Makerspaces have begun popping up in school classrooms, at libraries, and in local communities in recent years. They’ve become especially popular in science, technology, engineering, art and math (STEAM) classrooms, but they’ve been popping up in homes recently, too.
What is a makerspace?
A makerspace is a “curiosity space” for kids to build, explore, and invent with a variety of tools and supplies. These hands-on spaces ignite curiosity, innovation, critical thinking, and creativity in your future engineer, scientist, architect, surgeon, artist, etc.
How do I create a makerspace at home?
Makerspaces can be very “high tech” with 3D printers, soldering equipment, or fabrication equipment. These makerspaces are typically found in schools or community centers like libraries or colleges. At home, though, there is no need to go so high tech. A “low-tech” makerspace is more versatile for multiple age groups. They are also much more budget-friendly and easier to manage.
Ways to ignite curiosity and creativity through making:
Once all of your supplies are gathered and organized into a space, here are some suggestions for how to ignite your child’s curiosity and creativity:
Take apart a broken appliance together: Instead of throwing away that old toaster, VCR, can opener, etc., why not take it apart with your little engineer in their makerspace and explore how the components work? Not techy? No worries, there are tons of resources available online, like howitworksdaily.com.
Solve problems for characters in children’s books: Does your little problem-solver have some favorite children’s books? Get creative and have your child solve problems for the characters in the books they love. For example, can they create a strong wolf-proof home for the three little pigs (“The Three Little Pigs” by James Halliwell-Phillipps)? Can they help Rosie Revere design a contraption to help her Great Great Aunt Rose fly (“Rosie Revere Engineer” by Andrea Beaty)? Can they find a way to balance 10 apples on top of one another (“Ten Apples Up on Top” by Dr. Seuss)?
Solve household problems: Does your little maker have household chores they dislike? Have them discuss why they dislike the chore, and ask them to come up with a solution to make the chore more fun. For example, maybe they dislike making their bed. Ask them what kinds of solutions would make the chore easier or more enjoyable, like a prototype robot to make their bed or maybe a prototype bed that makes itself.
Develop solutions for real-world problems: If you have an older child who likes to learn about the world, perhaps you can talk about real-world problems like the fact that many people in the world don’t have clean water. Can they research the problem and develop a solution for this in their makerspace area?
Fix Broken Toys: If your little scientists are anything like mine, they are constantly testing the limits of their toys — and sometimes break them. Use this as a problem-solving opportunity for your child, and ask them to fix the toy using items from their makerspace.
Let them create whatever they want: Allow your little inventors and creators to make whatever they want with the supplies available in their makerspace. Children are naturally curious about the world around them. Watch and marvel at the ingenious, brilliant ideas that they come up with in their spaces.
Here’s a list of suggested supplies and tools for your at-home maker space:
|Adhesives||Duct tape, glue gun & sticks, masking tape, Mod Podge, painters tape, Scotch Tape, spray adhesive, various glues & glue sticks|
|Brushes, cardstock, canvas, construction paper, fabric, felt, paint, pom-poms,
stamp pad & stamps, stickers, tissue paper
|Basic Tools||Calculator, hammer, magnifying glass, ruler, screwdriver, wrench|
|Building||Building block sets, cardboard, clay, craft popsicle sticks, foam sheets / board / balls, pipe cleaners, plastic drinking straws, Play-Doh, PVC pipe, toilet paper and paper towel rolls, toothpicks, wooden dowels|
|Cutting||Hole punches, scissors|
|Drawing||Crayons, colored pencils, erasers, graph paper, highlighters, markers, pens, pencils,
pencil sharpener, stencils, white paper
|Fastener||Binder clips, fishing line, paper clips, rubber bands, string / yarn, Velcro®, zip ties|
|Safety||Apron, goggles, masks, rubber gloves|
Kristen Antosh is the creator of momgineeringthefuture.com and a Northeast Ohio Parent blogger.