When I listened to others talk about their makerspaces they were always so enthusiastic about what they were doing. All I kept thinking was where is the curriculum connection and how am I going to convince my stakeholders that this is a good idea. In addition, many of the people sharing the information about the awesomeness of makerspaces were working in a middle and high school libraries. Being that I work in a preschool to second grade building it was difficult for me to envision what something like this would look like in an early childhood setting. I mean I cannot give a three-year-old power tools!
Like most things, I had to learn more about it. I had to think about how it could work within the library. There was always this time when some students were finished finding a book and others were still looking. This was a difficult time to manage student behavior because I was attempting to help students find books as well as check them out as well as make sure the students who were finished were not running amuck. I tried worksheets and free reading, but it did not allow for student engagement. So one day I put some blocks on the table and it was like magic. This began my makerspace journey.
In our library we do not call it a makerspace, because it is not really dedicated as that, but we have maker stations. These are items that are available for students to pull out and use. I do not have any cool robotics and we have not taken apart anything like computers yet, but using simple tools I have seen amazing creativity. The students have to work together to complete a task and the best part is that students are engaged in learning during their entire time in the library. I have started small with low-tech options. Here are some of the examples of what students are using:
Chalkboard Felt Shapes
White Board Words Rainbow Blocks
Learn to Draw Legos
As with anything in early childhood there was a lot of modeling that had to happen to introduce each of these stations. Additionally, I had to develop a way for students to know and understand the rules for each space. We also had to address storage. I had a four-inch gap at the bottom of each of my bookshelves. It was a space that really collected dust. I was able to find containers that would fit in this space and allowed for all the items to be stored away when they were not being used.
The concept of making is expanding at my school. The first graders are now able to participate in Maker Mornings. On Tuesday and Wednesday mornings the students are allowed to choose one of the four classrooms to visit. Each room has a different maker activity. To make sure that any one classroom does not have too many students in it, they use a string of clips outside their classroom door. To enter the room, you have to put on a clip. When the clips run out, the room is full. The teachers have discovered that they have more students arriving on time to school. Their students just cannot wait to create!
Now, I feel like the one who is enthusiastic when talking about the power of making. I love that it is my students who are driving the library in this direction! I am sure there will be more to come.