Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The Beginnings of a MakerSpace for the Younger Set

I've heard of the term "Makerspaces" but didn't really know what it was specifically. That was until visiting the St. Louis Science Center during one of their First Friday events about games. The science center had an area for kids and teens to make their own board games. Being the curious teacher, I had to go browse. They provide an example of a game before you get to the supply area and then beyond that were tables full of random craft supplies and other materials to use. Think of all the different strategic thinking kids need to do to come up with inventing a game.

I started looking up Makerspaces and of course discovered other libraries and classrooms wanting to give their students a version of this experience.  From 3D printers (how sweet would that be!) to Lego (mindstorms) to book making--the possibilities are endless. I will definitely be using ideas from "Make It @ Your Library."  

One of my new library centers is a MakerSpace with the project changing once every other rotation.  It just so happened that my first MakerSpace item had already been created and used by the kindergarten students before.  I had cut up sponges into rectangular Jenga size pieces and let the students use them to build or form letters.  This idea was only used because I didn't want the noise. Lo and behold, they were fascinated by the new tactile experience of building with sponges. 

I altered the MakerSpace and added clothespins and index cards just to see where the imaginations of kindergarten and 1st graders would go.  Some chose to just use the blocks and create buildings, others wanted to spell their names, and some just stacked and clipped away.  There were individuals working by themselves and pairs and teams of three and four.  It was exciting to see the interactions.

Since this was the first time with the concept, the students did not keep their final products.  I believe after testing this idea with 5 classes that this is an idea worth continuing.  I plan on adding disposable materials so that when the students finish, they can keep the product (e.g. graphic novels/comic books or printed virtual books).  

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