Makerspaces are dedicated work areas that help anyone to transform their ideas into a completed project. Often found in educational spaces like classrooms and libraries, makerspaces serve as collaborative spaces that allow folks to share, tinker, create, and share new ideas. In this article, we’re sharing makerspace ideas for school libraries that can work for every age range and ability.
Some makerspaces, like Kai XR, are completely digital, which allows learners to create and expand beyond any physical restraints!
Kai XR’s makerspace classroom is becoming increasingly popular in libraries, classrooms, and other public spaces. With the increased adoption of hands-on learning, educators and families are witnessing how powerful the results are beyond the classroom. Here at Kai XR, we believe it's the future of education.
Let’s dive into to see how working together in makerspaces can bring folks with common interests and skills to the next level of learning.
How to Create a Makerspace For Anyone to Learn
Makerspaces are workspaces, often in public areas, where folks with common interests can meet, socializie, and collaborate on projects. Instead of typical project-based learning often found in classrooms, makerspaces focus on the process ahead of the final product.
- Instead of a 10-page essay on robotics, a makerspace would prioritize working with robotics to share
- Instead of a science project definitively proving a scientific method, a makerspace would prioritize the trial and errors of exploring the scientific ideas or theories
- Instead of a final product that should look and feel a specific way, makerspaces encourage thinkers to create their own invention using the materials provides
Makerspaces encourage learners to “learn through play”, to try new paths, and to prioritize the act of making over any final product.
This method of free learning has been proven to allow learners to loosen up, build their confidence, and learn their own strengths as students.
Beyond the hard skills and STEAM learning that naturally happens in makerspaces, there is also a great deal of 21st century skills for students that are increasingly important in the future workplaces. In fact, makerspaces can be found in some of the biggest technology and engineering companies, like Google, to help employees to solve problems and create innovative projects.
Increasingly, modern workplaces are emphasizing both hard skills and many of the social and emotional skills learned through collaborative and experimental play with others.
Students who work in makerspaces learn skills like:
What Do Makerspaces Look Like?
Contrary to some beliefs, makerspaces do not need to be loaded with wires, batteries, and robotics gears to be successful learning hubs. Think of a makerspace, any makerspace, as a place to make things. The projects, materials, and concepts might differ from week to week. This means that any makerspace can include a variety of materials required to explore anything from fashion to engineering.
To take it another step further, makerspaces can exist entirely within the metaverse, which is great for homes, classrooms, and libraries that are lacking in physical space—but that are bursting with imagination and creativity. Digital makerspaces are great environments to have limitless resources to build and create.
Makerspaces are a perfect way to integrate tough concepts with hands-on learning. Unlike some technology-based learning that happens in the classroom, makerspaces can be customized to fit any classroom.
While some makerspaces might be equipped with wires and waves, others might hinge on classic supplies like construction paper and scissors. In fact, some of our favorite makerspace ideas for libraries and classrooms only require items and materials likely found in your home or classroom!
Any makerspace can be customized to teach a number of concepts and accommodate a wide range of activities, including (but not limited to!):
- Paper-based construction
- Building kinetic machines
- Arts & Crafts
Makerspaces are a great way to awaken learning in students who excel in hands-on activity. In the following sections, we’ll explore makerspace ideas for school libraries, classrooms, and even at home. We’ll explore activities and materials for every age—from beginners to the experts among us.
Makerspace Ideas for School Libraries: Starter Activities + Projects
Being curious is likely the best way to encourage learners in and out of an education atmosphere. Fostering and encouraging curiosity from a young age is essential to instill a passion for lifelong learners.
For many pre-school and early childhood educators, curiosity is encouraged through using all five senses when learning new ideas. Instead of learning through standard rote memorization, students are encouraged to use their hands, ears, eyes, noses, and even their sense of taste to learn.
Consider the five senses, and how they relate to early learning, when thinking up creative makerspace ideas. Here are ways to think about the five senses when it comes to makerspaces:
- How does our tongue taste and carry signals to the brain?
- How do our ears transform and interpret sound waves?
- How do our eyes translate light and color into images?
- How does our brain interpret smells?
- How do our skin receptors transform how things feel to touch?
According to a report by DG Treichler in “Trends in Cognitive Science”, people remember 10% of what they read, 20% of what they hear, 30% of what they see, and 50% of what they see and hear.
The next few makerspace ideas prioritize early learning, our senses, and how to use them to dive deeper into learning.
Makerspace Idea: Recycled Instruments
- Skills it Emphasizes: Sound, Recycling, Construction, Imagination
- What you need: Recyclable items like soda cans, water bottles, paper, plastic bags
- How it works: Supervised students build instruments from recyclable items like water bottles, cans, straws, and cups. Using these recycled items, students can create items that create sounds, like drums, woodwinds, or even simple, small guitars.
