FABClassroom Spotlight: Arrowwood Elementary

From the library to the classroom, Arrowwood Elementary is a FABschool. Earlier this year the neighborhood school in Douglas County, CO added Fab@School Maker Studio, a digital design and fabrication program, to its STEAM curriculum. Recently, Dana Palmer shared a bit about how students are using the tool and the plans for the future.

As a STEM/STEAM teacher can you share a bit about the importance of introducing STEAM concepts in elementary school?

I was the "tech lab teacher" for the first 8 years of my career - straight tech lab activities devoid of creativity did not help students develop a deeper understanding of concepts. I found students cutting and pasting information from the internet directly into PowerPoint and calling it "technology integration.” They were unable to explain concepts in their own words; they were unable to relate concepts to their lives or other applications. With the hands-on creative approach of STEAM that I use, students are highly engaged and have a much deeper understanding of concepts.

How are the students at Arrowwood Elementary School using Fab@School Maker Studio?

We are at the starting stages - our older students are creating manipulatives for younger students. We reworked an old lesson that used straws and pipe cleaners to make 3D prisms with Fab@School Maker Studio prisms created by students.

For our older students, they are learning to be creative and do for others-creating something another student will use to learn has been really exciting for them, and the younger students are receiving top quality manipulatives made by school mates.

What has been the “aha” moment?

When I looked at last year’s "prisms" compared to this year’s it is evident that they are accurate- having accurate prisms allowed students to better understand planes, vertices, etc...

They got the "correct" answer quicker and were able to understand the correlation between sides, vertices, etc..

What is next?

Looking to create a fabrication center in our library - great software - easy to get started with and reasonable equipment prices will make this a reality much quicker than I thought possible.

Is your classroom a FabClassroom? We would love to feature your school! To be featured in an upcoming post, send an email to info@fablevisionlearning.com. You can also tweet your photos with the hashtag #FabMakerStudio! For more posts featuring Fab@School Maker Studio, click here.

Peek Inside the Mind of Peter H. Reynolds with his Latest Book Happy Dreamer!

The following post was written by New York Times bestselling author/illustrator and FableVision founder, Peter H. Reynolds. His new book Happy Dreamer will be released on March 28, 2017. You can pre-order the book through the Blue Bunny bookstore, here. 

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My book, Happy Dreamer was originally called Amazing, Delightful, Happy Dreamer. And yes, the initials do spell: ADHD.
The first spark of the book ideas were inspired while attending a learning difference conference at Harvard University where successful CEOs shared their challenging learning journeys in school, making it clear that their achievements were made because of their brains, not in spite of them. It was pointed out by the panel host that this group had all described attributes of ADHD as children. Those attributes sounded very familiar to me.
I thought for a moment, "I wish ADHD sounded like something you'd WANT to have!"

I took a pencil and wrote...

I went home and wrote a poem by the same name and that poem ultimately became this book.


I wrote Happy Dreamer for kids (and grown up kids) like me. This really is my story. A peek inside my mind to share how my brain works in its own wild and wonderful way.
It wasn't always easy having a brain like mine though. While I was never officially diagnosed with ADHD (it was a term that would not be used widely until a decade after I was in elementary school) I do believe that as a child I had experienced many of its symptoms.
I wanted to send out a hopeful message that kids who are diagnosed with ADD or ADHD that they have a gift, not a label. That their minds are very special. That they are "delightful dreamers." Their brains are capable of being flexible, generous, nimble, and inventive. Their kind of thinking is to be understood, nurtured, accommodated and CELEBRATED!
Growing up, I was dreamer. A day dreamer. Night dreamer. I had a super-charged imagination which kept my brain very, very busy. SO many ideas which was probably the impetus for me grabbing a pencil and starting to capture these thoughts and images on paper with words and art. Outside of school, it really wasn't a problem. I grew up in a big family. Seven people roaming the house doing chores, hobbies, but at night we would gather together at the dinner table to share stories. It was a busy, noisy house and I loved it that way. All the energy and buzz. In school, however, it was a different story. I found it a bit of a shock to stay put in one chair for most of the day. Learning to focus on the lessons were sometimes a big challenge for me. I was not encouraged to capture any of my racing thoughts on paper. I was in fact, discouraged from doing it.
"All eyes up front."
"Mr. Reynolds, do not draw in my class. You can do that after school."
"This is math class. Not art class. Put that away."
I was an agreeable, friendly kid eager to please, so I did my best to comply and control my buzzy-brain. It was not always easy. Every so often, I found a teacher or an activity that tapped into that special brain of mine and WHOAH! Like my 7th grade math teacher who asked me if I could teach math by using art, story and animation. It was magic. I was in my element. It was an AMAZING feeling. Happy. Delighted. My Dreamer brain was engaged—and I was ME.
I hope this book speaks to you, your family and friends. May it reassure you that good things are ahead for all us dreamers.
And in fact, I do believe that if we are to solve some of the planet's biggest problems—we can't keep trying the same solutions. We must invite inventive, flexible minds to the table. World problem solving aside—if this book encourages my readers to simply be happy with themselves, then I'll sleep—and dream— better at night.


