Simple Maker Programs

Okay, let’s talk a little about Maker stuff. As awesome as all the technology and hard core tools are, I think it keeps a lot of us from dipping our toes in the whole thing. MaKey MaKey is awesome, but it takes money and computers. Ditto Squishy Circuits, although it’s more time than money in that case. Toy Hacking is awesome, but you have to have management who think hacksaws and children are a great combination.

So what can you do instead? Simple things! We’ve had a lot of sucess just letting kids loose on craft supplies. Pick a time, advertise it, spread out some random but cool supplies plus glue and markers and stuff, and let the kids go at it (it’s a great way to use up those random purpose-bought supplies that didn’t get used up for whatever they were bought for). Yes, you’ll have to buy glue and markers and stuff a little more often than otherwise, but hopefully you can live with that. We did one on the Christmas break when half the town had no power due to an ice storm, and it was the place to be! Forty-odd people, ages 4-15 plus their grownups, came to be warm, charge their phones and make cards and gifts–we had 12 leftover picture frames that had been hogging cupboard space and they all disappeared in about 1/2 an hour.

Then there are all the great, simple things floating around on the internet! We’ve done this twice: http://yssevents.blogspot.ca/2013/09/build-bot-workshop.html (thank you very much to Amanda Moss Struckmeyer of the Middleton Public Library, for sharing). Children make simple little ‘robots’ from metal hardware bits and glue them to a magnet, and then move them around with another magnet. I had 12 kids the first time, and 24 yesterday, which was really more than I could handle, and they all loved it.

I also did a sewing workshop a month or two ago, with l0ts of needles and thread and fabric and buttons, and people were invited to drop in and either learn to sew or make something awesome if they knew how already. Luckily I had some parents and especially grandmothers come along, or I would have been swamped with teaching 16 kids how to sew! We had 22 come, but some of them did know how already.

Most of all, don’t worry! Maker culture is about just jumping in and doing it, so give it a try!

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