MAKE Time for Learning in the Summer…At Home!

For me, one of the most powerful pieces of the Maker Movement is that it is based on the belief that regardless of race, gender or even age, there is something in it for everyone.
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For me, one of the most powerful pieces of the Maker Movement is that it is based on the belief that regardless of race, gender or even age, there is something in it for everyone.

For me, one of the most powerful pieces of the Maker Movement is that it is based on the belief that regardless of race, gender or even age, there is something in it for everyone. Makerspaces in K-12 have had a profound impact on education, but for me, it also has had a profound impact on myself as a parent, and relationship building with my son. Every spring, since my son has been a toddler, I have prepared a Pinterest board with maker activities for the summer that he and I would be able to complete together. Throughout the spring, we gather and order all necessary materials, this way on the very first day of summer, we can hit the ground running. ‘Making’ is something that is not a focus in his school, so it provided us with the perfect opportunity to invent, explore, experiment and create at home during the summer months. 

Our activities have included constructing cardboard boats and oars:

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We also have designed and created our own robots and had an at-home BattleBots competition:

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As I make our plan for this summer, I was recently inspired by the students of Indiana educator, Andrew Kauffman, whose students made their own sketchbooks/design books to use as a space to be creative over their spring break. This is something I will be adding to the maker activities I will do with my son this summer.

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I have also recently been inspired by New Jersey school superintendent, Glenn Robbins and his rock star maker son, Henry. It is clear that the making experiences they have shared have created memories that will most certainly last a lifetime. I have enjoyed nothing more than watching how making has been something they share together.

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I have also been inspired by educator, Rebecca McLelland-Crawley, who has shared many of her priceless family making experiences. 

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The summer months have been an amazing opportunity to create memories and deepen the bond I have with my son as we laughed and learned together over the maker activities we completed together. They also though have provided inspiration for he and I that we have both brought with us back to school. He, for example, once created an art machine out of littleBits that he brought back to school in September to share with his art teacher and classmates, helping to inject a bit of STE{A}M into his school.

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For me, the making experiences my son and I have had, have had a direct impact on my makerspace, as well as the makerspace work I do with schools across the nation. Perhaps none more inspiring than our trip to the Please Touch Museum in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. This trip provided me with countless inspiration for how to create student-driven learning spaces.

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This visit even led to me writing a crowd sourced blog post that includes a list of 30 ways to ‘Create the Conditions to Inspire in a Makerspace’.

As we head into the summer months, I wanted to share with you some of my favorite maker resources for families. It is my hope that you will check them out and reap the benefits of sharing making experiences with your families.

Maker Dad, by Mark Frauenfelder

As the editor in chief of MAKE magazine, Mark Frauenfelder has put together a book of 24 projects that he was able to share with his two daughters, and encourages other fathers and daughters to do together. Maker Dad teaches girls lifelong skills—like computer programming, musicality, and how to use basic hand tools—as well as how to be creative problem solvers.

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Makerdads is a new initiative, spearheaded by Joe Mazza, Professor of Innovation & Educational Leadership at the University of Pennsylvania's Graduate School of Education, and most importantly, an amazing dad. This initiative is aimed towards dads who create (or WANT to create) learning and life experiences for kids through literacy, humility, empathy & innovation. You can join the conversation both on Facebook and on Twitter.

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Tinkerlab: A Hands-On Guide for Little Inventors by Rachelle Doorley

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This book contains 55 playful experiments that encourage tinkering, curiosity, and creative thinking from the creator of—hands-on activities that explore art, science, and more.

Rosie Revere's Big Project Book for Bold Engineers by Andrea Beaty

This new release features art from the picture book Rosie Revere, Engineer and is aimed to inspire young readers with activities of all kinds. I love this book because it is geared towards kids themselves. This empowering activity book will teach problem-solving and creative-thinking skills crucial to STEM fields while also providing opportunities for its readers to try new things and, sometimes, to fail. 

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Ultimately, making at home does not require anything fancy or expensive. With a little creativity and imagination, making can help build closeness among family members without requiring much time or preparation. I would not trade the memories made from the making experiences my son and I have shared, for anything in the world.

What are your favorite resources for making at home?  Be sure to share them at #worldsofmaking!

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Laura Fleming has been a classroom teacher and media specialist in grades K-8 and currently is a Library Media Specialist for grades 9-12. She is a well known writer, speaker and consultant on next-generation teaching methods and tools, and the author of the best-selling Worlds of Learning: Best Practices for Establishing a Makerspace for Your School



What Constitutes ‘MAKING’? promo image

What Constitutes ‘MAKING’?

One of the questions I am asked most frequently by educators, in terms of makerspaces, is for lesson plans, project ideas or templates that I have that they can use in their makerspace.

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For as long as I can remember, I've held the belief that the expression "I don't have time" is a cop-out for people who don't have the courage to say "what you're talking about just isn't that important to me."