- Skills it Emphasizes: Sound, Recycling, Communication
- What You Need: Cups, string, pen,
- How it Works: Puncture a hole in the bottoms of two cups with a pen or scissors. Cut one 3-to-5-foot piece of string or yarn to thread between two cups. Connect both cups by tying a knot at each end of the string. Students can now use their “telephone” to communicate with someone else by alternately speaking into and listening to the cup.
Color Combination Workshop
- Skills it Emphasizes: Color Mixing, sight, touch
- What You Need: blue, red, yellow, white, and black paints, paper plates
- How it Works: Students can learn how to mix and match secondary colors by combining primary colors.
Float or Sink?
- Skills it Emphasizes: Mass, touch, feel
- What You Need: a large tub, water, various objects of varying weights and densities (ie. balloon, chalk dice, pencils, crayons, etc)
- How it Works: Students can explore mass and density by guessing and testing what objects will sink and what objects will float in their tub of water.
Digital Makerspace Ideas for School Libraries
VR makerspaces enable students to roll up their virtual sleeves, get creative, and experiment with new concepts and ideas that help them better understand the world around them.
Digital makerspaces like Kai XR Create also help students develop their creativity, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills; work collaboratively with others; and boost confidence in their abilities.
Unlike other digital makerspaces, Kai XR doesn’t require students to have advanced experience in coding in order to build their own virtual environments. With a drag-and-drop platform, students can take their existing knowledge of building—and build limitlessly within the metaverse.
The basic abilities included in Kai XR’s metaverse include:
- Orbit - Click and drag to move around your scene
- Fly- In play mode, click a location for your avatar to appear
- Translate – Move an object along its x, y, or z axis
- Rotate – Turn any object 360º degrees
- Scale – Change the size of any object
- Asset textures - Change the features of a selected object
The following ideas include digital makerspaces that allow infinite possibilities for the builders, creators, and tinkerers ready to create!
- Skills it Emphasizes: Building, Organization
- What You Need: Kai XR’s blocks template
- How it Works: Use Kai XR’s create digital makerspace to build with an unlimited number of virtual building blocks.
Kai XR’s Virtual Reality Field Trips
- Skills it Emphasizes: Empathy, teamwork, critical thinking, problem-solving
- What You Need: Kai XR’s VR field trips, a tablet, laptop, or VR-enabled device
- How it Works: Take your class on one of our 360 degree virtual field trips to explore, learn, and have important discussions about history, current events, the climate, and our future on (and off!) this planet.
- Skills it Emphasizes: Storytelling, sound, self-expression, editing, empathy
- What You Need: Paper, pen, sound recorder, editing software, playback device (ie. smartphone or laptop)
- How it Works: Encourage students to write, record, and edit a podcast of their own theme. Students can conduct research on a subject or create a personalized storytelling podcast to share. This is a great activity for middle schoolers or high schoolers to expand their storytelling and self-expression skills.
Makerspace Ideas for Elementary School Libraries
In elementary school, students begin to learn more advanced math, science, and art concepts. This is a perfect time to integrate makerspaces in order to ensure that each student is learning to their best ability.
If there is limited access to technology in the classroom, don’t despair! There are tons of great makerspace ideas for libraries and classrooms geared towards learners from ages 5-11 that don’t require tablets, computers, or software.
- Skills it Emphasizes: Basic math concepts
- What You need: Lego blocks
- How it Works: Supervised students can combine Legos to visually map out math concepts like fractions, addition, subtraction, and more. This article from Laughing Squid shows how students can use legos to work out math problems.
- Skills it Emphasizes: Construction, design, problem-solving
- What You Need: Tennis bowl, masking tape, popsicle sticks, pipe cleaners
- How it Works: Use a combination of structural materials (paper, sticks, pipe cleaners) to create a sturdy structure to hold a tennis ball, golf ball, or even a basketball!)
- Skills it Emphasizes: Engineering design
- What You Need: paper, tape, books
- How it Works: Students work together to build the strongest paper-based structure.
- Skills it Emphasizes: Pattern-making, design
- What You Need: Rubber blocks, carving tools, ink, paper
- How it Works: Create repeating pattern stamps by carving a relief stamp into a rubber block.
Makerspace Ideas for Middle School Libraries + Classrooms
In middle school, students can start exploring more advanced concepts in their makerspaces. This is an important and transformative time for students who are navigating a huge time of growth in their lives by becoming young adults.
This is an especially important time for girls to engage in STEAM learning. A study by Microsoft recently showed that girls typically show an interest in STEAM subjects, before quickly losing interest by age 15. That is why it’s especially important for educators to develop makerspace ideas of libraries and classrooms that engage all students. It helps to strengthen and broaden their social and emotional learning as they progress in school.
