How to Make a Makerspace – Summer Reflections

As I enter my third year of Makerspace programming, I find that I’m convinced more and more of the power of #makered.  I’m happy to see as an early adapter, that more and more schools, libraries, and cities have also adopted the idea of “tinkering.” So much so that, President Obama even hosted a Maker faire this week!

Somehow, with my time off this summer, I’ve signed myself up for two MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses). One that is part of the National Writing Project (NWP) centered around Connected Learning- #CLMOOC, and the other a STEAM camp- #STEAMMOOC.  I’ve also signed myself up for a Maker Camp at my local PD where I will be incorporating Maker activities into content curriculum (And you thought Teacher Librarians took their summers off!)

The first make for #CLMOOC was a challenge to create a  “How to.”  With all the hype around Makerspaces, I decided to make a super simple “How to Make a Makerspace” in Canva (a tool I’ve been itching to tinker with!)

These 5 steps are simple:

However, these steps do need a little more explaining.  First off, my students are the epicenter of my Makerspace.  When I say let the students guide the learning, I mean let them decide what workshops to focus on. Also, let students lead those workshops!  The great thing about this is that you and I do not have to be experts in Minecraft or duct tape wallets, because chances are, we can find students who knows WAY more than we do on the subject.  I wrote extensively about this in my article in the spring issue of Knowledge Quest.  Which you can access here if you are a member of AASL.

However, you do have to push students to do more than just learn a new skill.  Which is why thesecond step I suggest is hosting a workshop to teach students how to do something new and then for the third step, create a challenge to see how far your kids can push their learning.  I learned this technique from my librarian friend Leah Mann, who also works in my district.  She sets the kids up with a month long challenge and usually rewards the top Make with an iTunes giftcard.  I hope to institute a monthly challenge next year and then end the year with a Maker faire! (Hopefully across our whole district!)

The fourth step is a gentle reminder, that while high tech is cool and exciting, low tech is still necessary!  Low-tech tools like making things with cardboard, making binary bracelets (Thanks again @DianaLRendina for hacking’s lesson and sharing!)  or even having kids create their own ukuleles, will help you engage an even broader audience and get more kids tinkering.

As for high tech, this doesn’t always mean high price! We spent the entire month of May learning coding and programming for free with tools like and MIT’s Scratch programming. (Which by the way, if you wanna learn Scratch, you should geek out with me by completing some challenges over at  Also, if you missed my coding post, I vlogged about it two episodes ago here.

Lastly, for those wanting more, you can access more sites for free coding, workshop ideas, and resources here: . These resources were created by Leah Mann and myself for the Summer Digital Learning Conference at Region 11 last month.

To end this post, I’d like some communication with my global community.  How do you see yourself incorporating makerspaces? Do you see a difference in STEAM and Makered or is it the same thing with a different name? What steps are missing on my Canva.  Do you have a similar “How to” Please comment below!

How to Make a Makerspace

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