1. This most important piece to any MakerSpace is…SPACE! You will have to find some room in your class to setup as the work zone. This area needs to be large enough to fit some shelves, a work bench or two, wall space for some art or design ideas, and that’s about it. You want your students to feel like they have the room to create anything so don’t undercut the square footage. Some might want to put this area in the back of the class to minimize distractions, but don’t be afraid to make this a focal point of your classroom!
2. An unorganized MakerSpace is a no-no. Tools and materials need to be properly organized and stored. You want to limit ‘dead air’ by having the students find what they need when they need it. To minimize confusion and misplaced materials, you’ll want plenty of storage bins. These can get expensive, especially if you buy name-brand versions, but don’t underestimate the importance and utility of a cardboard box. LABEL. LABEL. LABEL. Everything needs a location, and it’s up to you to make it make sense.
3. Host a Tool Drive with your class. Everyone, and I mean everyone, has an extra hammer, screwdriver, or box of nails at their house that they never use. As expensive as they are when you buy them new, host a tool drive for unneeded household tools. Authentic materials will make you’re MS more exciting and offer more ways for your students to create and design.
4. Buy in BULK. Mainstay items like glue, tape, popsicle sticks, and construction paper should all be purchased in bulk. Buying liquid glue by the gallon should be the norm. Scour your school for empty glue bottles to use as refills. I’ve found Amazon has the best prices on bulk items like this, while also offering two-day shipping. If you’re like I used to be, and find yourself out and about 3-4 nights per week buying things for your class, you’ll love this built in feature as well!
5. Don’t be afraid to join in on the fun! The best way for students to gather ideas is seeing them in action first. Take some time out of your day to model some creative ideas in your MakerSpace. Turn into a carpenter and model how to hammer some nails into some old wood. The more your students practice, the more comfortable you will be with them working independently with potentially dangerous items. Whether you’re studying The Three Little Pigs or The Odyssey, come up with a clever prototype to show your class so they feel they, too, can build based on literature. If you’re studying simple machines in Science, construct a Rube Goldberg machine that utilizes each of the styles. Any chance you find to use the space, use it. The more fun you make it look, the more use it will get.
6. Host MakerSpace Night at your school. The number one hangup for parents is seeing how MS is relevant to classroom learning. To most, MakerSpace just looks like playing (which I’m all for, as well). The more you can educate the parents, the more you can offer your students during the day.