RAFT Activity Kit: Static Merry-go-Round

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Economical Activities and Supplies for Teachers

Not only am I a fourth grade teacher at Lomita Park Elementary School in Millbrae, I also frequently train other adults to be more effective and creative Cub Scout leaders. I present ideas monthly when I facilitate the District Round Table meetings where Cub Scout leaders come together to share ideas. This is my fourth year as part of the Western Region National Camping School staff where leaders are trained as Cub Scout Day Camp Directors, Program Directors and Staff Advisors. I can’t begin to count how many times RAFT has been the perfect answer to whatever I was facing.

As an elementary teacher, I regularly use RAFT kits as part of my science program. Many of the kits are just what the kids need to bring a concept to life. For example, our science text book includes an Investigation where groups of students build an electric circuit using a D-battery and a relatively expensive flash light battery. My first year at fourth grade, I didn’t have very many of the supplies needed for this Investigation. It seems that many teachers did not have the supplies either so they just showed the publisher-supplied video of the Investigation. I know from experience that kids learn best by doing. At RAFT, I found a very economical Bread Board Circuits kit that each kid could use to build basic, series, and parallel circuits. Even better, each kid could take the kit home to explain and demonstrate the circuits to family members. The kids (and their parents) think this is pretty cool. So do I. I can’t teach this Unit any other way.

In Cub Scouts, RAFT is also the answer. Not sure how to help scouts work on a concept for an achievement? RAFT has many kits that correspond with many of the scouting achievements. There is even a chart to help you match them up. Not sure how to present a difficult concept? RAFT has Idea and Tip Sheets that may get you through. Need supplies for a project (Neckerchief Slides, Genius Kit, you name it)? RAFT probably has it. For example, I was working with a group of leaders on a Knights of the Round Table theme. One of them wanted to make neckerchief slides shaped like a knight’s helmet. The problem? She didn’t know where to get the 50+ film canisters she needed. No problem – RAFT usually has them by the bagful. I am going to pick them up for her this week.

RAFT is the answer for the many supplies needed for teaching and leading kids to a better understanding of math, science, and innovation. RAFT isn’t just stuff though. So many of the new teaching ideas I am using to achieve the Common Core State Standards I learned about in the Summer Institutes and many classes offered at RAFT.

Julie DiMaio, RAFT Fellow, 4 grade teacher, and Cub Scout trainer