How to upgrade your classroom with an amazing maker space
Hands-on learning areas are an essential part of every classroom. After all, children learn best when they can play, create, and use their imaginations to bring their ideas to life. A makerspace wall is a great way to incorporate hands-on learning, giving students a place to think, explore and experiment.
Since makerspaces can come in all shapes and sizes, there’s no need to be intimidated by the idea of creating one in your classroom. Here’s a quick guide on why and how to create a workspace your students will beg to use.
Why have a maker space?
There is a lot of research that shows how important hands-on learning is for children. When students can use their hands to see how things work and make new things, they are more likely to commit the lessons they have learned to their long-term memory. Maker spaces require students to think outside the box and build resilience, confidence, and problem-solving skills. When children work together in a makerspace, they build relationships and learn the art of cooperation and compromise.
Having a makerspace also gives your students a place to try out new ideas, make connections between school, home and the real world, and build their critical thinking skills. Furthermore, makerspaces are fun, and students who enjoy school are more likely to have fun and learn new things.
Where can I place a makerspace?
Some schools and teachers are fortunate to have large classrooms where a corner can be designated for maker space. If you’re not one of those lucky ones, you can create a cool crafting space on part of your classroom wall.
The size of your makerspace doesn’t matter – what matters is what you put in it and how students can use it! Choose a wall that is easy for your students to access. For example, if you are teaching early elementary, you will want a section of the wall that is low enough so that students can reach the materials on their own. It should also be part of a wall that will not get in the way of your daily activities, as well as part that students can keep neat and tidy.
If you don’t have a wall available in your classroom, see if there is a wall somewhere in your school that you can use to create a shared workspace for multiple classes.
How do I create a makerspace?
Pegboard is a must! You can attach the containers with S-hooks and fill them with any number of materials. The tools attach well to the pegboard as well. If you have a foot or so of space in front of the wall, you can fill a bookshelf with containers of materials as well.
Rolling carts are a great addition too. Hang some posters on the wall, add some crafting space-related books, and you’ll have the perfect wall for students to use to imagine and create.
What should I put in my makerspace?
The beauty of a makerspace is that you can put almost anything in it! (This will be a great opportunity for community members and parents to donate tools and materials.) Start with a variety of general items
- Basic craft supplies, such as:
- Boxes made of cardboard
- The twine
- Basic tools
- Old toys
- Popsicle sticks
- Building blocks
- Hole punches
- Paper clips
- Cotton swabs
- Pieces of wood (for older students)
- Sandpaper (for older students)
- Basic sculpting tools (for older students)
How do I maintain my makerspace?
Since students are the ones using the maker space, they should be responsible for returning all supplies to the correct places, arranging them, and disposing of any trash. You can also rotate what’s in the makerspace, depending on what you’re teaching. Older children may enjoy working with circuits if they are learning about electricity while younger children can make 3D paper shapes as an extension of basic engineering concepts. Label your bins and keep similar items close together to reduce clutter and keep things organized.
The location and size of your makerspace and what you put in it are less important than the fact that there is one in your school somewhere! The educational benefits are enormous, and you never know which students in your class will use their time in industry as a springboard to a future career.