Getting "Messy" with Fab@School at the ED Games Expo

In a room filled with amazing virtual reality stations, impressive mobile apps, and science simulations, we were the “messy table.”

On Monday, Jan. 8, FableVision Learning joined hundreds of game developers at 5th annual ED Games Expo hosted by the U.S. Department of Education at the The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in DC. The expo was a chance to showcase learning games developed through The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program to students from the DC area.

We discovered that in this digital age, youngsters were drawn the tangible. Our table was the busiest of all! Why?  We were there to demo Fab@School Maker Studio, an online tool where students design with 2D shapes to create nets that when fabricated using a digital cutter become 3D objects.

The perk - it is all done with paper.

I was inundated with students all lining up to answer one simple question: “What do you want to make”?  Everytime the answer was different.

  • “What do you mean… make?”
  • “A house.”
  • “A car.”
  • “A Mickey Mouse face that has stars instead of circles for ears”
  • “What can I make?”
  • “I want what she made, only different.”

The challenge was on and it was only 10 a.m.

Students picked a piece of colored cardstock, mounted it on a sticky mat, and patiently waited for their turn.

A fourth-grade girl was excited to create a dodecahedron - she just loves shapes. But wanted two sides to have a cut-out of a star. This was simple - by dragging a star from the shapes pallet onto her design she was able to see her idea come to fruition digitally and after 50 seconds though the digital cutter - she was folding her geometric shape.  

One girl wasn’t impressed with the sunglasses she was wearing and wanted to create her own. As a group of young engineers we examined what shapes were used in the construction of the glasses.

“Maybe two circles with two more circles in the middle to see,” one student suggested.

“Now we need a rectangle to make them connected,” another added.

At the end of the design phase, we had a pretty nifty pair of sunglasses with very long arms. Back in Fab@School, she used the ruler tool to accurately create the perfect pair of sunglasses.

There were oohs and aahs from all folks of ages when the students snapped pulled together six squares and watched as the program’s 3D viewer showed how the shape would fold. One exhibitor remarked that Fab@School was unique because you create 2D nets to create 3D objects instead of building in a 3D environment and having the program flatten it.    

Toward the end of the afternoon, teachers were giving the five-minute-until-the-bus-leaves warning to students that had been there for a good part of the day - designing, creating, and getting messy.

We left tired but excited to know we had inspired a few more future engineers.

FABClassroom: Oak Ridge School Students Construct a FAB Paper City


Meet Carly Smith, Art and Technology Teacher at Oak Ridge School. Carly fuses creativity and innovation together every day with her students to program robots, create stop-motion animations, and design in Fab@School Maker Studio.


Can you share a bit about your school and your teaching journey? 

I am lucky enough to teach in the elementary school that I attended as a child, so working here feels like coming home. I am in my 8th year at this school and have worn many different hats, from special education teacher to technology integrationist and my current role as a specialist teacher teaching both art and technology. A typical day is never typical! Each day is different and that’s what I like most about my role. My technology classes are working on building computational thinking skills by coding robots so my morning is lots of troubleshooting and runaway robots. My art classes are operating on a choice-based curriculum so in the afternoon I feel like a “creativity coach” teaching mini-lessons, managing the space, and meeting with student-artists.

How are your students using Fab@School Maker Studio?

My students used Fab@School Maker Studio to create houses as part of an architecture project we did last year in art class. We looked at different types of buildings and the students designed their own to become part of a “Paper City." They created everything from monuments, to tent camping sites, to skyscrapers and one student even recreated the Eiffel Tower! After the buildings were fabricated the students used LEDs and coin cell batteries to light up the city. After this first project, some students used the software again to create stencils for an apparel design screenprinting project.


 What has been the “aha” moment?

I discovered Fab@School Maker Studio at last year’s MassCUE conference. I was so excited the first time I used it because the options are limited only by the imagination of the designer. The software is the perfect combination of “kid-friendly” without being limiting. I had wanted to bring 3D printing into my classroom, but felt that my students’ experience would be diminished due to the expense of the filament and the time the printing takes for each item. Seeing how fast the paper cutter works combined with the affordability of the paper and cardstock made this so doable for my students and me. My PTA generously purchased the licenses and the paper cutter for my classroom and we began using it with Chromebooks last spring.

How are you integrating Fab@School with your current school curriculum?

This year I am hoping to expand the use of the software by having technology classes fabricate “cars” or “boats” that will be driven by the robots we are learning to program. The robots are waterproof so hopefully students will be able to design and program them to drive on dry land or be propelled through water. Check back with me in a few months and we will see how this grand plan comes to life!


As an Art/Tech teacher you really put the A in STEAM- can you share a bit about your role at Oak Ridge and how you incorporate arts with technology?

I am always looking for new ways to incorporate technology into the art curriculum and vice versa. The technology and art curriculums overlap in so many ways because creative problem solving and the design process are so critical to both content areas. In addition to the 3D design work they have done with Fab@School Maker Studio, my students have used software to edit photos or create unique compositions, iPads to create digital artwork, and digital cameras to learn about perspective, create illusions in photography as well as stop-motion animation.


