April 30, 2016

Suggested Items & Products for a Makerspace

Following my previous post regarding why makerspaces are important, where makerspaces can implemented in schools, and how makerspaces can operate, I’m now going to discuss items to include in a makerspace.  There are items I recommend starting with (both donated and purchased), and items I suggest acquiring once your makerspace is up and running.

If you’d like to start a makerspace in your building but don’t have any funds to do so, you can ask for donations.  I truly believe that a makerspace it really more of a mindset than an actual space.  A makerspace involves students exploring, designing, problem solving, and collaborating.  This can be done with a short list of very basic items.  One way to collection items is through a Donors Choose campaign, were you can collect funds to purchase items.  When we started the makerspaces in my two buildings, we asked parents to donate from a list of suggested items.  Here is a list of items in particular that we asked for:
  • Duct Tape
  • Scotch Tape
  • Masking Tape
  • Foil
  • String
  • Ribbon
  • Yarn
  • Fabric
  • Toilet paper and paper towel rolls
  • Old toys to take apart
  • Screwdrivers
  • Scrapbook paper
  • Origami Paper
  • Construction Paper
  • Straws
  • Balloons
  • Empty water bottle
  • Water bottle and pop caps
  • Cardstock
  • Pencils
  • Crayons/Markers/Colored Pencils
  • Rulers
  • Toothpicks
  • Egg Cartons
  • Play Doh
  • School glue
  • Hot glue gun
  • Sewing supplies (sewing machine, thread, looms, needles)
  • Perler Beads (and iron)
  • Scissors 
  • Popsicle sticks
  • Dixie cups
  • Paper Plates
  • Newspapers
  • Pipe Cleaners
  • rubber bands
  • Plastic storage contianers
  • Ziploc Bags (sandwish & gallon)
  • Marbles
  • Cardboard
  • Cardboard connectors
  • Batteries (AA & AAA)
  • Cotton Balls
  • Cupcake liners
  • Coffee filters
  • Paint & Paintbrushes
In the end, we received donations for many of the items listed above and purchased any items we did not receive.  As supplies run low throughout the school year, we either buy what is needed or ask parents to donate from a short list of requested items.

If you have funds to start your makerspace, I have suggestions for starter products to buy.  The market for STEAM and makerspace items is vast.  Below is a list of affordable items I suggest purchasing to get your makerspace up and running.  For my two buildings, these items are perfect for students in grades K-5:
  • Keva Planks
  • Snap Circuits
  • Ozobots
  • Marble Mazes (both plastic & wood)
  • Legos
  • Knex
  • Makey Makey
If you’re lucky enough to have extra funds or you’re ready to expand your makerspace beyond these items, I have suggestions of products to purchase.  These items are on the pricey side, but they are certain to extend the learning taking place in a makerspace setting.  Remember, you can always do a Donors Choose to raise funds to purchase expensive products.  Additional items I suggest purchasing for your makerspace are:
  • Computers/Laptops & iPads
  • 3D Printer
  • 3D Scanner
  • Sphero
  • Little Bits
  • Hummingbird
  • Lego WeDo
  • Lego Mindstorms
  • Lego Technics
  • Dash & Dot
  • Bee Bot
  • Makedo Items
  • Raspberry Pi
  • Arduino
  • Squishy Circuits
  • Cubelets
No matter what items your makerspace has, remember that the focus is on student learning.  Students can think critically, inquire, test, collaborate, design, and create with many items or just a few (in fact, limited resources challenges students to adapt and problem solve).  Start with donated items and build to purchased materials, both cheap and expensive.  

Please stay tuned for my next blog post on makerspace kits you can easily make with very little money.  Instead of buying learning products, make them!  I’ll show how students can create their own doodlebot, flashlight, bristlebot, three-wheeled car, and a water bottle balloon car. 

April 25, 2016

The Challenge Continues . . . Buckeye Book Award Reading Challenge 2005

And the reading challenge continues!  As stated in a previous post, my librarian friend Ashley Lambacher of the Book Talker and I are hosting the Buckeye Book Award Reading Challenge.  Our goal is to read all the past winners from the children’s book category in chronological order from 1982 to the present.  I will read the K-2 picture book winners and Ashley will read the 4-8/3-5 chapter book winners.  Because 2004 was skipped, today I continue my challenge by reading the winner of the K-2 Buckeye Book Award in 2005, Muncha! Muncha! Muncha! by Candace Fleming.

After years of dreaming of planting a garden, Mr. McGreely finally makes his dream come true. However late one night, three hungry bunnies appear: "Tippy-tippy-tippy, Pat! Muncha! Muncha! Muncha!"  The next morning finds our farmer furious over the gnawed sprouts.  So he builds a small wire fence.  That night... "Muncha! Muncha! Muncha!"  So Mr. McGreely builds a tall wooden wall, then a moat and an enormous cinderblock tower with searchlights.  Each night his garden is eaten by the greedy bunnies.  In the "gotcha" finale the rabbits seem defeated.  but they burst into view one last time with a vigorous repetition of “Munch! Munch! Munch!”  Kids love Candace Flemings repetition and Brian Karas's lively illustrations.  My daughter is a fan of this book and the other Tippy books.  Still popular today, a well-deserving winner of the 2005 Buckeye Book Award.

Ashley, your upcoming 2005 book is Judy Blume’s Super Fudge.  It was a personal favorite of mine when I was a little girl.  What about you?

