Last year, I had the opportunity to have a weekly Makerspace club. I’ll be honest. I had no idea what I was doing, but I will jump in with both feet and try anything. It went well, and I learned a lot along the way. I’ve recently had a couple of new librarians reach out and ask about how to start a club, so I thought I’d share how mine worked.
We offered stations each week, and the students would either choose a station or they’d continue working on something they’d previously started. Our stations involved 2 crafts and then 2 tech activities. We eventually scaled that back to 1 of each because more and more students chose to continue working on their project from the previous week. We had about 60 kids in our club.
Having a library assistant who is an admitted craft supply hoarder is a plus when starting a Makerspace. She was moving and didn’t have room for her supplies at the new house. She emptied her hoard and brought it to school where we sorted through it and organized it into small, labeled bins. You might not have the library assistant craft hoarder, but these are things that families could easily donate.
Also, if you are the librarian, I bet you have some weeded books or books damaged beyond repair. Save those! Unless you have some rule that says you have to do something specific with those, then save those for book page projects. Follow our Books and Crafts Pinterest board to see all of the ideas we have.
pom pom balls- all sizes
cheap wooden photo frames
craft glue- glue sticks, and liquid glue
mini glue guns and glue sticks
colored pencils, markers
stamps, stamp pads
Other (non-craft) supplies:
Books or websites bookmarked on origami, calligraphy, paper airplanes, sewing
Adult coloring pages (If you have a poster machine, you can enlarge the pages so that multiple kids can work on this together.)
The PTO bought a MakerBot Replicator + 3D printer. A parent thought this was so cool that he donated some money for the filament, and then his company matched his donation. I didn’t ask for this, but he saw a write-up I’d shared about our new printer, and his son is a library helper and had already had a chance to use the printer, and apparently, he couldn’t stop talking about it at home. Score!
There were kids who worked on designs week after week until they were ready to print. We use SketchUp because our county has a license for it.
I also reserved a cart of Chrome Books each week for those working on coding. These students were largely self directed because they have some prior coding experience. However, they were actively teaching others in the club who were interested in learning.
Next year, I plan to incorporate robotics and work on adding more tech opportunities.
A few students wanted to be in the Makerspace Club, but they wanted to work on their own projects week after week. They provided their own supplies.
One student only wanted to draw manga characters. She used her phone to pull up images of characters she likes and practiced drawing them every week. Another student wanted to learn how to knit. She brought her own yarn, knitting needles, and a pattern. She worked on knitting a scarf. Eventually, 2 more students joined her because they thought it was cool, and she started teaching them!
Makerspace Club in action
Students come in the library and pick up their unfinished projects to continue working, or they sit at one of the new craft project stations. Those working in tech, go to the tech station and are using Chrome Books. I have the attendance roster on the library front desk, and students check off their name as they arrive.
Our craft projects this year included: book page crafts (flower, hedgehog, etc.), decoupage picture frame, string art (we nailed nails in board in patterns and students wrapped string around the nails), cross stitch ornaments, jewelry, modeling clay.
Student supplied stations included: coloring, drawing, knitting, origami, calligraphy
Non-craft stations: Legos, jigsaw puzzles
Students are largely self-directed for the next 45 minutes. My library assistant and I visit each station multiple times to check progress, to help out with questions, etc. But, we are really not instructing or giving step-by-step directions. This is their time to learn, explore, and figure things out. Of course, we help further as needed, but this time is largely student directed.
It’s not quiet. There’s a healthy level of chatter, laughter as they work together. It’s messy. They stop when our timer goes off and start the clean-up process, which takes about 10 minutes. It’s productive. Each week, it’s cool to see the progress being made on the various projects. The students are so proud when you notice the improvements or changes they’ve made.
Display and Share
If you have room in the library, create a display of items made in Makerspace so other students and faculty can see the results. Share photos and information through a variety of avenues so that the administration, PTO, and parents can see all of the exciting things going on each week. I made Vines each week and posted to our school’s social media.
Fidget spinners were all the rage, so we used the 3D printer to make our own. We remixed a file on Thingiverse and experimented with the bearings.
Someone will take the modeling clay and make poop. It’s middle school.