Makerspaces Failure & Success: The Only Way to Learn

For the last two years our district has been integrating the #makerspace movement into our libraries.  I love it!  Here is a quick blog post about some of my successes and failures throughout the journey.

Makerspace Logistics

  • Audience: Grades K-5
  • Structure: During checkout, half of the students checkout while the other half do makerspaces, then they swap places.  Some teachers come for 20 minutes, others come for 30 minutes.  Some teachers don’t do them at all.  I am hoping to change that by getting feedback from teachers after this year.
  • Management:  I have suggested that teachers split boy/girl so that they can tell who is at makerspaces and who is checking out more easily.  A few kids like to double dip on their makerspace time.  Our library is full of energy and…noise.  Our makerspaces are independent work spaces where students can learn, create, share, and have fun.

Failure & Success

#1: Lanyards, vests, anything kids have to wear to identify them at a makerspace, makes for a lot of work on the librarian’s side of things.  The best solution I have found for this is a whiteboard with the different makerspaces listed and how many spots are at each makerspace in Sharpie marker.  Students write their names or class numbers next to the makerspace spot they are at and head on their way.  I do have to rewrite this because Expo over Sharpie=erasing, but it is much easier than making and laminating tags for lanyards!

#2: Take-Apart Technology stations should really be monitored.  Real tools in the hands of first graders without direct supervision can get a little dicey.  It was worth a try and the kids loved it, but next time it will be a club where I can directly monitor the students!

#3: Some of the best makerspaces are FREE!!!  My students LOVE the paper airplane makerspace.  To control flight patterns, I place a target on the window in hopes they will aim for that.  Service centered makerspaces, such as holiday cards for the homeless, is always a highlight.

#4: All children, K-5 love puppets.  It sounds silly and I think our intermediate grade teachers secretly hate the puppets, but I love that 5th graders get into it.  Sure they are being silly and laughing, but childhood flies by too fast.  I say let the kids play!  Puppets and legos are the only two makerspaces that stick around all year.  The other 3-4 change about every 2 months.

#5: I typically have a vision for how I want a makerspace to go, but the students find their own vision.  Something I have learned is to LET GO!  Sure, they may not be building the exact replica of the GoldieBlox design, but they are probably making something pretty cool!

#6: TAPE. Kids love tape.  Beware of the tape.

#7: Video taping how the makerspaces work is helpful for teachers and students. I have posted the videos on the library facebook page for parents as well.  I started out strong this year, but then…school happened. My goal is to get back to this in August.

#8: Some things that didn’t go as smoothly as I had hoped as independent spaces for students. Makey Makey, Spheros, Little Bits, and green screen (Do Ink App).  These need a little more guidance next year and may be clubs with solid introductions or classroom lessons prior to incorporating them into makerspaces.

#9: One of my favorite makerspaces is the Imagination Playground.  Our PTO bought this for the school and it is AMAZING.  I love the collaboration it creates and creativity it fosters.  We have the large blocks.  I’d really love my own set.  Hint, hint.

#10: Signage.  This is my weak area.  I am not a crafty design person and students love to manipulate (erase, rewrite, move) signage that isn’t permanent. I have tried plastic stands, which work pretty well, but they often get overlooked. I don’t see this as a huge issue, but it is something I strive to improve.

Have any questions or feedback?  Feel free to hit me up on Twitter @mediaspecjess or email me at


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