This year we are experimenting with green screens to add interesting effects to our photos and videos. I find that my job is evolving to the point where I am putting students in the driver’s seat and empowering them to come up with ways to creatively use the technology available to them. I try to learn as much as I can about each tool or device so that I can help to guide them and troubleshoot problems. Often students know what they want the technology to do, and just need help getting there. Experimentation can sometimes feel scary because the teacher has to give up control, but the results are usually far beyond what I would have thought of or expected!

What is next?

I am excited to continue to connect with educators who are using this software because the sharing of ideas is so valuable. I would love to add a second printer so that more students can fabricate within a single class period (wish list item!). I am also open to bringing the software to other teachers in my district as part of a possible makerspace to be built. With this and other technology tools I will continue to be inspired by the creativity of my students!


Get Involved

Is your classroom a FabClassroom? We would love to feature your school in a blog post! To be featured in an upcoming post, send an email to You can also share your Fab@School Maker Studio creations and ideas on social media with #FabMakerStudio! For more posts featuring Fab@School Maker Studio, click here.

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Teacher Spotlight: Christine Eaves, Animation and Technological Innovation at Village School

This blog post was written by Patrick McDonagh & Adrienne Poon, FableVision Learning marketing interns. 


Christine Eaves is the Innovation & Academic Technology Coordinator at Village School in Pacific Palisades, CA, where she designs curriculum to equip her students with skills to become lifelong learners and makers. She is using FableVision Learning’s Animation-ish to guide student inquiry, quickly connect STEAM educational concepts, and help kids create bravely.


“I sometimes have kids who are reluctant to begin because they don’t think they are great artists, and they’re embarrassed to try,” she says. “I remind them [students] that the program is called Animation-ish for a reason. It doesn’t have to be perfect. In fact, the less perfect it is, the more it usually ‘animates,’ and is even more fantastic. Kids are always surprised at how great their work turns out when they ignore their fears and just try.”

The FableVision Learning team connected to Christine to learn more about her school, the work her students are doing with Animation-ish, and how she incorporates STEAM concepts into projects.

1) How have you incorporated Animation-ish into your curriculum?


Over the years, I’ve tied Animation-ish lessons around lots of curricular areas. I sent Peter [H. Reynolds] some cool 2nd grade Advanced-ish projects last year, in which kids took Van Gogh's Starry Night as a background layer, and then animated it in a foreground layer.

I’ve also had students do animations about different science lessons in which cycles take place (life cycle, caterpillar to butterfly cycle, water cycle, seasons, etc.). Right now, my students are just learning how to use Animation-Ish, so they currently are just creating stories of their own design.

Soon, I’ll be starting an after-school class here at Village called Flipbook-it. In this class, students build a motorized device that runs a flipbook that the children create themselves, either with 24 frames of photography (or 5 seconds of video), or 24 frames of animation. Many of the kids use Animation-ish to create their Flipbookit content. We decorate the Flipbook-it housings as well, so it’s really quite a wonderful maker project.

2) Do you have any tips for teachers to introduce Animation-ish? How should they start?

I think I’m successful at Animation-ish because I actually use it myself. The more you use it, the better you can teach it. Start creating some of your lessons in Animation-ish. Export those to movies and put them on your teacher webpage. Add animations to your presentations for Open House or Back To School Night. Animate your own personal logo. There’s so many ways to gain experience before teaching your students. They’ll learn better if they truly see you as an expert.

3) How has Animation-Ish affected your students’ conceptual interpretation of design?

Creating an animation is more than just being able to draw something others will recognize and appreciate. The animation artist has to first think of a story, or come up with a cycle or sequence of events that they want to animate. Then, they have to think about HOW they will achieve that animation ... There’s a lot of preparation and thought involving animation creation prior to getting started. I like seeing my students plan out their work and then get started.

4) Can you describe a memorable moment in the classroom using Animation-ish?

My second graders recently learned how to use the tablets and Animation-Ish for the first time. I had them try the tablets on the desks first. Then, when they seemed comfortable, I asked them to try holding the tablet against their chest or in their laps to see if it felt more natural drawing from that angle. One of my students was so comfortable with the tablet in his lap, that he put his feet up on another chair, leaned back, and just drew. He looked so cute like that and so at-ease. I told him he looked like a professional artist who’s been doing that for years. Later, I heard him tell a classmate that he was a professional. I liked his confidence and I liked that he believed me.


5) Can you share tips and tricks for getting students excited about animation?

In my experience, it’s not hard to get students excited about something that I’m truly excited about. We all would prefer to learn from teachers who love what they’re teaching … I’m lucky that I teach a field that changes all the time. It never gets stale and my lessons always feel new to my students and to me, even when I’ve taught them for years.

I think that brings a natural enthusiasm that’s easy to create and maintain … I’m lucky to have a job that really makes me feel fulfilled at the end of every school day and I can honestly say that I truly love what I do because it lets me be my best self. My school sees the value in having teachers with varied skills and talents, and we try to help children discover that they are the same way.

