Did you know that the author of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy was not only a master storyteller, but also a prolific Doodler?
J.R.R. Tolkien was an avid illustrator who took care to bring his storytelling to life with vivid drawings. In fact, for Tolkien, storytelling and illustration were artforms that were deeply interwoven. The characters, world maps, and scenery in his stories were largely influenced by his drawings, which he created as he drafted his famous tales. In addition to his drawings of TheLord of the Rings scenes, he also created pictures to accompany the tales that he told his young children.
Tolkien began painting and drawing very early in his youth, and he continued to make art throughout his life until he passed away at the age of 81. His preferred mediums were watercolor, pencil, ink drawings, and of course, calligraphy pens. His awe-inspiring calligraphy work is central to The Lord of the Rings universe, and is seen in the elegant Elvish language that he created before he even began writing his epic tales.
"“Many children make up, or begin to make up, imaginary languages. I have been at it since I could write.”"-J.R.R. Tolkien Share
J.R.R. Tolkien was also diligent with archiving his work. He kept nearly every doodle he made in a catalog of envelopes, no matter if they were well-thought out drawings or spontaneous scribbles on scrap paper. He would revisit his catalogue of drawings and doodles to gather inspiration as he wrote his stories.
"“Myth and fairy-story must, as all art, reflect and contain in solution elements of moral and religious truth (or error), but not explicit, not in the known form of the primary ‘real’ world.”"-J.R.R. Tolkien Share
In the year 2000, a collection of Tolkien’s artwork spanning about 6 decades of his life was published into a work known as J.R.R. Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator. The book is filled with many of Tolkien’s illustrations that were kept in his personal archive, including depictions of Middle Earth, elvish script, and imagery from the scenes of his tales.
Tolkien lives on as one of the greatest authors of all time, and his books were adapted into some of the most critically acclaimed films to date.
Are you inspired by the works of J.R.R. Tolkien? Share your thoughts with our community on social media!
“Do you have any lessons where you find student engagement to be down? This is a great place to offer an activity with the 3Doodler pens. It can be the smallest project, but it will give new life to the lesson in the learners’ eyes.” -Velvet Holmes
In this Blog
Meet Velvet Holmes, District Technology Literacy Specialist from Oregon School District in Wisconsin.
When Velvet seeks increased engagement in her classrooms, she brings out 3Doodler pens.
Explore three new lessons written by Velvet, two for grades 3-5 and one for grades 6-8.
Velvet Holmes, district technology literacy specialist, believes it is her role to encourage learners to take risks and think outside of the box.
We had the opportunity to speak with Velvet about using technology in the classroom. In the interview, she shares tips on keeping students engaged, and as a bonus she has created three low-prep lessons that you can start using today.
Thanks so much for meeting with us, Velvet! Can you please tell us about yourself, your district, and a quick snapshot of your goals?
"“It is important to me to be a strong female role model for my learners that are interested in STEAM. Most of my focus lies in Computer Science and coding, where the female voice is missing.”" Share
I have been an educator for 25 years, the past 22 serving in information technology literacy in the Oregon School District of Wisconsin.
My role is district wide, so I work with K-12 staff and students to integrate technology meaningfully into their classroom curriculum.
I am passionate about encouraging learners to take risks, even if it means they fail.
That failure teaches them. I often answer questions with a question.
Students feel frustrated sometimes, but it helps to walk them through a thought process. Once they know I will not give them an answer, they take the time to problem-solve and build confidence as they answer their own questions.
It is important to me to be a strong female role model for my learners that are interested in STEAM. Most of my focus lies in Computer Science and coding, where the female voice is missing.
How do you use 3Doodler pens in your student activities?
"“Giving learners immediate power to create is priceless.”" Share
I invested in a few 3Doodler Start pens several years ago, and now I have a full cart of them! Giving learners immediate power to create is priceless. In a world that is so busy, it is nice to put a 3D pen in a student’s hand and let them quietly take the time to express themselves.
We do a project called “City X” which is about building a community away from earth.
Each citizen in the community has a different problem. Each person has to come up with an invention that has not been created, and students use the 3Doodler pens to make a prototype.
In Math, they build a community of stores with the 3Doodler pens, create a budget and work to find the area and perimeter of the store.
When using the 3Doodler pens, the students are quiet and happy Doodling.
The 3Doodler pens are amazing tools for mental health and being in one’s own mind. Students are inspired to create by seeing other Doodles, too!
Do you have any tips you can share with our 3Doodler EDU community?
"As you move through the design process, the 3Doodler pens are great tools for students to mock up prototypes and see an immediate visual of their creative idea." Share
Do you have any lessons where you find low student engagement? This is a great place to offer an activity with the 3Doodler pens. It can be the smallest project, but it will give new life to the lesson in the learners’ eyes. As you move through the design process, the 3Doodler pens are great tools for students to mock up prototypes and see an immediate visual of their creative idea.
