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Maker Movement Encourages Kids to Make Things

Not long ago, I wrote a post, at the request of a reader, about encouraging kids to craft, create and “actually make things.”  A few weeks later, the “maker movement” went viral when Caine’s Arcade, a short film about an enterprising nine year old’s cardboard creations, hit the web.  The film introduces us to young Caine Monroy who, armed with cardboard boxes and lots of packing tape, built an elaborate arcade in his father’s auto parts shop. The film has since gotten a lot of attention, from media outlets, as well as educators who are promoting the idea that informal learning, creating, and making things with their own hands is just as important as the formal education kids get in schools. The creativity and real-world skills children gain from this sort of unstructured productive play is invaluable, and may serve them well in their future careers; jobs which almost certainly will require technical skills, as well as workers who are inventive, adaptable, and creative.

Caine’s Arcade may have given the maker movement an (adorable) face, but it’s a trend that has been growing in popularity over several years. Its proponents say the desire to make things can ignite an interest in math and science in kids. Simply put, “making is learning,” says Dale Dougherty, founder of MAKE magazine. For creative kids and families, there are more resources than ever for encouraging young makers to create and DIY using ordinary found materials. You’ll find sources for project inspiration in my last post, and below you’ll find some ideas for connecting with other makers, and encouraging your child’s natural creativity and maker mentality.

  • Check out DIY.org. This new social network for creative kids is a safe and secure environment for kids to share their creations with the world. The site provides kids with an online portfolio for sharing their projects, while parents have access to a dashboard to monitor kids’ activity.
  • Visit a Maker Faire and get inspired by other’s projects. A “two-day, family-friendly festival of invention, creativity and resourcefulness” a maker faire is a great way to dip your toes in the maker movement and get ideas for your own projects. Big faires happen in the Bay Area and New York, but there are lots of “Mini Maker Faires” all over the country. Find one near you here.
  • Find a Young Makers club in your area and get the kids together to create and collaborate on projects. A collaboration between Maker Faire and the Exploratorium in San Francisco, there are dozens of clubs listed all over the country. If there’s not one in your area, the site also offers advice for starting your own.

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Photo by NYSCI / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

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Ashley MacQuarrie

Ashley MacQuarrie

Ashley MacQuarrie began writing professionally more than ten years ago and has covered education, technology, current events, pop culture, and other topics. A former homeschooler, she studied English and Film & New Media, graduating with a bachelor's degree from San Diego State University. Ashley has classroom experience working with children who have autism and other special needs. She has also tutored students from kindergarten through college and taught English to teens and adults at a language school in London.

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