-world learning and design-based curriculum. Every task engages children's creative energy, and every child's project is unique. Students use great tools and materials, including hand-powered drills, wood, and wire. Students see the relevance of new knowledge because they put it to work immediately.

Designed with busy staff in mind: Projects use materials right out of the box. Our Teacher's Guide maps out every lesson in detail. Learning goals are right up front, and background information, teaching strategies, and assembly instructions are right where you need them. Full-color posters, student instructions, and take home sheets make for lessons that stick.

Typical Class Session

1. Big Learning KID Discussion (5-10 minutes): The class begins with a real world-based discussion of the structures and building principles for that day. For example, before building balloonpowered cars, students examine wheel-and-axle mechanisms in a variety of vehicles and learn how Newton's Laws of Motion apply to balloon power.
2. New building techniques (5 minutes): Next, we demonstrate the techniques students will use to build their toys.
3. Building, playful testing, and problem solving (40 minutes): Kids build their toys and test them by playing with them. They are guided in finding solutions to design challenges and building creative enhancements.
4. Cleanup (5 minutes)
5. What did we figure out? (5-10 minutes): Students share their work and discuss what they learned while they worked.
6. Going home: Teachers go over the take-home materials, which include a review of the day's concepts and vocabulary, plus additional activities and resources for students to share with their families.

Typical Projects
Session What we make Big Learning
1 Springy Toys Types and characteristics of springs; scientific function of springs (storing energy).
2 Bobblehead Toys Skeletal structure and joints; using anatomy to make accurate models of creatures.
3 Spinning Turntable Sculptures More anatomy; using a compass to draw a circle; sculptures that tell stories.
4 Folk Toys (Button Spinner and Climbing Bear) History of toys; forces and motion; optical illusions; using a compass to draw a circle of a given size; measuring in inches.
5 Lever Acrobats Levers; projectile motion of weighted objects; Newton's Law of Inertia; Archimedes
6 Rubber Band Gliders and Spinners More about springs; making wings that work; Wright Brothers history
7 Crank-Powered Flyers Building crank mechanisms; centripetal force; art techniques for making eye-catching flying objects
8 "Art Car" Balloon Buggies Wheel and axle machines; storing energy; Newton's Third Law (Law of Reciprocal Actions); application to rocket engines and balloon cars