I use a mobile cart to travel from class to class with the pens.
To ensure our students treat the materials with respect, I share a life rule from a fellow teacher: “Keep a neat appearance, keep your belongings in order, and pick up after yourself.”
When our learners understand this expectation, they take ownership and ensure that things are put away, plugged in, and tidy.
I truly believe this sense of responsibility builds community and student engagement, while allowing time for me to teach!
Learners will plan and create a two dimensional bubble wand using 3Doodler pens. They will test their wand to see the shape, size and number of the bubbles that come out. They will then create a three dimensional shaped bubble wand and see if that changes the bubble sizes, shapes, and quantities.
Learners will plan and create a meaningful symbol to represent the Wisconsin-native First Nation group that they researched. They will showcase this symbol as part of their presentation and gallery walk.
Do you have tips to share on using tech tools in your learning space? Share your thoughts with the 3Doodler EDU community on social media, and be sure to follow Velvet on Twitter!
Middle School science teacher, Ellen Peterson, shares how prototyping can help students take risks and invent new things.
Ellen’s students prototyped hydraulic claws, which were then used to clean up trash on their school grounds.
Students discovered they were learning more from their failures than their successes.
Scroll to the bottom to see our free hydraulic claw stencil that can be used to replicate this project at your home or school!
Written By Ellen Peterson, Science Teacher, Smithfield Middle School
Helping students develop ideas and create things is such an important process. Oftentimes I find my students will not take the risks involved in inventing new things because they have never learned about prototyping. They’ve often never been encouraged or allowed to truly explore the process involved in bringing great work to life. With that as my goal, we started working with 3D printing to create hydraulic claws.
"“Oftentimes I find my students will not take the risks involved in inventing new things because they have never learned about prototyping.”" Share
I introduced my students to 3D printing using 3Doodler Start pens. First we played with them, doodling our names and building small characters or logos that the students wanted to create. Soon, we moved on to using molds to create the parts of hydraulic claws.
My students didn’t know anything about hydraulics so we took a small detour in our process, got out some tubs and buckets of water, a few pieces of aquarium hose, and some syringes and figured out how water could be used to push a syringe plunger up while we pushed the connected plunger down.
This led to more than a few conversations about how we used that in real life – the brakes on cars, the lifts on our adjustable stools, and heavy machinery like cranes at our local shipyards. After exploring that, we went back to assembling our claws. The first claw that was assembled was used to pick up a piece of trash on the classroom floor. It worked!
After several class periods of exploration, we decided we needed a way to test all of our ideas, so I posed the question, “What could we do to test our inventions?” It was a student’s idea to pick up the trash we could see right outside our window.
Given the opportunity to brainstorm, they realized that their ideas would be taken seriously and they turned their attention to solving a problem we’d been hearing about in our local community… litter along our roadsides that was ugly, messy, and causing a multitude of problems. The students asked, “Could we pick up the trash outside to test our claws?”
"“Given the opportunity to brainstorm, they realized that their ideas would be taken seriously and they turned their attention to solving a problem we’d been hearing about in our local community.”" Share
That led to picking up other, heavier items and a race to finish more claws. After a few items were picked up, one claw broke. That brought about the process of repairing and improving each version of the claw, only now the kids wanted to know if bigger syringes worked better, if additional “fingers” on the claws would make for better claws, or if there were better materials for making the claws into sturdier tools.
We talked a lot about how other people’s ideas gave us more ideas of how to improve our own work and how, even if an idea didn’t work, it gave us more ideas. Several students took their ideas to more precise methods, using TinkerCAD and our 3D printer to manufacture parts.
Soon we moved away from just creating claws to adding handles and activation buttons to improve our inventions. Each time a new idea was proposed, I tried to make sure materials were available to make that idea possible. I didn’t know if their ideas would work (and often, I was sure they would not) but we tried to build them anyway.
When the project was over, students were surprised to discover they would be receiving grades for their work! They brought up the fact that not one of our homemade claws was still intact. Did that mean they would get a failing grade?
This led to a discussion about the importance of the process, and not the final product. Most of my students felt they had learned more from their mistakes than their successes! Many of them realized they got new ideas when something failed – not when something worked.
For teachers interested in recreating this project, I think it is important to understand it is a process that takes patience and time to explore. The time investment was well worth it for the learning that took place. Having lots of materials on hand was helpful, as was having professionally created “trash pickers” that students could look at for ideas.
Probably the most important thing I would recommend is making sure to build a claw and go through the process that you expect your students to go through. That experience was priceless in helping students to problem solve.
Middle School Science Teacher
Smithfield Middle School
Want to replicate this in your learning environment?