Have you considered providing a makers space in your elementary classroom? These designated areas that allow kids to tinker with various materials have been popping up recently in libraries and schools. Think about giving it a try with your students; the makers space concept is a great way to provide the opportunity to experience hands-on, collaborative activities.
Not sure how to get started with your own makers space? The first step is to understand the requirements. Makers space materials are highly subjective but the one must-have is a designated area. You can set up a makers space table or even choose a roomy place on the floor. The key is to assign a spot and you may even want to make it a permanent go-to center in your classroom.
The aim of a makers space is to give kids the chance to manipulate objects and create their own inventions. Students can learn to think about a concept or task and then execute that plan, often while collaborating with others in the space. Some examples of elementary school makers space projects include:
- Paper plate marble track (similar to the Mousetrap game)
- Popsicle stick structures
- Paper towel roll water slides (cut the cardboard in half lengthwise to make the slide)
Because kids will need to work with each other to share the physical space, it’s a good idea to keep the materials well-organized and within reach of the makers area.
So what types of materials will you need to organize? This is where the fun really begins because the materials in a makers space should be widely varied. Translation: the objects you provide can be whatever you want!
Creativity is the name of the game so while Legos and Play-Doh can be good makers space staples, try to venture out and include more unusual objects as well.
For instance, copper tape, pipe cleaners, multi-colored twine, yarn, Washi tape and bread bag ties are some interesting and inexpensive ways for kids to attach objects to one another. As for the objects themselves, make sure to have plenty of cardboard, toothpicks, craft sticks, paper towel rolls and card stock on hand. Consider introducing a building material that is similar to Lego but less familiar like Kinex or Qubits.
Remember that your students probably have ideas on the types of materials they would like to work with. Keep an “I want” box in the room and kids can drop in suggestions for materials. Another idea is to ask them to write or draw their ideas on a whiteboard.
Be sure to check with your principal about securing funds to provide the materials; it’s possible that parents can be asked for donations or that the PTO or PTA can help.
Today’s elementary students are often asked to think critically and to work within a collaborative culture. A well-stocked makers space provides endless opportunities to enhance a child’s learning and thinking skills plus has the added bonus of allowing the kids to move around, be tactile and work together.