Do your kids take delight in creating and inventing? Do you have a child who asks you not to throw certain things away because they have plans to make something out of it? (My daughter tells me this often!) If you do, your child would probably enjoy a makerspace, whether that be by creating one in your home and/or by visiting one of the local makerspaces that are starting to become popular across the country.
A makerspace gives your child open-ended and hands-on experience with solving problems and exercising their natural curiosity and creativity. It is easy to start your own makerspace supply – you can get started with only a plastic bin and by saving various odds and ends that accumulate in your house. (We also have a bin full of colorful papers plenty of art supplies that the girls are welcome to use with their creations.) Don’t be afraid to start small and let your supply grow gradually. Whenever we have leftover supplies from science projects or our monthly Tinker Crates, they go live in our plastic bin that has been set aside for this purpose. Extra (small) LED lights, copper tape, button batteries, magnets, plastic tubing, toilet paper tubes, egg cartons, toothpicks, string, cardboard, straws, rubber bands, cotton balls, duct tape, glue, fabric, clothespins, pipe cleaners…the possibilities are pretty much open to whatever you may have on hand. Let them look through your recycling bin for more options! (Note: be careful with button batteries and magnets if you have little children who may swallow them. You may want to keep those in a safer place, out of reach.)
One of the projects my daughter made on her own was a Father’s Day card using cardstock paper, LED lights, copper tape, and a button battery. When you press on the button battery, it presses against the copper tape to complete a circuit which then activates the LED lights.
She is also currently taking a makerspace class at her homeschool enrichment school. Over the course of the school year they’ve been given specific tasks to complete (rather than it being completely open-ended), so you could also give your child specific tasks to solve, too. A few ideas:
- An Electric Card like the example above. (Instructions for making a paper circuit at Makerspaces.com.)
- Make a marble maze out of craft sticks or straws.
- Have them design a contraption to keep an egg from breaking.
- Challenge them to build a tower that is taller than they are
- Create a model of something you are learning about in another subject (insect, historical building, atoms, etc.)
- Create a trebuchet (catapult) that tosses cotton balls or pom-poms
Do you have a makerspace in your home? What are some of your go-to supplies?