Maker Book Review: Invent to Learn Guide to Fun


If you’ve visited my Makerspace Resources page, you’ll already know that I suggest this The Invent to Learn Guide to Fun as one of the must have Maker books to get you started in your maker education journey. However, I’ve found myself with TWO copies of this fabulous book, so I wanted to share why I love this book, and …. well, you’ll have to read the whole post for all the details.

Quick Summary

This is a whimsical and fun project book for makers of any age! With a focus on robotics, 3D printing, Scratch, and Makey Makey, you’ll find high-low tech projects for every makerspace.

Best Age Group – ALL

Since the majority of projects focus on LEGO, Makey Makey, and drag and drop programming, you might be tempted to only buy this as an elementary educator. However, I think the projects in this book are fun for makers age 6 – 106. High school students still love making artbots, paper circuits, and sewing circuits and Burker has included easy hands-on projects in this book from Constructing Modern Knowledge Press.

Usability and Feasibility

If you’ve attempted any Instructables projects lately, you might be wondering just how feasible it is to follow the projects in this book.  Burker does a GREAT job writing out the steps for each project and includes just the right amount of pictures to get you through if you are a visual learner. My 7 year old and I attempted and completed many of the LEGO projects in this book. I learned how to use TurtleArt and convert 2D files into 3D design files for 3D printing. The projects are fun and doable for makers of any caliber. The wording is flexible enough that young makers could follow projects without the assistance of an adult, but is also challenging enough that adults can have fun making these projects too!

Plus, I really love the write-ups for the Makey Makey Musical Instrument Project and the Makey Makey Operation Game.

Flexibility and Longevity

If projects are easily hacked, then you know you’ve found a great project book! As Burker says in his “Where Do Good Projects Come From?” chapter, “Every project can be extended.” As a student of constructivist Gary Stager, Burker wrote every project in this book with the intent that each maker would personalize, hack and take each project further. Once you and your students start making projects from this book, you’ll find yourself thinking, “And then??”


For example, after seeing a Spin Art Machine that Josh made based on the LEGO Wedo Carousel project from this book, my 7 YO and I started our own journey into #LEGOtinkering. (LEGOtinkering was introduced to me by The Tinkering Studio as they were experimenting with Lego linkages while my Ryan Library students were starting their Invention Literacy Project mentioned in a recent post.) At first we attempted Burker’s version, but couldn’t pour our paint without making a mess, so my 7 YO just used it to maker perfect circle art (Because I was already trying to hack it unsuccessfully! )

Then we started trying to control our Spin Art with Scratch on my 7 YO’s Kano Computer.

However, we got paint all over our living room ( don’t worry, we cleaned it up- but remember MAKING IS MESSY.) I let the idea settle for awhile and started playing with LEGOs on a daily basis so I could become more versed in tinkering with LEGOs and inventing contraptions. I bought more gears and LEGO Technic bricks and am now blaming Josh Burker, Ryan Jenkins from The Tinkering Studio, Amos Blanton, and Peter Hoh for making me an adult LEGO addict. (I even learned to use a laser cutter so I could make my students some LEGOtinkering boards!)

These books are decent springboards, but the instructions aren’t super clear….

Just this weekend, the #superlibrarianhubs saw a hand cranked Beaker Blender I made from the Crazy Contraption book above and suggested I merge that idea with Burker’s Spin Art Machine and that turned into this super silly hand cranked LEGO Spin Art Machine.

This eventually merged back into a motorized spin art machine like in Josh’s post.

But as Josh mentions in his book, “By documenting your project and sharing it with others you invite people to change, expand, modify, and grow your work.”

One of the best thing about maker projects is that you can continually change, adapt, and rework projects and look at them with fresh eyes.


So now it is your turn! Since I am in possession of a second copy ofThe Invent to Learn Guide to Fun , I’m going to give away my second copy! All you have to do is comment on this blog post with your name and your school (or library.) I’ll randomly choose a winner, and I’ll mail you this book!

Entry to this giveaway ended June 15th at 9pm.

Happy making! I’d love to see what you make and remix based of Burker’s book!

Wilson County Public Libraries won! Congrats, guys! Ping me your address!





46 thoughts on “Maker Book Review: Invent to Learn Guide to Fun

    • I agree that sharing ideas leads to more ideas. One of the great things about the Internet is that it is so easy to share.


  1. This book sounds fantastic, I’d love to get my hands on a copy.
    Happy to cover the postage cost!
    Mill Park Library Science and Technology Makerspace, Australia.


  2. I too love Josh’s book (and already have a copy, so I don’t need to be entered in the drawing). But for some more #LEGOtinkering inspiration, you might also want to look into the “LEGO Idea” books by Yoshihito Isogawa. Plenty of visual examples, very little text and minimal direct instructions – just perfect to my tastes. His books cover a range of LEGO components and complexity.

    Here’s a link to some of Isogawa’s books on Amazon


  3. Our library is just getting involved these projects and I would love the book for more ideas. Love your blog….you inspire me to work toward more creativity in our patrons.
    Vicki Anderson, Librarian
    Northwest Regional Library
    Buffalo SD


  4. I could use this in our Makerspace at Bedford Primary School in Bedford, VA! Always looking for new ideas – that’s why I follow you on Twitter.


  5. Thank you for sharing! My students started making this year; our movement is growing!
    Shannon DeSantis Peoples Academy Middle and High School
    Morrisville, VT


  6. Wilson County Public Libraries. We would love this book. We are hosting two Maker Corps sites this summer and building mobile maker spaces for our smaller libraries. We are incorporating a Makerspace in our main library

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Sounds like a great read! Would love more innovative ideas in m’space. Thanks for sharing.
    Justin Jasper
    Memorial Elementary
    53 W Grand Ave
    Montvale NJ 07645


  8. Love your ideas, willingness to share and your kind gesture to give away a copy of this fabulous book.

    Laurie Hnatiuk Teacher Librarian
    Saskatoon Public Schools Saskatchewan Canada


  9. Josh’s book is an inspiration for the maker movement and constructivism! The library at McNabb Elementary could use his book to inspire and encourage our students.

    Thank you for this review and the other resources that your shared!
    Cherilyn Ziemer, Ed.D.
    Instructional Specialist
    McNabb Elementary – Spring ISD, Spring, Texas


  10. Jessica Samuel – Montgomery Intermediate School
    Sounds like a wonderful book to grab! I can’t wait to see you in Denver at ISTE 🙂


  11. This book sounds perfect for some of the stuff I want to do in our media center next year! Plus, simple instructions work for a word girl like me trying to become a maker master.

    Heather Mason
    Jefferson Middle School


  12. My learners would get “steamed up” with the inspiration and ideas in this book!
    Shannon Walters
    Integrated Arts Academy,
    Burlington, VT


  13. This sounds like a perfect book for those of us new to the making movement. My family and high schoolers would love it.
    Prairie Ridge HS, Crystal Lake, IL


  14. I’m trying to expand my Maker collection (actually, develop one–I have only a few books right now). This looks like an amazing jumping-off point for our kids to grow and learn! Thank you!


  15. This book sounds like a great addition to our library! I’ll have to add it to my purchase list if I don’t win! I’m moving into a high school library position next year after many year in a middle school library. I’m hoping to bring the maker movement into our high schools. We have classes in our district that fit into the maker movement but no high school has resources or even an informal space dedicated to the maker movement.

    I’ll be the librarian at Kickapoo High School in Springfield, MO starting in about .


  16. As always your blog is an endless source of inspiration. Thanks for the giveaway!
    Tina Glatz
    Onate High School
    Las Cruces, NM


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