After participating in a Library 2 Learning Commons cohort meeting, a conversation arose around the topic of maker stations and cost. Knowing that these types of station can be quite elaborate and expensive, here are 5 station ideas that are not. Currently, these are all being used in a K-6 school, Keeler Elementary, in Calgary.
Aside from the tools, a take-a-part maker station is completely FREE! To get started with this, take a look around your home and/or school and bring in items that no longer work. If you are good at keeping your home free of clutter, let your staff know at a staff meeting, you are looking for donations.
If possible, when taking apart items, have students lay them out in the order in which they took them apart. For an additional challenge, then have them try to put the item back together.
Origami is almost free! Take a look on your book shelves to see if your school already has books on how to create origami art. If no luck there, books are quite inexpensive (the one below is a kit from Costco, priced at approximately $20), and instructions can easily be researched online and printed off. For paper, kids can use regular printer paper, butting it into squares. Alternatively, large books of paper can be purchased at Michaels.
Fractcal Paper Folding
Here is an easy and fun way to add some creativity to math while adding the maker touch. All you need to get started is a reference sheet (click here) and some paper. This process involves students to fold and make cuts to paper, which then produces 3D pop-up images. With a quick Google search, one can see just how complex this concept can be taken.
Green screens are cheap to introduce. In its most basic form, all you need is a large piece of green fabric. If you are on a tight budget, look in the bargain section at Fabricland. We purchased just one panel as we are an elementary school, but if you work with older learners or would like a larger space, purchased two panels and ask your staff if someone is good at sewing. If so, it is quite simple to sew the two pieces together and finish the edges. From here, you can hang this using staples, books or screws (if you put gromets in the fabric to hang it from). We purchased a cheap photography backdrop screen from eBay, about $30-$40, so ours can be portable. From here, all you need is a green screen app and an imagination. A great app is Green Screen by Do Ink, with a cost of $2.99.
Much like the origami, balloon animals are almost free! You book shelves may have a resource on how to create these nifty creatures, but if not, a quick search on Google can help. We also purchased a starter kit from Costco for approximately $15 (see picture below) and picked up additional balloons at Walmart for $3.00 a package, Each package also came with a balloon pump. What you will find to be the most difficult part as the teacher is having to tie the balloons for the kids. Students will be frustrated, but in a way the challenges them. Once they “get” how to make these animals, they will not want to stop!
To help with inspiration for both you and your students, a great children’s book to read is The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires. Take a look for this on you book shelves as well!