When I started my current position as YS Coordinator, my library didn’t offer regular, ongoing, school age programs. I quickly started both a Lego Club and a Maker Monday program. Here is how I describe the program in our advertising:
Participate in our pop-up maker space with making, tinkering, and STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) activities that will help teach new skills and literacies.
The program is held once a month after school on Mondays, our early release day, for an hour, although it is usually a little slow starting as kids trickle in from school. It is open to kids in 2nd through 12th grade, and my aim is to get kids working together across grades and schools. So far the only high schoolers I’ve had work for Park & Rec and bring some elementary kids, but they participate and have fun too! We’ve also gotten a fair number of middle schoolers involved, and its great to see them playing along. Each month we focus on different themes and have a different activity:
For the first Maker Monday, I decided to do programming, inspired by Miss Meg. We only have a few available laptops and ipads, and I had no idea how many kids to expect, so I adapted the board game Robot Turtles for individual play, painted the toes of 30 plastic frogs, and gave the kids challenges to get their frog to a cupcake!
I had created 5 levels to start, but quickly realized that I had grossly underestimated the kids. They zoomed through my levels, but then were perfectly content making additional challenges for each other and for me. If I do this again (which I probably will, I’m starting a maker program for homeschool families), I would add in more elements and have them work together in different ways.
Next up, we looked at building with marble runs! I raided our supplies for a ton of toilet paper tubes and lots of other fun stuff, set up three tables on a slant, and created challenges for the longest marble run to make sure they didn’t just slap some tubes on the table in a straight line. This was a fun one, because they had to work on teams, and all the kids ended up with new people and different ages in their group. They could have used a little more time on this one, but everyone had a working marble run by the end. I made a video, and they loved knowing they could share it with their parents.
Stop Motion Animation For this Maker Monday, I used the free app Stop Motion and all the staff ipads I could get my hands on, plus my own personal ipad. I didn’t have good stands for the ipads, which would definitely help, but we made do with book easels and sign holders as back drops. I put out a bunch of clay, paper and markers, random stuff from the work room, and all of my carefully hoarded Lego people.
I showed an example of stop motion that I made, and talked about the process first. The kids worked in groups of 3-6, and were supposed to storyboard their video before filming. All the ipads were set to Guided Access, and we had a few issues with audio (couldn’t get it working) and speed of the playback (too fast at first), but eventually everyone ended up with a fun story in our final video.
Cardboard Box Creations
This was the first day back after winter break, and I anticipated a small group– and ended up with only 6 kids. For about a month I had everyone in the library saving cardboard boxes for me. I put out a huge pile, along with duct tape, markers, scissors, pipe cleaners, and some other random decorating supplies. My only prompt was to build something! I walked around with a box cutter and helped when needed, and the kids shared ideas and chatted together the whole time. This was a big hit; they pleaded for more time, kept working after the program, and then helped carry out the creations to display in the children’s room.