By Preston Frazier / April 16, 2020

Making the best of it: Makerspace at home activities

“The beautiful thing about learning is that nobody can take it away from you.”
― B.B. King

Life has thrown us a curveball. I think we would all agree with that. We are in the middle of something that we have never seen before and most likely will never see again. 

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020, schools, restaurants, and many businesses have closed. In many states, people have been told to stay home and practice social distancing to avoid the spread of the virus. Life has changed from normal to far from normal in the blink of an eye, but within all that rapid change lies many opportunities. 

  • An opportunity to adapt.
  • An opportunity to spend more time with the ones we love most.
  • An opportunity to reflect.
  • An opportunity to try to make the best of a tough situation.

From an educational perspective, educators from all over the world are having to adapt and still find creative ways to engage and ensure the success of their students, while helping them continue to learn. Homes have transitioned to schools overnight, and parents are looking for new ways to support learning as well. We are all seeking ways to guide students in a time of learning differently.

The World Might Be Paused, but Learning Isn’t

And, still, learning continues; it doesn’t stop. It can happen anywhere! No one and nothing can take learning away from us, and that’s a beautiful thing. So, even though the environments and circumstances are different, let’s make learning fun! And, even, better – hands on!

Our latest Maker Space catalog came out in early March, and it’s filled with kits and materials perfect for a robust maker ed experience. You can still snag a copy of that catalog or explore the options. But right now, I want to give you a look at my top three maker activities from the catalog and how you can do them at home with household items.

Let’s get to making – and make the best of this interesting situation.

My All-Time Favorite Hands-On-at-Home Activities

  1. One activity you can do at home is create, design, and engineer your very own sail car. Download the activity card here from our STEM @ Home site. You can use Google and search for examples, but the fun in this activity is looking into all the variables that can enhance or reduce your car’s performance.

    Try different materials for your sail, wheels, or any other part of the car. To make it even more fun and interesting, you can design a scavenger hunt to find various materials around the house that may be used. If you want to take it up a notch, you can log data on how far your car goes using a cardboard sail versus a paper sail or something similar. The data will then show you which variables impact the performance the most.
    There are many STEM applications within this simple exercise and activity. For additional inspiration and activities, you can download our FREE Sail Car Elementary STEM Activity Guide.

  2. Something else you might be able to do during this time is to tie in some civil engineering and build a bridge. Bridge building is an extremely popular pick in the classroom, but it can be just as successful at home. Designing and engineering a bridge ties in many STEM concepts.
    Since the weather is becoming better by the day, I would suggest tying nature into this activity. Instead of finding materials inside the house that can be used, find materials outside in nature that can be used to build and construct a bridge. How fun is that?! While this might seem a bit more challenging, it will give your kid a chance to be challenged while also getting a healthy dose of Vitamin D. During this time, it is necessary to get your kids outside for a bit!

    For an additional resource available for free download, please look here at our Bridge Book.

  3. The next activity you might try is probably my favorite. I am the father to a three-year-old daughter (soon-to-be teenager) and a five-month-old son. My three-year-old loves to build forts in the living room, and let me tell you, I am becoming quite the master blanket fort builder (at least in my own little world!). Building a fort is great fun because you can use anything from blankets to boxes to dining room chairs and anything in between.
    While my experience with fort building is with a little one, I have a few ideas on how to extend learning for advanced builders or older students:
    • Sketch a blueprint for the fort. This is the engineering design process at work, and it can open up discussion about prototyping too.
    • Connect fort building to history. Explore how forts were used in the past as protection for large groups of people and villages.
    • Learn more about the different machines that were also used to protect the fort. For example, allow students to make a catapult or a trebuchet and go through some of the valuable STEM concepts associated within that. 
    • You can even create a competition among all your students to build a catapult. After it is built, they could video record their catapult launching the projectile, and they must measure the distance. You can then virtually share the results in your digital learning environment.
    • For a little assistance with the valuable STEM concepts of siege machines, please download our Catapults Teacher’s Guide.

Making Made for You

Well, I hope these activities have inspired you to MAKE the best of the situation we are in. Of course, there are so many other activities you can do at home and so many other ways to create your own maker environment. We’d love to hear from you about what you are doing to learn and have fun during this time. Please share the good times in the comments below!

And, always remember, while you’re at home, don’t forget to learn, have fun, and enjoy all this extra time with the ones you love.

For additional activities to assist with learning at home, don’t forget to look at our brand-new STEM @ Home resource. Here you will find giveaways, more hands-on lessons, and other great STEM ideas!



TOPICS: BEYOND THE CLASSROOM, IDEAS & INSPIRATION, Teacher Resources, Makerspace, Makerspaces, STEM, Trends, Resources, Activities, 21st Century Skills, Maker Ed, Hands-on Learning, STEAM, innovate

Preston Frazier

Written by Preston Frazier

Hi all! I’m one of Pitsco’s educational account representatives and have the pleasure of serving the Midwest. I travel quite a bit visiting with teachers, and presenting at workshops whenever I have the opportunity to do so. I’m an alum of the University of Missouri and Pittsburg State University and a supporter of our Big Brothers Big Sisters local chapter. I love traveling, going to sporting events, and hanging out with my wife and daughter whenever possible.