Tuesday, January 26, 2016

The Way of the Lego

I've had some emails and Tweets lately asking how do I manage the LEGO portion of our Makerspace area, so I thought I would share with you...

The Way of the Lego. 

Questions:
How did you set up your Lego Creation Station?  
Did you start with a Lego Wall? 
Aren't there problems with stray pieces?
How do you manage the Makerspace?
What did you buy?  
..............and what are the rules?

When I first started the Makerspace, inspired by my PLN, I had a very small budget and a admittedly a rather large dose of skepticism that all this Makerspace folderoll could just be another fad or Ed Tech buzzword. Like the $11,000 Smart Board everyone just HAD to have 10 years ago that seemed to end up as a very expensive white board a few years later. But I did want to give it a whirl!  

The reason I often talk about baby-steppin into Makerspace (or any new education innovation) is because I don't want you to feel like pressured or guilted into jumping into something new or spending thousands of dollars right away. I want you to know that though I'm daring, I'm also cautious and considering.  Remember, you can date new technology (or innovation) you don't have to marry it!

Answers!
How did you set up your Lego Creation Station? 
I used an empty quartet of study carrels at the top of my school library with laminated butcher paper to cover & our guidelines posted. It's situated in our Fiction section and right near our Anime & Graphic Novel collection. It's also near our Circ desk so we can keep a sharp eye on the kiddos to make sure they're having fun & following our guidelines.

Lego Wall from the HGTV show Fixer Upper

Did you start with a Lego Wall? 
Well, my friend the Mighty Little Librarian Tiff did and a few others, too!  But, I don't really have the wall space in my library plus I didn't want to glue something up - only later lament and take it down if it didn't pan our or went out of fashion.

Lego Walls ALL the Rage!
But they're all the rage right now! I'd suggest doing what Tiff did and mount plywood on the wall first, the mastic the baseplates to the plywood!
See picture above how Chip & Joanna Gaines did it in a recent episode of Fixer Upper! So cute with the baskets!  I love that show, but it was hilarious how Joanna had her kiddos do the Legos first, but after they left she took it all down & did the beautiful big one pictured above herself - not that I approve that kind of OCD perfectionism! No, not me! [grins]

Stray Pieces
Things to consider with a Lego wall - what if the kiddos create something naughty? Well, just as with graffiti - there's a consequence.  Don't LEGO pieces get strewn all over the floor? Sure! Have you ever stepped on a LEGO piece? Ouchie! That's why having baskets at the bottom of the wall to sort the different colours is a good idea! I would also have a dustpan & brush nearby, or hire a couple kids to be LEGO wall managers - who keep it nice and get first crack at creating a new picture!

How do you manage a Makerspace?
Kids can come to the Library before home room, during any class with a pass when they finish their work (standardized testing permitting), and during most all recess times - coverage permitting. (I have 7th grade lunch duty so I rely on volunteers during my
shift) This is a time for them to check out books, read, recharge their devices, play games, and work with the Makerspace stations! It's not quiet. And thats....OK!

There is no "makerspace class" it's a resource kids can come to when they have time. It's been used as a reward for some of our kids who have special needs or who are on the spectrum. They really respond to it very positively. I even got a kiddo to to finish his MAP test who was ready to give up by saying he could work with the LEGOS afterwards if he did his very best.


What do you buy?
I got just enough to get a start on it, plus the cool smiley head storage bucket. The whole list can be found on my Amazon Wish List & more in a recent blog post: Makerspace Starter Kit
..............and what are the rules?

Rules? There Are NO Stinkin' RULES! 
Ok, that's not really true - there are, but I call them guidelines. Heh heh heh.

 

When I started up the area, I didn't have any rules, I just said to the kids "here's all this cool stuff, some books for inspiration, play with it, figure it out, and have fun!" .....but after a couple months of a wasted materials (ex: uncompleted duct tape raincoats that ended up in a sticky ball) and some messy LEGO behavior, I realized we did indeed need a few guidelines. Here they are:-----

As part of our Lego Creation Station Community, we have a few guidelines that you must agree to: 

Share 
 Be willing to create and build with another student. 
Be neat 
Put ALL STRAY LEGO Pieces away 
before you leave- That's nice! 
Celebrity Status
You must agree that your creations belong to the Library Media Center and with the understood permission that we may Instagram, Vine, Photograph, Blog, Tweet, & share your creations to the world. They may also be taken apart by another student to make another creation. That's the way of the LEGO. 
Have Fun! 
If you're not having fun, being nice, neat, generous, sharing, and cool - we may ask you to leave our Makerspace community. That's on you. So be cool - don't be all uncool! Thank you! 


Simple stuff, really! So the kids would feel ownership & a buy into these guidelines, I crowdsourced with the kiddos during recess to make the list, & then added my own twist to it - with a little help from the Countess LuAnn De LesSeps for the all uncool part!


Printables! Take the poster! 
I created a Colour version that is poster sized and a cheaper to print Black & White version for easy printing. All Creative Commons, take, use, & share! If you do use them in your Makerspace area or adapt them, I'd love to see pictures! I may even post them here!

I invite you to also see the Zen of Coloring
Remember, you can date new technology (or innovation) you don't have to marry it! 

Your turn! 
How do you run your Makerspace area? Do you have a LEGO wall? Do the pieces go everywhere? Do kids create naughty designs? What are your non-rules, rules? What should I add next? What questions do you still have? Am I too OCD about neatness? lol I'd love to hear from you in the comments!

As promised!


Resources

 


 


4 comments:

  1. This is awesome! It's amazing that you are so creative and resourceful when putting together these makerspaces for your students. I wish I had a lego space when I was in school! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Torsh! Thank you for your comment! I didn't have any LEGO or Makerspaces when I was at school, either. But, I did check out a lot of crafty books and did some at home! The kids really seem to enjoy it. Thanks again for your readership - stay in touch! If you follow me on Twitter, I promise to follow back. Cheers!
      @GwynethJones

      Delete
  2. Hello,
    I am a student in High School, and I grew up playing with legos. I love that you have put an area for your students to play with them in your library! I believe that legos help to unleash the creativity in the young people of our country, and with you helping them I'm sure they are doing very well! I enjoy seeing a librarian support the children in a school and helping them along the path to greatness! I also appreciate how you have created this blog to help share your ideas, and hopefully other librarians that see this blog pick up on some of your great ideas! One question I have for you is whether the students ever get distracted by the legos and end up not finishing their work, because they are young and I feel that having toys nearby gives them a chance to not do their work. Does this happen? Anyways, keep up the great work! Your students are lucky to have you!
    ~Adam

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    Replies
    1. Hey there, Adam! I really appreciate your comment, thank you so much!

      Kids can't come to the library to work with our Makerspace area (LEGO's, Coloring, Robotics, etc.) UNTIL they finish their schoolwork. Or, they come in the morning before home room or during their recess time after they eat lunch!

      Thank you so much for your kind words of encouragement, they mean the world to me!

      Cheers!
      ~Gwyneth Jones

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