How to Create a Makerspace At Home During a Pandemic
- 14th May 2020
With the school year wrapping up remotely and many summer camps, daycare centers, and public parks closed due to coronavirus, parents are wondering how to keep their children entertained without resorting to hours and hours of screen time. Encouraging unstructured learning time through creativity and play may be a solution to this predicament parents are facing, and one of the most popular ways to do this is by creating a makerspace.
A makerspace is a collaborative, shared workspace where children can participate in self-led, creative, and hands-on activities. At schools, makerspaces may include high-tech machinery, such as 3D printers, robotics kits, or even woodworking tools. But all a makerspace really needs is a small arsenal of supplies and some creativity, making it possible to still create a highly engaging makerspace in your own home.
Because many stores are closed and shopping restrictions still remain in some places, you may not be able to hunt down specific supplies for your home makerspace. Luckily, it’s still possible to create a functional and engaging makerspace with items you probably already have lying around the house.
Here are 5 steps to creating a makerspace at home:
When planning your makerspace, choosing a location that can serve a variety of projects is critical. If you have access to a large, flat workspace, this might be the best place for setting up bigger projects. Lighting is also important, as hands-on activities often require a lot of detail and focus. Your dining room table or kitchen island may be your best bet for working on makerspace projects; however, if you don’t have a space like this, open floor space, a small desk, or even the garage or driveway can all still be functional spots to set up your makerspace.
Determining a definitive place to collect and store all of your makerspace supplies is key to creating a home makerspace that children continue to utilize all summer long. It can be as simple as a large storage tote marked “Makerspace Treasure Chest” or as complex as a cubby unit organized by category, but you can use whatever you have. The important part is that all of your makerspace tools and supplies are in one consistent location where they’re always available and accessible to your kids.
A successful collection of makerspace supplies focuses on two important factors: versatility and variety. Items that would generally become trash––plastic bottles, cardboard boxes, paper towel rolls, and empty jars––are incredibly versatile as makerspace supplies and are great low-budget options that are already available in your home. Consider how your children’s current toys can be utilized in a makerspace, including lego sets, building blocks, and old toys that kids could disassemble for parts. Also, you will need to supply children with some method of binding items together, whether that’s tape, glue, wire, staples, or string. Anything you already have in your house is fair game for your makerspace supply arsenal.
Kids aren’t as likely to engage in a makerspace if they’re not feeling inspired, so it’s important––particularly for younger children––to offer some ideas to act as a starting point for their creating. Pinterest can be a valuable tool for unique and fun ideas that you can print out and put in a binder or on a mood board for kids to look at to get their creative gears turning. If you’re an extra crafty parent, you can even pre-make kits of supplies with no directions and let children imagine their own projects. The goal is just to give them somewhere to start.
The final step in creating your home makerspace is simple: use it! For younger kids, you may have to guide them in their making, but be sure to give them full control over their projects. For older kids, you will probably only have to introduce them to the concept of a makerspace and show them where to find tools and supplies for making. Once you give them the means to create, let your kids’ imaginations go wild! Makerspaces are all about self-guided, unstructured exploration and experimentation.