I just watched ‘Elf’ with Will Ferrell for about the 100th time this weekend.

I love the scene with all of the elves hurriedly making and assembling toys to pack into Santa’s sleigh days before the holiday.

Which gave me an idea…

In the 5 days before the holiday break, instead of watching holiday films, why not transform your classroom into a toy making shop??

Pictured above is one classroom that did just that.

They made holiday toys for children who were suffering from long term diseases at the nearby Children’s hospital. The only requirement for the toys? They contain a motor, a switch, and represent something that a peer their age might actually want.

This PBL experience has NO minimum or maximum age parameters. Everybody loves toys right?!

Pictured below is one of MakerSpace extraordinaire Emily Burk’s high school students in Anna, Texas who made a holiday gift for his parents.

Not feeling that ambitious? Have students design holiday cards 💡. Or stitch/sew customized stockings 💡.

Here’s an idea for how to set up your holiday toy making shop:

  1. Get a bunch of materials (if low on $$, use recycled materials)
  2. Reconfigure your classroom according to toy building stations according to these materials or potential toy designs
  3. Place some whiteboards or flip chart paper near each table, and some pens for students to ideate designs
  4. Divide students into small groups and have them pick a station and start constructing
  5. Create a table for ‘Testing and Quality Control.’ These students can test the toys and offer feedback before being delivered

This can be a 2 hour to 5 day PBL experience. It’s up to you. It’s guaranteed to make your students smile, and it just might be the best way to build momentum for deeper PBL in the New Year!

Here’s to your toy making shop!