No Space for Makerspaces? No Excuses.

Late to the makerspace party? It’s ok, you’re not alone. Here’s how to get started.

The creation and utilization of makerspaces in schools has been and still is an emerging trend. In 2015 makerspaces were identified as an important development in educational technology for K-12 education. (NMC Horizon Report, 2015). But why? Makerspaces allow for students to physically interact with materials to construct a product that allows them to express, display and explain their ideas. Makerspaces build skills necessary for students become problem solvers and critical thinkers. Most importantly makerspace projects are engaging!

Students Building in Makerspaces

Students using math manipulatives to build structures during a structured maker time.

Students love to tinker and build, it comes naturally. Throw a pile of blocks, legos, K’NEX on a table and see how many students start making something without instruction. My wife (Mrs. Anthony, third-grade teacher) recently discovered the benefits of implementing a “maker movement” when she needed to fill some time with students due to other students pulled. She didn’t want to continue with instruction while many students would miss the lesson. She looked around for materials and found old math manipulatives, gave piles to students and let them build anything they wanted. What happened turned my wife from a “maker-hater”  into a “maker-believer” (Update: She claims she really wasn’t a “maker-hater” just “ill-experienced” with the maker movement). Students were immediately engaged and started building different things. Some students made landscapes with trees and other objects, some built towers grouped by colors, one even ditched the blocks and made a fidget spinner out of paper! She was amazed at how effortlessly they created and problem-solved. She also was amazed at how little behavioral issues she had for such an “unstructured” time. This post isn’t intended to show you ways to use a makerspace, but rather provide you with ideas, resources, on how to setup up a makerspace in your classroom.

From Large Spaces to a Mobile Maker Cart

Makerspaces have this reputation of being large spaces, usually placed in a library, that contains 3D-printers, laser cutters, CNC routers, etc. While these are great spaces, they’re not the only way to bring a maker culture to your students. You don’t need a 3D printer or laser cutter to have a makerspace. You don’t even need a space in your room. However, if you don’t have space, make space. And you if can’t make space, that’s ok, but still not an excuse. How about a maker cart and share it with other teachers?

The list below contains items that will help produce a maker environment. It should be noted that many people group STEM activities (such as robotics, coding, etc) in makerspaces. Although STEM materials can definitely contribute to makerspaces, you can still harness maker activities without them.  

No-Tech for Makerspaces – Think of this as arts & crafts on steroids.

Up-Cycle Materials to Build With

  • Lids – bottle caps, coffee containers, food containers, squeezable pouch lids.
  • Old CDs
  • Toilet Paper/Paper Towel Rolls
  • Milk Jugs
  • Tennis Balls/Ping Pong Balls

Needs ideas? Check out these Makerspace Books


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