In the Boston area? Join us for Happy Dreamer book release party at the Blue Bunny Books & Toys, on Saturday, April 1, 11-1 p.m, located at 577 High St, Dedham, MA 02026. For more information, click here.

For inspiration on how to bring Happy Dreamer into your classroom, check out the Happy Dreamer Classroom Kit.

FabFriday: Shape your Story Ideas with Fab@School Maker Studio

Storytelling is the most powerful way to put ideas into the world today.
— Robert McKee

The best of us, and the rest of us… it’s rare that any story will emerge fully-formed. Ideas usually come bit by bit and often rely on inspiration and spontaneity to develop. Physical objects can help tactile and kinesthetic thinkers manage their ideas. For this FabFriday, we jump into Fab@School Maker Studio to create story dice that enhance the creative brainstorming process.


Step 1: Building the Cube

Let’s get started by constructing a cube net in Fab@School Maker Studio. Not sure how to begin? Check out the Cube Net Step-by-Step Project for an introduction to creating 3D cubes. For more tips on creating 3D geometry with Fab@School Maker Studio, read our 3D Geometry Guide.

Step 2: Adding Story Elements

Now that we have the basic cube net laid out, let’s add storytelling elements to each face of the cube with the Text Tool and Library Images.

Place text onto your cube by opening the Text Tool on the top toolbar and then clicking on the page to create text boxes to type in. Add clip art by opening the Library on the top toolbar and selecting art to place onto the page.

Tip: Turn off the Magnetize tool so the text boxes and images do not snap automatically to the edge of the squares.

Step 3: Design Glue Tabs for Assembly

Your students can choose to either tape the edges of the cube together, or add tabs for glue. The Cut Fold Tab tool is perfect for adding tabs. When working in the classroom, students will often ask me where they should put their tabs. My favorite response is “everywhere!” For this cube, students can put tabs on every edge and then tear away the ones they don’t need when they are assembling.

There is also another solution inside the program - the 3D Viewer! Encourage your students to use the 3D Viewer to help visualize how the cube will fold and which edges will touch each other. You will want one tab for each pair of touching edges. Here are two possible tab layouts - there are a lot more out there to find!

For information on the how the Cut Fold Tab tool works, check out the Cut Fold Tab Tutorial Video.

Step 4: More Cubes!

Now that your students have constructed their first cube, let’s duplicate the design onto another page to make more.

With the Select Arrow, click and drag a box around the entire cube to select it and then click Copy. Create a new page with the Add Page button on the bottom toolbar and, on the new page, click Paste to place another cube.

Invite your students to add actions, nouns, and transitions to their new cubes. The story possibilities are endless!

Step 5: Print, Fabricate, and Assemble

When your students are ready to “roll” with their design, follow the Fabrication Quick Start Guide to create the physical paper cube.

Hot off the press, it’s time to assemble the dice and roll out a new story!


"We thought it was over when the Dinosaurs stole the Statue of Liberty... BUT THEN-"


Do More:

But Wait, There’s More! Constructing 3D shapes is a moderate challenge, but it is always possible to apply these ideas to a simpler design. Try making 2D story cards instead of 3D shapes, or try designing a moving object like a spinner wheel for an extra twist.

Classmates can work together and combine their creations for an extra boost of inspiration, or even incorporate their objects into a storytelling game!

How is your classroom using Fab@School Maker Studio? We'd love to share YOUR tips and ideas! Send your photos to Patrick@FableVisionLearning.com or Tweet them with the hashtag #FabMakerStudio for a chance to have them featured on the next FabFriday! For more FabFriday posts, click here.