Creating Your Own Homeschool Makerspace!February 28, 2020
Have you heard of makerspaces? Whether the term was dropped from an overheard clip of conversations at a co-op meeting or a sponsored article on Facebook, makerspaces are beginning to take the homeschooling world by storm. Providing homeschooled children with a maker space is becoming popular due to the rising focus on STEM and STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) opportunities. A makerspace for kids gives them an area to explore beyond limits with hands-on learning and creative DIYs. In fact, makerspaces are catching on so strongly, that a few parents have found a makerspace in libraries around their communities! So, what is a makerspace–and how to start a maker space? If you’re asking these questions and more, you’ve come to the right place!
What is a Makerspace?
The term maker space is relatively new for several homeschoolers and may create confusion. There are numerous educational terms thrown around the homeschooling circle, and after a while, it can become downright tedious to keep up with all of them. Thankfully, a makerspace is exactly what it sounds like. It is literally an area for your kids to explore, learn, create, and build anything their minds can imagine. It’s a space for making new creations, projects, experiments, art and more. Most commonly, makerspaces are utilized for STEM projects, however, they can also include art or even be used for other subjects, such as history and language arts!
To create a makerspace, you’ll need to set aside an area in your home. It doesn’t have to be large, and it can be put away when not in use. It can be as small as a few shelves, a desk, or even a storage cart! Makerspaces can have as much flexibility as you give them. What matters, in the end, is a provided space where your child can learn through hands-on creative building, crafting, and innovative project-making!
You could incorporate a makerspace into your homeschool as a follow-up to science lessons, as an after-school reward, or even as your main focus once a week! A makerspace for kids is the epitome of hands-on learning and offers the opportunity to instill excitement and fun in otherwise often-dreaded subjects like science and math. Maker space projects can be as simple or complex as you like, and they can range from on-the-fly building to the results of detailed project instructions.
So, you’ve been wondering what is a makerspace? We’re here to help! To begin creating your homeschool maker space, we’ve researched the best ideas for makerspaces and compiled a list of must-have makerspace supplies! Whether your children are techie, crafty, or everything in-between, there is something here for them to enjoy!
- LEGOs. Blocks and all sizes of LEGOs are a wonderful idea for a maker space. Most children love building with blocks! Encourage your children to build something new, or even think outside the box and combine their LEGO creations with other maker space materials for something entirely new!
- Craft Supplies. There are several great craft materials to include in a maker space. Truth be told, crafts are some of the most helpful supplies for makerspaces! Regardless of how crafty or DIY-inclined your kids may already be, you never know what interest could spark while they are experimenting with the makerspace. The results will surprise you! Helpful craft supplies could include a hot glue gun, rubber bands, beads, yarn, scrapbooking materials, pipe cleaners, rickrack, scissors, rulers, pencils, markers, crayons, googly eyes, masking tape, duct tape, Washi tape, fabric, felt, ribbon, string, pom-poms, feathers, clothespins, and so on.
- Cardboard. In a makerspace, cardboard has nearly infinite uses. Your children can shape and tape it, cut it apart for new projects, use it as a framework for delicate builds, and more! Cardboard is a versatile material to offer your children in a makerspace for kids. Homeschooling parents tend to love Amazon Prime, so keep those boxes as a donation to the makerspace!
- Art Supplies. In addition to craft supplies, art supplies are also a good idea for a maker space! Maker space projects typically involve taping, painting, or building of some type, and that’s where art supplies can come in handy! Further, decorations make everything far more fun. Here are a few art supplies to consider adding to your makerspace for kids: paint, scotch tape, glitter pens, Mod-Podge, modeling clay, plaster of Paris, glitter glue, paintbrushes, loose glitter, stickers, etc.
- Kid-Friendly Circuitry. Circuitry is not usually something you’d include with kids’ projects, but that’s where STEM experiments differ from most! A few kid-safe circuitry items to consider are LED string lights, conductive copper wire, and a coin-cell battery. You can find more ideas for makerspace circuitry by reading through STEM circuit projects for kids.
- Recycled Materials. Before tossing an empty container or used material, consider if it could be creatively used in the makerspace! Some of our favorites include empty toilet paper rolls, paper towel rolls, recycled plastic tubs, glass jars, metal containers, and more.
- Paper. Your kids will use all kinds of paper for their makerspace activities! Whether it’s for decoration or main elements, you’ll be surprised at how often your children reach for paper. Populate your makerspace with several styles for varied options. To get started, consider construction paper, tissue paper, cardstock paper, printer paper, stationery, scrap paper, newspaper, even homemade paper!
Makerspace Activities for Kids
Makerspaces are all about encouraging natural learning through curiosity. Still, with so many options possible, it can be difficult to decide on what to build with a makerspace. You could even be wondering how to start a maker space simply because the ideas are endless. A makerspace for kids is a great idea for channeling their energy, and projects with instructions can help kick-start their maker space experience. Whether you choose makerspace activities in your own home or you find your community offers a makerspace in libraries, offering a makerspace for kids can help ignite interest in new areas and strengthen skills in existing favorite activities.
Without project instructions, it’s possible your children may flounder for where to start or what to make. Further, they could find themselves initially repeating the same crafts or feeling like they are incapable of building anything else. One of the best aspects of makerspaces is that the options are as limitless as your children’s creativity. All of us can get stuck, though, so it can help to research a few hands-on STEM projects to try! Have you ever worked on a crossword and felt like quitting when you’ve been stuck on one word for ten minutes, only to find out it was an obvious answer? You knew the word, but you simply didn’t think about it. Just like your brain got caught in a rut, so can your kids when the initial excitement of their makerspace wears off. Try these projects to get their creative juices flowing even more, or just peruse them if you simply need solid examples to answer, “what is a makerspace”!
- Simple Electric Propeller Car. It’s exciting for kids to build a LEGO car with wheels, so how much more exciting would it be to build a self-powered car with batteries and a propeller? This is a great way to show how exciting STEM can be.
- Paper Plate Maze STEM Challenge. Sometimes, STEM projects can feel too complicated and strict. The best projects often allow kids to have fun with changing things up and seeing the different results! We love that this paper plate maze is a STEM challenge that allows your kids to take the reins like actual scientists.
- Build a Robot Hand. Robots have always been an exciting idea. Today, more than ever, the concept of robots and AI is becoming a real part of our society. If your kids love robots, challenge them to build a robot hand with this project!
- Slingshot Straw Rockets. There’s not much more exciting than a slingshot and rockets for kids. We love that this challenge presents the opportunity for building their own rocket with a slingshot and straws! Not only will they see the results, but they will learn the “why” behind the concept.
- Make a Paper Circuit. A big part of STEM involves circuitry, and let’s be honest, it’s probably one of the coolest aspects for kids and parents alike. These were always the science projects we looked for at science fairs in school! This particular project is especially unique because it leans toward STEAM with the artistic element!
- Create Your Own Harmonica. I know, I know, parents should band together in solidarity against harmonicas and children. They are noisy, headache-inducing, germ-collecting little nightmares. But…the kids get so happy and it’s actually pretty cool that they can make their own with this project!
- Build a Pyramid Catapult. This project focuses on engineering a catapult from a pyramid. The idea itself is fascinating and the result would definitely be exciting for kids. Even better, most of these needed supplies are likely already in your maker space! Enjoy!
Courtney Newman is a homeschooled graduate with a love for writing. She is currently pursuing her undergraduate degree in Health Science at University of the People. Other than writing, her hobbies include reading, yoga, visiting the beach, and meditating. She lives with her husband and pets in coastal Virginia.