Five Projects for Mini-Makers

The Minneapolis/St. Paul Mini Maker Faire is coming up this Saturday (June 3) and we are SO EXCITED to be one of this year’s exhibitors. We are all about makers here at The Works Museum, and this event is a great opportunity to introduce your kids to the creative (and fun) side of STEM. Don’t forget to stop by our booth and say hi! Today we’re highlighting a few different kinds of projects you can do with the kids at home to get in the Maker Faire Spirit.

Are You a Maker?

YES! I hear creative parents say all the time “I’m just not an artist/scientist/etc.” You don’t have to be a master craftsman or have an advanced degree to teach your children to be makers – you just have to like exploring and creating! Maker Faire puts it best – “If you are a tinkerer, coder, woodworker, crafter, farm hacker, artist, student, designer, chemist, roboticist, entrepreneur, scientist, food inventor, metalworker, educator, green technology creator, inventor, corporate designer or bicycle builder, you are a maker!”

LEGO Zipline

via Little Bins for Little Hands

If you’re a parent of school aged kids, chances are you’ve got LEGO pieces within arm’s reach at this exact moment. Add a pulley and rope (a clothesline kit will probably include both), and you’ve got a rainy day activity. Take turns building different structures, or see what kind of items your LEGOs can carry across the room. This project uses LEGOs, but you could use just about any building materials or toys you can find. It’s a sneaky way to incorporate a little physics lesson into play time.

Fabric Resist Projects

via Meri Cherry

I love fabric resist projects because they are so easily adaptable for different ages. If you have a toddler, you can do the “resist” part and let them cover the fabric in (nontoxic) paint. If your kids are older, they can do the project from start to finish. Even teenagers can step it up to make bags, pillows, or scarves out of the finished material. This specific project shows how to make throw pillows, but the sky’s the limit for what you can make using fabric resist techniques.

Note: I recommend washing the glue off by hand before putting the fabric in the washing machine.

Weaving

Via Art Bar Blog

Weaving is such a fantastic maker project – there’s so much to be learned from playing with pattern, texture, color, shape, and scale. It’s a perfect activity to do with kids because it’s nearly impossible to mess up. You can use whatever materials you have lying around the house and it still looks great. I’ve even seen people weave sticks and other objects into their projects! It’s also a great  activity to keep kids busy on a long car ride (maybe use something safer than a needle though).

Added incentive: weaving is having a major resurgence in home decor – so you can hang up your kid’s project AND be totally chic at the same time.

Straw Roller Coaster

Maker activity idea

via Frugal Fun 4 Boys

You know we can’t resist an engineering-focused project. This mini roller coaster costs practically nothing, is a fun creative activity, and has STEM written all over it. This is a great way to teach kids about physics and design (plus it makes me a little nostalgic for RollerCoaster Tycoon). As with most of these activities, you can adapt this project and use whatever materials you have around the house – K’nex, cardboard tubes, wooden dowels, etc.  

Tinker Trays

Maker activity idea

via Meri Cherry

This is one of my favorites because it’s so versatile. Kids don’t seem to have our structured mindset or inhibitions, and it’s incredible to see what they come up with when given an open-ended activity. Hand them a tinker tray and an activity suggestion, and they’ll make something amazing out of it. This is also a great way to clean out your junk drawer or use up supplies from old projects.

More please!

If you can’t get enough of these maker-focused projects, be sure to stop by the Mini Maker Faire! The Works will have a booth set up – so you know it will be a good time. As always, we’ll have plenty of hands-on activities for inquisitive kids – Shish-ka-ball, K’nex Racers, and Brain Flakes. Advance tickets for the Mini Maker Faire are available through June 2, and if you get a ticket bundle for the family, it can save you a bunch of money! If you can’t come to the Faire, The Works Museum is always a great place to inspire little makers.

Sat, June 3, 2017
10:00 AM – 6:00 PM CDT

Minnesota State Fairgrounds – Grandstand
West Dan Patch Ave & Liggett St
St Paul, Minnesota 55108

Maker Faire tickets on sale now!