Get Involved

Already creating your own Animation-ish masterpieces? Share your work on social media with #AnimationIsh and send us a message at if you want to be featured in a blog post too!

But Wait, There's More! 

Want to learn more about Animation-ish? Fill out the contact form below and a FableVision Team member will get back to you.

Name *
I would like to learn more about *

Peter H. Reynolds to Be Honored with the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award


The Boy Scouts of America and National Eagle Scout Association have announced that FableVision founder and renowned children’s book author/Illustrator, Peter H. Reynolds, is being honored with the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award (DESA)

The award ushers Reynolds into an elite cadre of fellow Distinguished Eagle Scouts, which includes political, business and creative luminaries such as President Gerald R. Ford, Neil Armstrong, Steve Fosset, Gov. Dukakis, James Lovell, Sam Walton, James Brady, William Hanna, J. W. Marriott Jr., and Steven Spielberg.  

Reynolds earned the award for his “extraordinary national eminence in his field, as well as his strong record of voluntary community service.”

In addition to writing and illustrating nearly 50 influential children’s books (his most famous book The Dot has been published in over 30 languages, and is celebrated each year in a global event called International Dot Day, which has reached over 10 million students and teachers in 170 Countries), Peter H. Reynolds also founded FableVision Studios to help fosters creativity and self-expression and move the world to a better place through “stories that matter, stories that move.”


“As a quirky, creative kid, scouting gave me a safe, supportive environment where I could develop my skills, talents, strengths and leadership,” Peter shared. “I really can credit the Scouting program for giving me the confidence to pursue my dreams, which is why I’m so happy to see so many supporting these critical programs for boy – and now girls. Every child deserves this kind of solid foundation to help them navigate their future success.”

FableVision will proudly cheer our creative champion as The Boy Scout of America Spirit of Adventure Council present the award to Peter at the 41st annual “Salute to Scouting” gala at The Westin Copley Place.

WCVB TV Anchor Randy Price, himself an Eagle Scout, will serve as master of ceremonies.  This signature Boston event attracts hundreds of scouting supporters, including business and civic leaders who aim to expand Boy Scout youth development programs throughout the Greater Boston area.

41st Annual Salute to Scouting

When: Thursday, November 30th at 6 p.m.

Where: The Westin Copley Place

Register to attend!

FableVision Learning Intern Spotlight: Patrick's Fab@School Maker Studio Journey

Hello FableVision Learning friends and fans,

Allow me to introduce myself - I am Patrick McDonagh, a marketing intern at FableVision Learning studying English Creative Writing at Endicott College. The gamut of work at FVL challenges my formal degree skills in a fun professional learning environment.

Now at the end of my internship, it’s time to put the lessons I’ve learned into action. I have been challenged to create an easy-to-build Fab@School Maker Studio project for kids ages 5-11 for construction in a library setting. The result of this challenge, after many iterations, is a turkey mask designed in Fab@School Maker Studio and ready to debut at the Dedham Public Library.

Make A Mark


I will be honest, my first iteration of the mask did not resemble a turkey. I set out to work on my laptop early in a Peet’s Coffee tinkering with the software tools for hours trying to find shapes to form my vision. Coffee fueled my design, frustration, and perceived failure - my goal was perfection. I used the oval shape tool for feathers, then dragged and manipulated shapes for the turkey's snood. I asked a neighbor what animal they thought I had made. The response was unflattering.

Create Bravely

TurkeyMaskDesign2 [Crop].png

For my next iteration, I focused on what I had done well. In my hours of welding and manipulating shapes in Fab@School Maker Studio I grew more familiar with the tools. I made a first mark in the creative process. I paused to assuage my initial frustration by focusing on what I had learned. These were my notes:

  • I achieved a stylized and symmetrical 2D turkey shape by modifying Shapes with the Reflect, Align, and Weld features.
  • Used the Ruler, Grid, and Magnetize tool to visually interpret dimensions and distance between objects and snap them together.
  • Developed an understanding of each individual piece’s form and assembly across a project with multiple sheets of paper.
  • I saved helpful design elements for later by positioning them on the outer edges of the edit area.
  • Fabricated often and attempted assembly to refine project design across multiple iterations.

The first test mask I fabricated measured five inches in width. Only after I fabricated a mask that barely covered my face did I know it needed resizing. Supplies for Fab@School Maker Studio are inexpensive enough that I was able to incorporate fabrication into my prototyping process. I realized it didn’t need to be perfect right away.


I felt more at ease creating without the inhibiting goal of perfection, and instead shifted focus to simplifying the design. Each remaining shape needed a critical purpose. Project refinement is a productive exercise for students forming foundational knowledge of iterative design and fabrication with Fab@School Maker Studio. Transitioning from concept to a recognizable design was exciting.

This is the final product. I am proud to share my mask in Fab@School Maker Studio as a 3D Ready-Made project for students, teachers, and makers to fabricate.

Get Involved

Are you in the Dedham area? Join us on Thursday, Nov. 16, at 3:30 p.m. at 43 Church St. for a hands-on Fab@School workshop. Remember to #CreateBravely!