“Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Design is knowing which ones to keep.” – Scott Adams
A makerspace, an area dedicated to creation and problem-solving, can be a wonderful addition to the classroom. A makerspace is a place that represents curiosity, problem-solving, and trial and error. It is a place that invites students to create and try new things. In a classroom where there is a makerspace, students don’t just consume content. They create meaningful projects that extend learning. They manipulate ideas and concepts. They can see, touch, hear, and feel what they are learning. What they learn is no longer abstract and invisible; they can see their thinking and learning through the things they create.
Makerspaces are not just places. They are a mindset and a philosophy that advocate for the creation of learning and not just consumption. You can use this space to extend learning in any subject, or even in multiple subjects at one time. One of the wonderful things about makerspaces is that the activities can be connected with a variety of subjects: art projects can be used to understand scientific concepts, game creation can be used to understand math concepts, and so on. The ideas below have been divided into categories, but in practice creation often involves multiple components. For example, creating a newspaper involves writing, technology, art, and design.
- Book illustrations
- Doodling and drawing
- 2-D and 3-D models
- Escape room creation
- Game creation
- Maze creation
- Robot making out of random parts or junk bot!
- Simple machine creation
- Time Capsules
- Comedy Skits
- Puppet Shows
- Theatrical Plays
- Debates and speeches
- Literature Circle
- Panel or Socratic discussions
- Show & Tells
- Gifs and other animations
- Live Streams
- YouTube or other video creation
- Advertisements, commercials, or brochures
- Blogs, vlogs, and websites
- Books written by themselves or as a class
- Diary entries
There is no limit to what students can do when they are given the time and space to be creative.
You don’t need have to have expensive and fancy tech in a makerspace. I try not to have kits, only loose parts so my students can create things from scratch. Materials that can be helpful include beads, binder clips, bottle caps, brushes, card stock, chalk, clay, construction paper, cups, glue, hot glue sticks, magnifying glasses, markers, microscope, paint, paper clips, pipe cleaners, popsicle sticks, rubber bands, scissors, stickers, straws, tape, and yarn. You can also include random things from your house, a second-hand store, or a dollar store.
Start little by little and have fun in the process! Isn’t that what STEM is all about?
This article has been adapted and condensed from Brain-friendly Teacher: How to Create Lasting Learning through Classroom Design and Instruction.