Would you like to join Ashley and I as we read through Ohio’s award winning books?  We welcome any and all who are interested in participating in this fun reading challenge.  For more information, click here.

April 17, 2016

A Makerspace - Why? Where? How?

The makerspace movement is the hottest new trend in education.  They are popping up in many elementary, middle, and high schools across the state and nation.  As a teacher librarian, I serve on the makerspace committees in both of my elementary buildings.  The makerspaces in each building are new, and were launched this school year.  In a series of upcoming blog posts, I’d like to provide others insight into starting, operating, and maintaining a makerspace.  Today’s post will discuss the philosophy explaining why a makerspace is important, where makerspaces can be located, and how makerspaces can be utilized.

Makerspaces are revolutionizing the way educators approach teaching and learning.  Built on the idea of constructivism, they provide personalized learning, inquiry-based instruction, and promote STEAM.  Makerspaces can be defined as a unique “place where students can gather to create, invent, tinker, explore and discover using a variety of tools and materials” (Diana Rendina, Renovated Learning).  By creating authentic learning experiences, makerspaces provide hands-on, student-centered learning.  They foster creativity, critical thinking, and problem solving skills, while promoting collaboration as students work together to create projects and complete design challenges.  Makerspaces allow students to explore their own interests, allowing choice on learning activities and approaches to task completion.  Most of all,  makerspaces encourage a growth mindset as students redesign, solve, and persevere through complex, and often challenging, assignments.

You know a makerspace is a valuable addition to schools, but where is a makerspace located?  The makerspaces in both of my buildings are very different.  In one elementary, our makerspace is located in a room connected to the media center.  There are five work tables (no chairs) and shelves full of tinkering items.  If you have an available room in your building, I highly recommend turning it into a makerspace.  Having makerspace items stored within the tinker space allows for a one stop shop for creation with a variety of resources.  If you do not have an open room in your school, you can still have a makerspace.  For instance, in my other elementary building we have makerspace items stored on shelves for teachers to bring to their classrooms to use.  I truly believe that a physical space is not needed to have a makerspace in a school.  A maker mindset can be promoted anywhere!  In fact, having access to a limited amount of items/supplies forces students to adapt and seek alternate solutions to their design and creation challenges.  Worry less about the physical space of a makerspace, and focus on the mindset of a maker environment.
Regardless of where your makerspace is located, how it’s utilized by staff and students is an important aspect.  In my elementary building with a makerspace room, it is signed out by teachers to use with their students.  Teachers either allow students freedom to create or tinker, create stations with specific learning activities, or ask students to complete a specific STEAM challenge.  If teachers want help using the makerspace with their students, the gifted teacher and myself can be scheduled to assist.  In my building without a physical makerspace room, teachers can sign out the makerspace items to bring back to their classroom.  Once again, teachers can allow students time to discovery play or they can create tables of design challenges or ask students to solve a STEAM challenge.   If teachers want assistance, I can be scheduled to help.  As a teacher librarian, I am not in the specials rotation.  Teachers see me to schedule lessons taught independently and in partnership with them.  If you are a teacher librarian within the specials rotation, you could offer makerspace time to your already scheduled classes.  If you are a teacher librarian on a flexible schedule in a middle or high school, you could have a makerspace within your library for students to utilize during their study hall period. 

If you’re considered starting a makerspace at your school, I hope this post was helpful.  There are many ways to bring a makerspace to your staff and students.  Find what works best for your school, and go for it.  The unique learning provided by a makerspace is too valuable to not try and start somewhere.  Please stay tuned for my next post on items to include in a makerspace.  I’ll offer my advice on what to purchase first and later, as well as suggestions for donated items.

April 11, 2016

Happy 1st Birthday To My Blog!

On this day last year, I posted my first entry on my ‘Page Turning Librarian’ blog.  It was about the Little Free Library my family installed in our Hilliard neighborhood.  I’m please to see that both my blog and our Little Free Library continue to thrive and increasingly serve many.

The Little Free Library in our neighborhood has inspired more libraries over the year.  Originally dedicated to the memory of my father who gave thirty years of community service, he’d be pleased by the sense of community it has brought to our neighborhood.  He’d be even more proud to see this one Little Free Library grow to many more for the children of Hilliard.  Last fall, Hilliard’s Superintendent Dr. John Marschhausen granted my wish to install a Little Free Library at all fourteen elementary schools in the Hilliard City School District.  So far, a Little Free Library has been installed at both of my elementary buildings with plans for more to be installed in the next few months.  

My ‘Page Turning Librarian’ blog continues to grow strong and I have new plans for it in the future.  With an audience from ten countries worldwide, so far my blog has had over 3,500 hits - not bad for it’s first year!  With posts about my Buckeye Book Award Reading Challenge, book reviews, reading recommendations, and seasonal book lists, I’ve had quite a lot to say over the year.  While I’ll continue to create posts along these same lines, I’d also like to do more entries about:
  • My continuing work with Little Free Libraries (look for my tips to run a successful library coming soon).
  • My contribution to the makerspaces in my buildings and this rapidly growing movement (be looking for posts that include product reviews, tips for a successful makerspace, and tutorials to create unique maker kits for students to build).  
  • Invite guest bloggers to contribute entries regarding their passions and strengths.

If you read my blog, sincerest thank you for your support over the past year.  Please stick around for another exciting year of celebrating elementary libraries and children’s literature.  Here’s to one year down and many more years to come.