By Elizabeth Wroten
Notes From the Makerspace: New Space!!
On 12, Feb 2015 | In Redux | By Elizabeth Wroten
So since I posted last about the Makerspace we have moved into our forever home. Hooray! There were just a few thoughts I wanted to share on setting up the new space and its pluses and minuses and also a bit of reflection on how the Makerspace ran for the first part of the year.
I think I touched on this in a previous post, but we lived out of bins at the start of the school year. It was not ideal, but it definitely worked. If you don’t have a permanent space it’s a great alternative. My one piece of advice is to be sure you advocate for enough space to store a fair number of bins. I had to reduce my storage footprint in the classroom which meant the bins had to be packed just so to fit. It was a like a brain-teaser puzzle. Set up took at least a half hour while I meticulously unpacked each bin so the supplies were out and available to the kids. This also meant it was nearly impossible for me to have the kids help clean up, so I would spend an hour and a half after they left cleaning, sorting, and arranging our supplies until they fit. I often found myself throwing things away to both make the clean up process go faster and because I just couldn’t get it to fit. It was frustrating, but the kids were happy and that was what was important. If you can have bins, but don’t have to fit everything in perfectly it will make this type of storage so much easier and you’ll be able to have the kids help clean.
Our new space is not entirely ours (which is totally reasonable as we’re only there one afternoon a week), but we have been given a slice of counters and cabinets. I was able to move out of the bins and into the drawers and cabinets. I sorted our supplies and now instead of having to take everything out of the bins I labeled their places and the kids can find tools and supplies on their own. My advice here is be sure the kids know where stuff is and don’t pack it in too tightly if you can help it. It will be the bins all over again.
I still have large bins with miscellaneous bits, cardboard/paper, and fabric which I lift down off the counter. I also still have to get out and set up the sewing machines and few things that are stored too high for the kids to reach, but set up takes almost no time. And clean up! The kids can help! And they totally do. I haven’t bragged much about my kids before, but they are fabulous, wonderful, amazing! When we moved in I told them I would be stopping them about ten minutes early to start cleaning up and they totally rose to the task. Of course there is always one kid (never the same kid) who is up against the clock trying to finish before they have to leave and I let them go. I’m more interested in letting them give in to their creativity and focus than forcing them to clean up. They always end up helping the next week anyway.
A word about tables. You can use any table really, but you want some that are fairly stable and large. The tables in the art room were awesome. The kids could clamp down a piece of wood and saw away without the table budging. Our new tables, not so much. But they work so I’m not complaining. Our new tables are also a bit shallow, but again they work fine. Finally, if you have younger students, have a shorter table if possible. The regular height tables are fine for sitting and working at, but if they need leverage to saw or hammer or anything, they’re at a distinct disadvantage. We’ve had this problem in both rooms and my solution is to help them saw. Again, it works fine, but in an ideal world we’d have a short junky table for using the tools on. If you have options just keep these things in mind.