5 tips for creating a makerspace for less than the cost of an iPad

You don’t need power tools and 3D printers to start a makerspace. Instead, get creative

Where others see trash, I see treasure. Reusing, repurposing, and recycling items that can be found in the kitchen garbage can, on the curb, or collected by friends and families helps educators to save money while protecting the environment.

Today, our library makerspace has developed into a 21st century learning laboratory, with funding from grants and through the generosity of individuals and organizations that support our DonorsChoose projects. But it wasn’t always this way.

In 2013, I began creating a makerspace in our library with only recyclables such as yogurt containers, bottle caps, and toilet paper tubes that I had been saving over the summer. I scoured the library storage cabinets to find office supplies such as markers, crayons, paper clips, rubber bands, glue, and scissors. Then I began raiding my own craft supplies. There was a physical space, and students were making things. I had a makerspace.

By now you have probably heard about makerspaces, and you might even want to create one in your library or classroom (or even in your own home!). At first, just knowing where to start can seem overwhelming. You’ll likely read many blogs and books, follow maker educators through social media, and attend webinars and workshops. You will either become energized at the thought of embarking on this journey, or else paralyzed with fear that your makerspace will never be good enough. Here are some simple tips to help you along.

You can make with anything

The first fire was made by only rubbing sticks with flint. With paper, your students can make origami cranes. With wrapping paper tubes they can make roller coasters. And with unmatched socks they can make water bottle cozies. Rather than focusing on the expensive technology you don’t have, find ways that you can recycle, reuse, and repurpose. When iPad time is over in my house, and my children are bored playing with their toys, they almost always find themselves digging through the “Invention Box” in our living room to create a Statue of Liberty torch with only duct tape and two water bottles. If you don’t already, start checking out the craft aisle of your local dollar store. Keep your eyes open for sales, coupons, and clearance stickers. Join the Freecycle Network at and check the free items postings regularly on Craigslist. You’ll never know what you might find.

Next page: Create a space anywhere

[image via 5chw4r7z/flickr]

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