A reflection on the Mind and Makerspace experience

Mind and Makespace (MAM) experience – Charlotte and Anna

Our reflection will be based on our experience working with Spanish and Belgium students at the Mind and Makespace (MAM) which is a space that allows for everyone to have creative freedom. Whilst we were there we were able to support the children and take photos of their creations. The children were arranged into mixed groups of students from each country. In the first activity, the students started off by discussing what would happen if cities around the world flooded. In their groups the children were then given a country and had to discuss what would happen if it flooded, what would be the problems. The children discussed together what problems their city could face and wrote their ideas on post-it notes and added to a grid. The children then took their initial ideas and turned them into the main themes coming up with sub-themes for their ideas. For the second activity, the children took the ideas they had come up with on the gird and together chose the ones they thought were the most important, discussing why this was the case. Then on another sheet they stuck the problem post-it notes down so they could come up with a solution to the problem. After this, the children then swapped their paper with another group who came up with an additional solution, swapping it once more to another group for them to come up with a third solution. The groups then identified which was the most important problem their country would face.  

During the first activity the children listened to the session, which was in English, when they wrote on their post-it notes this was also in English. When the students were having their discussions, they spoke to each other in a mixture of English and their own language. However, the students did tend to talk to their peers from their country the most rather than interacting with the children from the other country but occasionally did speak in English. The children also spoke in English to the members of staff from the MAM and to us and the rest of the English students, however, they were timid about starting the conversation but when taking they got more confidence asking for help on how to say certain words or how to spell words in English. Some of the children were a lot more confident than the other children. This was a very good opportunity for the children to work together with children from other countries and to communicate with each other in a different language to their native language to discuss real world problems and come up with solutions together.

For the third activity of the day the children were given play-mobile figures for them to use when making a model of the solution to their problem. In their groups the children then brainstormed on a piece of paper what they wanted to make their model on, which solution, and what materials they wanted to use to make their model out of. Once they had come up with a plan the children then got to work on making their models of the solution to their identified main problem using materials such as wood, foam, bottles lids, newspapers, magazines and paint, cutting, gluing and cello-taping things together. The children then shared what they had made with the rest of the children.

In these activities the children were becoming change makers as they were identifying the problems their city would face if it flooded and worked together to come up with solutions to solve the problems which is an important life skill. The children were also able to work as a team with students from different countries which helped with their communication skills and aided in the collaboration to become change makers and together find solutions to problems in their environment.

Overall the session went very well the children were enjoying working with each other and talking about the activities. They particularly enjoyed the creative side of things such as the drawing and making. However, the children did tend to speak to their peers in their own language and although they were happy to talk to other adults and the MAM staff they did not always speak with the children from the other county.

This experience was really eye-opening to us because it gave us the opportunity to experience what it would be like for an EAL student in the classroom which links to our university course. As we did not understand the children’s native language we needed to communicate with them in English, but making sure we were clear so the children could understand us. We ensured that we explained things in simple easy terms and spoke clearly. We also made sure our body language was approachable by smiling at the children and not having our arms folded to look as approachable as possible as body language crosses language barriers.  It also gave us the opportunity to work with other adults from different countries to communicate to help in the session and gave us even more experience working with children. We really enjoyed the session and working with the children although we did feel a bit nervous and lost as we did not always understand what was going on and had to read the visual cues and body language of the children and staff. Helping out in this session really helped us to improve our confidence and ability to adapt on the spot which are important life skills.


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