Creators and Inventors in Year 1

I have had the absolute pleasure of watching our Year 1 students become inventors. The unit of inquiry for this term is ‘Creators and Inventors’, and the students are inquiring into the central idea, ‘Creativity and imagination can inspire purposeful innovation’. As part of this unit, students become inventors and have the chance work with a variety of materials and tools. After exploring how imagination and creativity can inspire invention, students will get to spend time in our Junior School Maker Space. 

In my time in Year 1, students were introduced to electricity, soft materials, hard materials and tools, and creating and inventing with boxes. And they got to have a go at being innovators. And I must say, they did it well!

A huge THANK YOU to the Year 1 teachers, Mr Calvert, Ms Chapman, Mrs Page-Wood, and Mrs Scoones for inviting me in and for modelling what it means to be creative, innovative inventors.


From open and closed circuits, to fuses, to making helicopters and buzzers the Year 1 students got to explore electricity through using Brainbox electronics kits. Before having a go at creating, students spent time talking about what they knew about electricity and what it was. They also spent time talking about what it meant to be an inventor after watching the animated film Soar. They came up with some amazing principles for being an inventor including:

  1. Keep Trying
  2. Being Open Minded
  3. Being Kind
  4. Helping Others

Students were given the challenge to try and figure out how to create a circuit that would make a lightbulb turn on. By the end of the lesson, they had figured out how to make flying helicopters and machines that buzzed. Loudly. And they loved it!

Soft Materials

What is a hard material? What is a soft material? Can soft materials be strong? These (and more) questions were explored during the soft materials lesson. Students were introduced to engineering and sewing. They made newspaper rolls that, when constructed together, can actually be very strong. A concept that was mind blowing to some of the Year 1’s.

Students also got to experience sewing – many for the first time. The creativity in this simple activity was stunning. Seemingly straight sewn lines became a bed, and for one they became a contrail. Yet another wrote out a message for his mum and sewed this message for her. Their level of engagement was incredible.


Hard Materials and Tools

Moving from soft metals students got to have a think about what hard metals are – and they got to use REAL tools, like hammers, tape measures, and even saws! While most students had seen these tools at home, most had never been allowed to use them. When they learned they would be pounding nails and sawing wood they were in disbelief (and I’ll admit, so was I! The mum in me was a bit panicked at the thought of hammers and fingers).

Seeing the sheer determination of some of the students to drive a nail into a board was inspiring. The smiles on their faces at their success was unforgettable. They were so proud to have been trusted to use real tools and even more proud with how they could actually use them.

Creating and Inventing with Boxes

I’m sure we’ve all experienced the frustration of giving a child a gift, only to have him or her play with the box more than the toy inside. Well, in this lesson, these students got to invent with boxes as much as they liked.

After watching a video about Caine, a childhood inventor, who created his own video arcade, students talked about inspiration and how inventors use inspiration, their imagination and creativity to make new inventions. They then got the chance to be inventors themselves and make an invention from cardboard boxes. I was in awe of their thought process, creativity and their inventions. We had a horse whose head could move, complete with a fence. A teacup because this chap wanted to be like his parents. A museum with Peter Rabbit painted on with glue and a flying boat! Yes. All out of boxes.


The next step for these Year 1’s will be to become inventors in the Junior School Maker Space. I cannot wait to see what they tinker with, become inspired by and what they will invent and create. Stay tuned. There’s definitely more to come!

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