Hands-on learning areas are essential parts of every classroom. After all, children learn best when they can play, create, and use their imaginations to bring their ideas to life. A makerspace wall is a great way to integrate hands-on learning, giving students a place to think, explore, and experiment.

Since makerspaces can come in all shapes and sizes, you don’t need to be intimidated by the thought of creating one in your classroom. Here is a quick guide to the why and how of creating a makerspace that your students will be begging to use.

Why have a makerspace?

There is so much research out there that shows how essential hands-on learning is for kids. When students can use their hands to see how things work and to make new things, they are more likely to capture the lessons they learn into their long-term memory. Makerspaces require students to think out of the box and build resilience, confidence, and problem-solving skills. When kids work together in a makerspace, they build relationships and learn the art of collaboration and compromise.

Having a makerspace also gives your students a place to try out new ideas, make connections between school, home, and the real world, and build their critical thinking skills. On top of all that, makerspaces are fun, and students who have fun are more likely to enjoy school and more likely to learn new things.

Where can I put a makerspace?

Some schools and teachers are lucky to have large classrooms where a corner can be dedicated to a makerspace. If you aren’t one of those lucky ones, you can create an awesome makerspace on a section of a classroom wall.

The size of the makerspace doesn’t matter – what you put in it and how the students can use it is what matters! Choose a wall that is easily accessible for your students. For example, if you teach early elementary, you’ll want a section of the wall that is low enough for students to reach the materials on their own. It should also be part of a wall that won’t get in the way of your daily activities, as well as one that the students can keep neat and tidy.

If you don’t have a wall available in your classroom, see if there is a wall somewhere in your school that you can use to make a shared makerspace for several classes.

How do I create a makerspace?

A pegboard is a must! You can attach containers with s-hooks and fill them with any number of materials. Tools attach well to a pegboard, too. If you have a foot or so of space in front of the wall, you can fill a bookshelf with containers of materials as well.

Rolling carts make a great addition, too. Hang some posters on the wall, add a few makerspace-related books, and you have a wall perfect for students to use to imagine and create.

What should I put in my makerspace?

The beauty of a makerspace is that you can put pretty much anything in it! (This would be a great opportunity for community members and parents to donate tools and materials.) Start with a variety of general

  • Basic craft supplies, such as:
    • paper
    • pencils
    • markers
    • scissors
    • tape
    • glue.
  • Cardboard boxes
  • Tubes
  • Yarn
  • Twine
  • String
  • Wire
  • Basic tools
  • Old toys
  • Popsicle sticks
  • Beads
  • Building blocks
  • Straws
  • Dough
  • Glitter
  • Hole punches
  • Nuts
  • Bolts
  • Foam
  • Magnets
  • Paper clips
  • Toothpicks
  • Cotton swabs
  • Pieces of wood (for older students)
  • Sandpaper (for older students)
  • Basic carving tools (for older students)

How do I maintain my makerspace?

Since students are the ones using the makerspace, they should be the ones in charge of putting all the supplies back in the correct spots, tidying up, and throwing away any trash. You might also rotate what’s in the makerspace, depending on what you’re teaching. Older kids might enjoy working with circuits if they are learning about electricity while younger children could make paper 3D shapes as an extension of basic geometry concepts. Label your bins and keep similar materials in close proximity to each other to reduce the mess and keep things organized.

The location of your makerspace, its size, and what you put in it are less important than the fact that you have one in your school somewhere! The educational benefits are enormous, and you never know which students in your class will use their makerspace time as a stepping stone to a future career.

How to upgrade your classroom with an amazing makerspace