It's All About The Space: What Works When You're Making With Kids

When we started Maker Junior, we were very specific about not opening a kids makerspace. We felt that we would be able to have a wider reach if we went to the kids, instead of waiting for the kids to come to us. This has worked well so far. Last year we were able to work with over 700 kids of all ages and backgrounds. (Wow!) We visit schools, libraries, and community centres. I've set up in classrooms, activity rooms, church basements, and gyms. I've also set up in makerspaces, art rooms, agricultural halls (um, kinda like a barn but bigger), and entry halls. Some rooms are bare. Some rooms are so full of stuff we can barely move around. Some places are so large we've had to use sound systems to be heard.

Big Space - for Maker Faire OttawaBare Space More space - with a Makey Makey game laid out

This is my favourite space to work in. It's the art room at a local church. I love the counters. I love the tables - I especially love that they don't show marks. I only wish the supplies on the shelves were mine! There's not space for reading books - but I usually perch on a filing cabinet so everyone can see.

My favourite space - an art room

We can make any space work. But some spaces I like better than others. Over time I've definitely come up with a list of things that work. If I ever have my own space, this is what I would like:

  • Counters. I like counters, with electrical outlets. Great for working and setting out the supplies that are being used.
  • Tables. Chairs are nice, but when you're working with little kids, sometimes they are not necessary. Sometimes it is easier to stand at a table and work then sit in a chair that is too big for you at a table that is too high for you.
  • Carpet space. Carpets are a pain for working on because they collect the bits and pieces. But carpets are great for sharing or instructions or telling a story.
  • Shelving. Lots and lots of shelving for supplies. There are so many supplies in a maker space.
  • Display space. For photos or objects. For inspiration.
  • Screens, wifi, charging stations. For charging computers. For showing photos or videos. Lots of times we're crowded around my laptop, tablet or phone screen loading glitchy videos. 
  • Garbage and recycling bins. Not every space has these. Crazy, I know.
  • Windows. For light and ventilation.
  • Sink. Really? Yup. For cleaning up and experiments. It's great to have a water source in the room.
  • Coat rack/hooks for coats, backpacks and boots. I might not have thought of that one in the summer.


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