For two years, I was the Technology Specialist at a school in Georgia. During that time, I amassed a large collection of websites that I use with my students. You can download my E-Book of Websites for the Elementary Classroom for free from Teachers Pay Teachers or Smashwords, or, you can check back here each week for the website suggestion.
Looking for some experiential learning activities for your students to work on over the holiday break? Try out DIY.org. A friend of mine recently suggested this amazing website to me for my personal children. She described it as “virtual scouting”, which is pretty accurate. Kids can work towards earning badges on any variety of topics by submitting photo or video “proof” of activities they complete.
In order to get started, children must have an account linked to an adult account. This could be left up to individual families or could be created as a teacher account. Once children have accounts, they explore all the different skills that might interest them, like art, athletics, building, business, hacking or science. Each skill has different badges available for children to earn. For example, within the skill of art, you will find badges like actor, painter, leatherworker, papercrafter, photographer or puppeteer.
For each badge, there is are 6 – 12 possible challenges. Children must do 3 or four challenges to earn the badge. For example, if you are working on the badge of puppeteer, you can choose to do things like make a hand puppet, develop a voice for your puppet, make a movie with your puppet or create a marionette.
For each challenge, there are links to photos and videos from different members who have completed this challenge. Additionally, there are How-To videos from YouTube showcasing professional who have created similar projects. For example, if you are working on the ‘make a hand puppet’ challenge, there are videos of how to sew a hand puppet and how to paint your hand as a hand puppet.
Once children complete their challenges, they must upload a photograph or a video of their project. These photographs or videos are evaluated by someone on staff before they are posted on the website and before the children are given credit for it on their badge. However, the turn around is quite quick and generally within 24 hours their activity is posted. Once it is posted, other members can “favorite” their activities and even leave comments. Students collect their badges virtually, but they can receive real patches in the mail if their adult chooses to order them (for a $4 a patch).
This website was suggested to me as way to give my children a “scouting” experience while we are full time RVing and moving around the country. However, it is really an amazing site for anyone looking to make a solid virtual/ hands on connection. It also allows students to build skills and work together with children around the world. This website is perfect for homeschoolers, especially unschoolers, but it would also easily be included into standard classrooms. It would be a great spring board for 20% Time or Genius Hour. It would also be fabulous for early finishers or indoor recess. Additionally, it would be great to send home over the holiday break as “homework” along with a reading log or an online book report. It’s a simple and easy way to keep kids learning and engaged in topics that are interesting to them.
How could you use DIY.org in your classroom?