Good morning, my fellow Pandemic-surviving friends!
What are you making at home these days? Making cookies? Making dinner? Making drinks? haha. Yes, I’m making all of those, and we are all making other things we love, too. My son is making an electric guitar out of wood, my husband is making plans to go fishing , my daughter is making anything she can think of out of paper, scissors, tape and markers, and I’m making blogs. Making and creating IS a thing. We all do it whether we realize it or not.
Today, I’m throwing some Makerspace ideas your ways for your kids and your learners.
Just a recap — a MAKERSPACE is a dedicated area for making/creating/building/crafting/engineering/all of the above. Schools have been increasingly adding these Makerspace areas and lessons in recent years because of the important skills that kids learn from it: Out-of-the-box thinking, innovation, self-autonomy, critical thinking, flexibility … and what I’ve seen in the Makerspace: JOY! Lots of joy and engagement.
Here are just a FEW ideas for you and your kids at home this week. Obviously, this list could be endless … but here are some for this week …
1. PAPER CREATIONS: Pull out some printer paper, scissors, tape or glue, markers or crayons or colored pens and set it front of them. Tell them to go find one item from their bedroom they can use in their creations. Then … Tell them to make you something! See what happens. This is what happened at our house: A PAPER DOLL. (She even made clothes for it! All made out of paper, tape and one little yellow rubber ball.) To add some fun, put some time contraints on it if you want — you have two hours. Or DARE THEM! “I dare you to make something using only these materials…” I’m telling you — that will be the quietest two hours of your life!
2. Cardboard Box or Recycled Material Project: A MAINSTAY in my school’s Makerspace! This is so easy. Thing of something to challenge the kids to make — a robot, a Leprechaun trap, an EASTER BUNNY TRAP, a flower garden, the list goes on. Then provide them with duct tape or masking tape, scissors and any recycled items you have in your garage. Give them the Makerspace Challenge or Dare, and let them get to work!!! You will be AMAZED at the extraordinary and creative thinking that comes out of something so simple … and you will also be amazed how much fun they have coming up with something. To add an extra element of challenge, have them SKETCH OUT their design after they’ve seen the materials they have to work with … it reinforces the Engineering Design Process early on for kids, (Here it is the one I use at our Part Library/Part Makerspace = Libratory)
3. CHALK!!!! If you so happen to have chalk, or can get your hands on, go set your friends outside to design, draw and leave positive messages for the world on the sidewalk. I’ve seen two friends in my NewsFeed do that this week. EASY. FUN.
4. PAINT!!! Okay, so that sounds really scary. Almost as scary as glitter … but not quite. Do you have any paints? Fingerpaint, paint by number? Anything? If not — time to find some next time you’re out scavenging for Milk and Eggs. Who doesn’t like to paint? Just put a little bit on a paper plate, and put plastic or old placemats under the artist (or kick them outside, if you want!) and let them get to Picasso-ing! My little person used all those toilet paper rolls and made a butterfly. Thanks, Facebook Crafting Videos!!! https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=3361895340507830
5. Animal Habitat –– Okay. I got this idea from my six year old. She’s queen of the Making at our house. And I turn away for 30 minutes and came back and she’s created an intricate animal habit for one of her little toy animals in her room. The answer: PAPER PLATES. Put one in front of your kids, tell them to find a small animal toy and have them create an animal habitat. They could even do a diorama and use a cardboard box, and for extra challenge, have them research that animal and find out facts and write them down before making the Habitat. There. Easy-peasy. An afternoon of fun and learning DONE.
6. WOOD-WORKING.I know, you can’t do it. Neither can I. But that doesn’t mean your kids can’t …. with a little help from YouTube. My 13-year-old’s love language is YOUTUBE. He loves learning there, and he loves creating too. He has been working on creating an electric guitar. Yes, he’s had lots of help from my dad and brother (who are wood-workers) but he’s also spent a lot of time on YouTube looking up projects. (That alone keeps him busy). But even if your kids are younger, what’s wrong with finding a hammer, some nails, and wood and letting them hammer away? They could hammer their first initial out of nails on a piece of wood … they could just hammer and THINK they’re making something grandiose. Don’t be afraid to let them try. I was … until I saw my great Pre-K Teacher Joy Davis outside with 10 four-year-olds with hammers, nails and pieces of wood. Heck, if Ms. Joy can do it, we can ALL DO IT. Here my son is SANDING wood for a new project he wants to begin … there’s that too. SANDING.
7. Colored Pens. Super easy. Go round some up under the cushions of your couch, or buy a new set like I did and see what they come up with. Sometimes, they need help from us to give them ideas. It could be … DRAW A PICTURE OF YOUR FAVORITE STUFFED ANIMAL. And look what we have …
8. LEGO CHALLENGES –– What a love-hate relationship I have with Lego. They have created the most fabulous building toy on the face of the planet, and they have also created the most MESSY one. How many legos have we all picked up in our house at one time? Nonetheless, these are desperate times, and that means we NEED LEGO more than we hate them. Again, I think a lot of kids get stuck when you say “Go play with your Legos!” But if you can give them constraints. Using only THESE COLORS, or I dare you to make an EASTER BUNNY out of Lego. When you narrow it down, they often take the challenge, and that means learning and engagement for them, and peace and quiet for you. So here are a few links to my favorite LEGO CHALLENGE card ideas. It involved me GOOGLING LEGO CHALLENGE CARDS, and voila! HEre you are! (I’ve also bought seasonal ones on Teachers Pay Teachers …)
LEGO STORY BUILDING — Love this!
9. BLANKET FORTS, FURNITURE MAZES, and YARN! Oh my! — Remember the Blanket forts of yesteryear? Time to make them. Want to let the kids get cardboard boxes and make your house into a maze? I saw a friend on Facebook gave her kids yarn and they created these incredible obstacle courses out of them. These things are at home, they’re easy to find if you don’t happen to knit, and they keep your kids thinking, creating and innovating … while you’re working to make dinner!!!
10. FREE COLOR SHEETS, Origami videos, and Crafting videos on social media and Pinterest. — Sometimes, I say, “You want a color sheet?” and then I go find something new for her to color. Sometimes, I find origami videos for my students at school, or crafting videos. It’s easy, they’re making, and I’m happy. Here are a few links to get you started:
FREE COLOR SHEETS — Google it!
MORE STEAM Crafting