Rodriguez Library’s schedule is based around giving the kids the ability to take things home. It started a few months ago, when i realized the reason Perler Beads wer so popular. While I tried to tamper down the kids desire to just puts some beads on the board and iron it down with as little effort as possible, it told me that what they wanted more than the experience was the product. That was fine. Even though they weren’t concerned with the task, they would still have to perform it to get something out of it in the end.
All of this reminded me that the importance of giving Makers the option to take things home is giving them a token of their achievement, and their experience that they had in our Makerspace. A common response a Maker has to something they can take home is that it will hang up on their wall, will decorate their own pspace, or will be given away as a gift. Their desire for tangible keepsakes is there, and it is consistent. That is how I began to direct the curriculum I use at Rodriguez.
I have tested a few projects over the past months that would give them the opportunity. Some of them aren’t sufficient enough–products that aren’t long lasting, complicated steps that require too much time, or small products that are hard to keep up with. The Watercolor Paper curriculum is a good example. It takes little enough effort and time that kids will try it, but it’s too short, and in the end they only have a (nice) piece of paper. It would be better to add another lesson or craft in addition to this, like making cards or making paper. On the opposite end, Miniature Notebooks take too much time and effort with rigid rules and limited decorative options. Multiple kids wouldn’t enjoy this, while a kid already interested would be excited about the opportunity.
Overall, the curriculum that worked were the ones that Makers could invest in enough time in and finish with a significant product without a strenuous amount of effort. Activities that fall into this category are:
Air Dry Clay
Knit Blankets for Dolls
These are the projects that are the most popular, and that Makers get the most excited about. While we still do other projects that are collaborative or big efforts (and thus cannot be taken home), these are a staple for our Makers every week. Hopefully we can keep going, and find even more fun projects next month!