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!