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Help ... I Don't ♥ My Makerspaces!

When the students used the Makerspaces in the library well, Makerspaces were everything that I wanted them to be … creative and thoughtful spaces for the kids to express themselves! They were centers of learning and making. There were ingenious structures, beautiful creations, and thought-provoking problems to be solved! However, more often then not, they seemed to be everything that I did NOT want them to be.

At times, kids were coming into the library to use the Makerspaces and simply wasting THEIR time and MY materials. There was so much LOUD silly talk between friends {not the quiet buzz of collaboration}, so many thrown-out and thoughtless projects in my garbage, and so much of the SAME thing. The same kids would come in and use the same materials in the very same way. Every. Single. Time. It began to feel as if the kids were just using the library as a way of getting out of class, as a place to chat with their friends, or a place to chill out.  All of which were perfectly fine, but NOT what I had advertised that my Makerspaces would be when I convinced teachers to share their most important commodity, time with their students, with me and the library’s new adventure into making. I promised them purposeful play, and I wasn’t feeling it!! I knew that something had to change. That’s when I brainstormed the Maker Map.

This single document has truly revolutionized my Makerspace Program and maximized it to be 10 times better then I believed that it could ever be. Maker Maps are simply a map of Makerspace challenges that utilize the different materials and centers that I have in the library. They work because they give kids purpose and meaning to their play. They force students out of their comfort zone and push them to use materials that they might not choose on their own. They make them think!! Yet, at the same time, Maker Maps give the students choice, choice of building materials and structure within parameters set by me. The maps encourage students to make, create, and build the types of structures that I wanted to see but hadn’t been seeing!

Here are a few examples of building challenges on the first map …
   (1) Use any building material of your choice to create a model of your name.
   (2) Use Legos to create a vehicle that moves and is at least 3 x 5 inches in size.
   (3) Use magnetic tiles to create a castle with at least two towers.
   (4) Play a board/card game with a friend.
   (5) Complete at least 2 Q-bitz cards.

Each challenge was created with the purpose of maximizing the existing library Makerspace materials, tapping into STEM challenges, and encouraging collaboration.

Some of you may be thinking ... "Doesn't THIS go against the very nature of the Makerspace? Shouldn't students have the opportunity to explore their own interests? Don't you believe that students shouldn't be pursuing authenticity in their learning?" Yes! Yes, I do! But, I have had to come to terms that I am running a three ring circus in my library. I am collaborating, teaching, booktalking ... all nearly simultaneously!! I desperately needed to bring order to the chaos.

If you are interested in learning MORE about how I manage my Maker Map system, head on over to my TpT Store and download the FREE preview. It contains a peek at the Maps and a FREE Makerspace Manual that answers my most frequently asked questions!!

With that Free Maker Manual, you can establish your very own system of Maker Maps!!