For the past 5 years I have taught art and managed art studios and makerspaces designed with kids in mind. One question I am asked frequently at my job is,
“How could I set up a small makerspace for my kids at home?”
Well today I thought I would offer a few tips to get you started. First off there is no correct way to do this. Makerspaces will be as different as are the individuals who use them. Think about your kids. What are their interests? Do they love to paint or do they prefer to build things? Do they enjoy using new tools? Drawing? The main goal is to spark their creative interest so beginning with something they are already familiar with can be a great place to start. New items and supplies can always be added or changed out as time passes. In fact changing out items can lead to new challenges, keeping the makerspace fresh and interesting!
My Favorite art supplies to begin with:
- Tempera paint, I love Blick student grade paints. They are bright, offer great coverage, don’t crack, and are some of the more washable paints I have found.
- Watercolors. I enjoy both liquid watercolors and pan watercolors. I have linked to some reasonably priced favorites.
- Good paper. Thick nice mixed media paper is great for most painting. I prefer SAX 80# or higher grade paper. Watercolor paper is great but a bit pricier.
- basic crayons, Crayolas are great
- Colored pencils, Crayola work well but there are many great choices and the quality varies. Prisma Colors are my favorites but are a bit pricey.
- #2 pencils or drawing pencils.
- Water soluble markers, Crayola work fine for kids and are washable.
- A black sharpie. They are great for line work and for drawings that you want to paint since they don’t run when wet.
- Elmer’s school glue
- Craft glue sticks
- Low temp Hot glue guns
Recyclables to collect for repurposing:
- Toilet paper or paper towel tubes
- Old Magazines
- Small boxes
- Flat cardboard (cut up amazon boxes work great!)
- Tin cans without sharp edges
- Interesting plastic, metal, or cardboard bits and pieces…
- Corks and bottle caps
- Other interesting tidbits, pretty much anything that can be glued to something else is fun to explore!
Nature Items to collect:
- Flat rocks
- Seed pods
- Flowers and grasses
Other Favorite Items to add in here and there:
- Oil Pastels
- Chalk Pastels
- Other interesting craft items, the possibilities are endless!
Your storage is going to be dictated by the space you have available and by your collection of supplies. If you have a whole craft room to dedicate great, but don’t feel that you need that much space. All of the supplies do not have to be available at all times. A small shelf can be a great place to house a smaller makerspace! You will also need a table or a desk for your child to work on (floors can work as well if tablespace is not available.)
I suggest getting a vinyl table cloth or place mat to protect and designate your child’s work space. I also enjoy having a collection tray on hand. Trays are great to hold the small items while your child work so that beads and such don’t just roll away.
Small baskets are a great way to organize kids materials on the shelf. Civilware trays work well to hold small tinkering items and loose parts. Larger boxes and wood crates are perfect for storing the larger items such as tin cans, small boxes, and cardboard items. Papers and magazines can be kept in a paper stacker.
Remember that all items do not need to be visible at all times. They can rotate in and out on the shelf if you have limited space. A storage tote can hold any excess until needed. I would recommend rotating interesting items every couple of weeks. You will always want to have paper, some type of paint, glue, and drawing materials available, but the other items can come and go as they are available or as older supplies begin to lose interest.
Note on art displays:
If your kids are anything like mine they will make a ton of art in their awesome new makerspace! Art display and storage can get to be a bit of an issue…
Here are some ways that I have found helpful in handling this little problem.
- Flat art like paintings, drawings, or collage can be pinned or taped to the wall or fridge for a period of time. One favorite display method is a clothesline approach. Simply hang a piece of twine and use clothespins to hold up art. Old art that has been on display for a while can be replaced as new art is made. Old art can be stored in a folder, given away as gifts to family and friends, or photographed and then recycled.
- Larger sculptures need to have a designated display shelf or stand to display them. Display space will likely be limited so talk to your kids and make sure they understand the size and quantity limitations for these types of projects. We display them for a week or two and then they are photographed and dismantled. Many of the parts used can go right back into the art bin for future use!
I hope you have fun setting up and using your very own kid’s makerspace at your house. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to reach out. I would also love to see pictures of your spaces as they are set up!