What is a Maker Space, and when did it become part of our common education vocabulary?
Early Childhood teachers and caregivers have been providing opportunities to create, engineer and fabricate…long before the term “maker-space” was invented.
But language is powerful and Maker Space has great authority, so I’m happy to go with it…and happy to see “tinkering” elevated to the importance it deserves.
In today’s pandemic world, Maker Spaces could easily be “rebranded” as “self-regulation stations.” Maker Spaces not only develop critical thinking and specific STEM skills, they also help us calm down by providing quiet places to relax and play. To get out of our heads and have a hand-mind-body experience.
Most preschools provide children with a quiet corner…an area to retreat to when stressed. A space for solo time with soft cushions, plush toys, and picture books.
Maker spaces can provide similar relief from stress…either as a place for solo play or by supporting small group collaborations. Whether done alone or in a small group, tinkering offers a calming sensory experience.
May is Mental Health month.
It’s a good time to remember that making things – being generative – is both empowering and relaxing. We don’t often think of STEM and MINDFULNESS together, but in maker stations they go hand in hand.
Do you have a maker space at home? If not, maybe you’ll take time this weekend to dedicate a space for your own family to create and explore. Think of all the found objects you could put there to inspire creativity and critical thinking: from old computer keyboards and broken gadgets…to egg cartons & cereal boxes..to nuts & bolts of all shapes & sizes…the sky really IS the limit, and collecting things to put there is half the fun.
Before the age of computers, alone time was often time to reflect and be creative. Let’s do what we can as educators and parents…as true advocates for children…to enhance our own Maker Spaces both at home and at school…and role model what it’s like to replace some iPad time with more tinkering time. On that, I bet we can all agree.
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Thank you for taking the time to read my thoughts and share your experiences. I hope you enjoy connecting with like minded spirits as much as I do.