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6.5: MakerSpaces

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    What is a Makerspace?MAKERSPACE openart-image_6ONVcobq_1715474413919_raw.png

    Makerspaces are plain and simple, an area where children and adults can gather to tinker and make things. The spaces can be NO Tech, Low Tech or High Tech. Since space is a premium in most preschool classrooms, it may make sense to have the Makerspace be next to or near the art area as they will share some supplies.

    According to the Preschool STEAM website, Makerspaces are places where children can "can explore, tinker, and create using a variety of materials and tools." Makerspaces allow for collaboration, help children develop creativity, and provide a place to engage in hands-on learning and experimentation. See the Preschool STEAM website for more information.

    Child Tinkering with Cardboard openart-image_jyBJid8h_1715477108642_raw.jpgChildren's Role During Tinkering

    The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) breaks the role of the children during Tinkering into 3 steps:

    1. Tinkering -- "Using the stuff"
    2. Making -- "Using the stuff to make stuff. Sometimes it does something and other times it is just cool."
    3. Engineering -- "Using stuff to do stuff that makes stuff."

    Role of the Teacher

    The teacher's role is of course to supply the area with a variety of materials. In addition to providing materials, teachers:

    • Encourage thinking and problem-solving by asking open-ended questions.
    • Provide the children plenty of time to design, build, and test their products.
    • Help children to fix mistakes by encouraging the children tol make new discoveries on their own and use trial and error along the way. (Do not fix the mistakes for the children.)
    • Teach children how to safely use the “real tools” and to monitor them when in use.
    • Establish rules for how to use the tools and to help the children to see and manage risks. Tools the children might use may include: child safety goggles, low-temperature glue guns, measuring tapes, rulers, scissors, funnels, child-size hammers, pliers, screwdrivers, etc.

    Makerspace Materials

    You will want to include materials that allow the children to do various things such as building, connecting, sculpting, mixing, write, and decorate. The list or suggested materials below is from Makerspaces in Early Childhood Settings from The Learning Child Blog.

    • For building: popsicle sticks, straws, paper plates and cups, corks, wood scraps, pipe cleaners
    • For Connecting: A variety of tapes such as masking, duct, and cellophane, staplers, glue sticks, beads, string, clothespins, rubber bands, paperclips and binder clips
    • Sculpting: modeling clay, play dough, and tools such as rolling pins, plastic knives
    • Mixing tools: plastic bowls, spoons, pitchers, and ingredients for science exploration such as corn starch, and vinegar
    • Fabrics and decoration: pom-poms, feathers, buttons, fabric scraps, felt,
    • Writing materials: markers, pencils, pens, crayons
    • Electronics and technology: batteries (keep in a battery holder) flashlights, beginning circuitry kits ( These items would be for the more advanced engineers)

    Makerspace Location

    A Makerspace shares many materials with an art center, so having them adjacent can help with organization and space. The materials in the Makerspace should be organized and easily accessible to the children. Clear containers work best so the children can see what is available for them to use. A wonderful resource for setting up a Makerspace is Making and Tinkering with STEM by Cate Heroman.

    6.5: MakerSpaces is shared under a CC BY license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Vicki Tanck (Northeast Wisconsin Technical College).

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