Students always benefit when given the chance to experiment and think creatively. They just need the materials and a little room to do it. Schools everywhere have begun to recognize that.
Across the country, schools are embracing the concept of a “makerspace.” It’s taken different forms in different places, from updated art rooms to gleaming STEAM and fab labs. But the goal in each of these places is the same: to encourage kids to design, experiment, create, build and invent.
Solution for art in the class—mobile makerspace!
Now, some of these might sound as grand as a celebrity’s craft room, but the truth is, even teachers with tight budgets and tiny classrooms can join in the makerspace trend. They just have to get creative…and think small—not something you usually hear me say! 😉
The idea is simply to make readily available materials that provoke inquiry and tinkering. Some schools have transformed buses, vans, and trucks into mobile learning labs. But, it doesn’t have to be a permanent spot. A workbench or cart stocked with various art supplies will do the trick.
Use a cart on wheels, and you’ll have what’s officially known as a “mobile makerspace.” The perfect solution for those of us squeezed for space. Change out the supplies when you want to provide new opportunities and your students will thank you!
There are no rules for what to put in a mobile makerspace. Some in the mobile makerspace community offer high tech materials like animation software, 3D and laser printers, as well as tablets, laptops, and smartphones that make the space mobile in the modern sense.
But, old-fashioned art supplies—think pipe cleaners, popsicle sticks, crayons, markers, glue, construction paper, etc.—have a place there, too. In fact, experts say the “low tech” serves an important role in maintaining a creative environment where students can use their hands and visual-spatial skills to solve a variety of problems.
We need this now, more than ever!
For those just starting with a makerspace, or for whom technology is still new and overwhelming, it’s perfectly fine, and might even be better, to start with basic tools. Then, sit back and let the students create.
You’ll be amazed at what your students make from even the humblest of materials. You might even find yourself asking: Who needs a craft room, anyway?
No? Okay, fair enough! 😉
You can even have your students decorate the mobile cart for your mobile makerspace. One summer, I had my students create a Yayoi Kusama-inspired art installation (in the bathroom of my art studio), and since they were having so much fun, and we had leftover dot stickers, my students put a bit of Kusama-style bling on one of my mobile carts. Talk about fun!
The bottom line here, is that you can hardly go wrong in creating your own maker space—high tech, low tech, or anything in between. Just pick a space, add some interesting art supplies, and let your kids loose. They’ll love you for it!
Thank you for reading, and as always, thanks for making art with your kids!