School libraries are starting makerspaces all over the world. It’s an exciting time in education as we rediscover the power of creativity. But many schools rush to start makerspaces so quickly that they neglect building the maker culture. Developing a maker culture is a lot like developing a love of reading, it takes time and persistence and it’s totally worth it. Here’s a few ways that you can work to cultivate a love of making and creativity in your students.
Create Interactive Learning Environments
An interactive learning environment is a learning space where students can change, manipulate, and alter their environment in some way. This could be a whiteboard wall or a chalkboard table. It could be a LEGO wall that students can build on. Or furniture that is modular and easy to manipulate. Even something as easy as an interactive Post-it note book display can help encourage student creativity. The key is to find ways to get students to interact with their environment and express their voice in the space.
Develop Creativity Stations
I’m not a fan of makerspaces that are exclusively station-based. But I think that including some creativity stations, whether temporary or permanent, can help foster creativity and maker culture. It doesn’t have to be super complicated–just some supplies and some sort of design prompt. You could put out a giant coloring sheet and crayons. It could be a bin of LEGOs with a challenge to build a rocket ship. Something that gets students creative.
Display Student Projects
When students create a project in your makerspace, honor it. Create a special display area where students can show off their projects. This will often inspire other students to create something when they see what their peers made. At Stewart Middle Magnet, there is an open student display area on top of a bookshelf in the library. There is also a student project display in a trophy case outside the library that we took over.
Host Maker Lunches
It’s not always easy to pull students out of classes or get teachers to collaborate with you on maker projects. By hosting maker lunches, you can get around this problem. Lunch time maker sessions are a great way to host workshops, listen to guest speakers, and teach new maker skills. It also allows for a greater variety of students to participate in your makerspace activities, since not all students can come during class or after school.
For more ideas on how to build a maker culture and develop your school library makerspace, check out the book I wrote with Colleen Graves and Aaron Graves, Challenge-Based Learning in the School Library Makerspace. It comes out in August and is available for preorder now.