Break and Make Workshop

One of my favourite workshops is the Break and Make. The title here explains it all. First, we "break". We put our safety glasses on, I hand out some basic consumer electronics, and away we go.

A successful Break and Make requires some prep work ahead of time. Before the workshop starts I take the time to:

  • Look at every item we're going to "break" and make sure the screws will turn
  • Cut off power cords and remove any batteries
  • Start anything that needs to be pried open or needs special tools
  • Package each item with the screwdriver they will need to get started

My goal is for the kids to be successful as they start to take things apart. I always pack a box of extra tools they'll need as they work their way in, but I make sure they can get started right away.

Safety first! Safety glasses go on before the packages are handed out. And safety glasses must stay on! It's hard to resist "prying" and those eyes need to be covered! Even if they are wearing glasses, safety glasses are a must. You'll feel much better when those keys start flying off the keyboards.

Good items to take apart are ones you use every day. Radios. Hair dryers. Keyboards are easy and very satisfying for the younger kids. Some electronics are not safe to take apart – TV's, monitors, anything that could shatter or hold a charge. As the kids are working, stop by and talk about what they're seeing. Ask questions – what could this do? What is this for?

Some kids will need encouragement to keep going. Some kids will be worried about "breaking" the item beyond repair. Others will take the "breaking" very literally. No – I don't take hammers to a Break and Make! Be prepared to step in and help when screws are tight or difficult to find.


Once we get everything mostly apart, it's time to start the art. I hand out pieces of foam core. I usually cut a full size poster board into smaller pieces. Heavy cardboard works too. You need something stiff to hold the heavier pieces and a lot of the pieces can actually be poked through the board.

The usual craft supplies are important – tape, markers, scissors, glue. I always take a couple of different types of glue and a hot glue gun. Tape and a glue stick will work for the majority of the artwork, but hot glue will stick a heavier item down without an extended dry time.

Resist the temptation to remove safety glasses! If someone is still taking apart or cutting, everyone needs to be wearing safety glasses.

Have fun! This is about exploration and play with learning along the way. It's okay if something breaks, that's the point.

Thanks to the Dunlop PS Primary Maker Club for the great art!







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