- Skills it Emphasizes: Engineering, physics, kinetic energy
- What You Need: Motor, AA batteries, battery packs, assorted recyclable materials. Scissors, tape, glue, etc.
- How it Works: This guide from Science Buddies shows how students can create and assemble junk robots from recyclable materials.
- Skills it Emphasizes: engineering, design, physics, tinkering, energy + electricity
- What You Need: Pennies, sandpaper, salt, vinegar, an LED light, a voltmeter, scissors, cup with water, paper towel holder
- How it Works: Check out this article from the Exploratorium to explore the step-by-step-instructions on creating penny batteries.
Book Page Roses
- Skills it Emphasizes: Design, recycling, self-expression, creativity
- What You Need: A recycled book, scissors, hot glue, toothpick, wire or
- How it Works: Cut pages from a book and old book and fashion them into petals to create a flower or a bouquet of flowers. This article from Make it at Your Library details exactly how to create beautiful petals for your roses.
Advanced Makerspace Ideas for High School Libraries + Classrooms
In high school makerspaces, students can use makerspaces to learn anything from architectural design to robotics.
High school makerspaces can be as rudimentary or advanced as the budget allows. While some high school makerspaces are equipped with papers and crafting supplies, others might resemble fully-stocked robotics labs, where students can tinker with advanced technologies
DIY Zine Workshop
- Skills it Emphasizes: Creativity, Construction, Self-Expression, Storytelling, Collaboration
- What You Need: paper, pen, pencils, markers, printers, stamps, glue, thread + needle
- How it Works: Students can work together or independently to create and publish their own ‘zine. From writing and editing the content to binding the book and potentially creating several copies, students can own the entire publishing process of a zine featuring their own personal stories.
- Skills it Emphasizes: Design, deconstruction, creativity, interpretation
- What You Need: Art books, paper, pen, markers, paint
- How it Works: Recreate modern works of art by creating simplified, shape-based, “pixelated” versions of the artwork. For example, recreate Van Gogh’s Starry Night Using identically-sized circles and filling them with color. Here is an example from educator Meredith Anderson.
- Skills it Emphasizes: balance, problem-solving, creativity
- What You Need: cardboard, wood, laser cutters or scissors, popsicle sticks, pipe cleaners, marbles, etc.
- How it Works: Using a variety of tools, students can create sculptures with gears, wheels, and moving components that work together with wind and/or manual motion. Here are some kinetic sculptures that imic the work of Alexander Calder.
- Skills it Emphasizes: Design thinking, creativity, engineering
- What You Need: cardboard, scissors, cutting tools, paint, glue
- How it Works: In this project, students can create miniaturized versions of existing spaces or envision their own spaces. Using a box or creating their own four walls, students can design the space, as well as all the furnishings necessary for within.
Makerspace Ideas for Everyone
Makerspaces can also be used to bring together folks of all ages and abilities. In fact, during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, many families created makerspaces in their own homes, using ideas from classrooms and makerspace libraries, in order to bond with their children and families.
- Skills it Emphasizes: Chemistry, creativity, self-expression
- What You Need: pancake batter, food coloring, bowls, pipettes, pan, stovetop,
- How it Works: Create a pancake mix and separate the batter into different bowls. Use food coloring to create different-colored batters. Use pipettes to create a designed pancake of your choosing.
Fix Broken Items
- Skills it Emphasizes: Problem-solving, engineering, mechanics
- What You Need: Simple broken items from around the house and something to fix them, (ie. wood paint for a chipped end table, spackle and paint for a hole in the wall)
- How it Works: Encourage all family members to bring an item that they would like to fix from around the house, and to bring the tools to fix it. Work together to assemble, fix, and touch-up broken items around the house.
Make Chores Fun
- Skills it Emphasizes: Responsibility, creativity, teamwork
- What You Need: Paper, pens
- How it Works: Make a list of some of the more burdensome chores around the home, and work together to solve them by making them more interesting. For example, mopping the kitchen floor could be more fun when accompanied by music or an informative podcast.
Take Apart an Appliance
- Skills it Teaches: Construction, mechanics, assembly, problem-solving, teamwork
- What You Need: An appliance (potentially a broken one) than can be taken apart
- How it Works: Take an appliance apart to explore the components within. Ideally, choose an appliance that would be easy to reconstruct. Alternatively, take an appliance that is broken to determine if you can work together to fix it!
With Kai XR Your Makerspace Can Be Anywhere
Your makerspace can be anywhere at any time when you use Kai XR’s digital makerspaces. Kai XR Create is a drag-and-drop digital makerspace where your students can reach for the stars, touch down on the moon, and build a town that’s out of this world—all from their desks.
It doesn’t matter what age or ability stage you find yourself in today. Start creating with Kai XR today.