We built a Makerspace in our elementary school! And it has been such a transformative space for our students. I wrote a Fractus post on our journey earlier this year, and since then, the space has been buzzing with excitement.
Most days, the Makerspace is open in the morning as students arrive to school, and I simply monitor the making, creating, tinkering with the many materials and technology available during the time we have together. Teachers have been taking their classes into the space, not only for free exploration and making, but also for design challenges aligned to standards.
We held a Family Makerspace Night, bringing families into our Makerspace to see what the space is all about, making and creating together as a family.
After that evening, donations have come in from families and the community. Our Makerspace was featured in our local newspaper and presented to our school board, and we even built a Google site to share our story, highlighting student work.
It has been a very successful few months for our Makerspace! And while change is not always easy, we have supported each other and our students through this new way of thinking about learning and making. We have begun to recognize the importance of students figuring out solutions on their own, not being fed content all day, but becoming a part of the content filling their minds.
We built a Makerspace in our elementary school. And it has been transformative!
Yet, the beauty of a Makerspace is that the space is never “done”. This space should grow with our students, always pulling in new materials and technology so that our students can continually be pushed in their making abilities. The Learning Lab Makerspace team is continually finding ways to integrate the space into our daily instruction. Even more than that, we are always looking for new materials and technology for our students to explore.
So, in order to model the importance of continually changing and adapting to our students’ needs, we began with a dream of mine – building a Lego wall.
Legos are a timeless classic for creativity, building, and fun. Kids of all ages enjoy this magnificent toy. For many, Legos come with a set of instructions and a product to build. Other times, kids have free reign on their creativity in order to build something new and different.
In our school’s Makerspace, Legos are a staple in our building station. Kids can create whatever they wish with Legos and even integrate those Legos with other materials for their project. With the inspiration of others online and on TV, we decided to put our Legos on the wall. Putting Legos on the wall not only is something new and different for our kids to experience, but it is also a space saver. Students can build on the wall, creating interesting artwork, simply creating anything new with Legos.
We made a HUGE Lego wall! And here is how we did it.
With the inspiration of Diana Redina’s Renovated Learning site and amazing how-to blog post, we began with the vision of where to build our own Lego wall. First, we needed to measure how much space and how large we wanted to create our wall. Since we are an elementary school, I wanted to make sure even our youngest students could enjoy the full expanse of the wall. We kept the wall about a foot from the ground for our youngest students. Then, even our oldest students could enjoy all areas of the wall as well. Our wall is a little over 8 feet in length, and 5 feet in height. Our wall is wider, rather than taller, ensuring many students could be working at the wall at one particular time.
Once we had the concept of where we would build our Lego wall and how large we were going to make it, we had to order our materials.
Our materials are:
- ½ inch floor grade plywood sheet(s)
- Green 10”X10” Lego plates
- Liquid nails or construction adhesive
- Caulking gun
- Thin, ½ inch wood trim
- Classic Lego pieces
With my vision and the handyman skills of our maintenance director, we used the half-inch floor grade plywood and bolted it to the wall, of course making sure it was level. Beginning with our first sheet of wood, we placed the Lego plates on the board with either liquid nails or a strong construction adhesive. A small gap in between each Lego plate was needed in order to ensure Legos would connect between the plates. So, as plates were placed on the wall, the classic Lego pieces were used to make sure spacing was just right.
Once the first sheet of wood was nearly full, we measured and cut another sheet of wood, filling in the rest of the space according to the number of Lego plates we planned to use. After bolting those additional pieces to the wall, the rest of the Lego plates were put into place, again using the Lego pieces to ensure proper spacing in between each plate.
Once all the plates were in place, a small wood trim was nailed around the board to frame the Lego wall, finishing the wall nicely. After about 24 to 36 hours of drying the Lego wall was ready to use.
And it is just that simple.
The students’ first encounter with the Lego wall has been interesting to watch, as many of them did not know what to start creating as their minds were swirling around the concept of building vertically. However, with a few days under our belt, more ideas have been discussed, starting the creation of pictures and words.
Our Makerspace will continue to evolve with our students. It is an exciting adventure to see it unfold!
Feature image courtesy of Flickr, qrevolution.