All elementary school librarians have been there. You’re preoccupied with the checkout procedure and all Hell breaks loose. The attention-seeking, impulsive kid has found some recruits for a quick lesson in Boredom Prevention 101. Of course, they’re the kids who never return their library books so have nothing to do for the 15 minutes of checkout time. Instead, they hog the bean bag chairs which are reserved for readers. They yell at each other across the room. They play their own versions of musical chairs and tag. All of this to stave off boredom.
Let’s face it. A lot of older elementary kids, especially boys, would rather do just about anything than sit quietly with a book. The good news is that they can be enticed to sit quietly, but it takes a little creativity. Enter the modern age of innovation. Mini makerspaces can be just the activity that will turn on those chaos-loving brains, but a little structure must be in place to prevent a full-on nuclear war at the maker station. In fact, I don’t recommend an actual makerspace for kids until they reach an age where they appreciate the necessity to pick up after themselves.
Mini maker stations consist of a box of supplies that are put together by the librarian to work on a specific skill. These boxes are placed in the middle of several tables and students can work on the activity in lieu of checking out books. Pinterest is full of excellent ideas. Here are a few of my favorite activities that are sure to engage those rowdy ruffians.
Christmas Light Circuits
Nuts and Bolt Tinkering
Book Page Origami
The best activities don’t use consumables, so cost is kept to a minimum once the materials for the initial kit are purchased. The main idea is for kids to tinker. Kits that have multiple activity cards can stay out for several weeks. Otherwise they should be changed out frequently so kids don’t get bored and go back to disrupting the peace of those around them. Enjoy and have fun with it. Your kids will love you for it!