MINI MAKERS: Skills for the Littlest Inventors

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Note: Please excuse my recent absence. I’m healthy now and ready to dig in, beginning with this series!

Maker Education for the Littlest Wonderers

It’s no secret that I’m a stalwart advocate of maker education. As such, I can’t help but smile when I come across a new book, article, or website singing the same tune. Today’s parents and teachers need only search Google or Pinterest to find child-friendly projects in woodworking, paper circuits, or robotics.

Still, something is painfully lacking: maker ed for the littlest inventors. There are excellent tinkering resources, but what about specific skills that foster creativity and ingenuity in kids 6 and under?

This post the first of a multi-part series highlighting creative skills for the next generation of doers and thinkings. I’ve started with skills that allow for a great deal of ingenuity without risking little fingers, using cheap or recycled materials. They include:

  • Cardboarding
  • Simple tools & machines (beyond Lego!)
  • Coding, even for pre-readers
  • Yarn & ribbon craft
  • Pipes and tubes
  • Papercraft
  • Duct and Washi tape

I hope you’re as excited about this series as I am! Expect to see mini-maker features go up over the next few weeks, but by all means, don’t wait for me. I’ve created several Pinterest boards dedicated to each skill. Check them out here!

Get Inspired With Our Mini-Maker Boards

Cardboarding

Cardboarding is exactly what you might expect: designing virtually anything using a few discarded boxes. While this is certainly not a new skill for young kids, some of the projects emerging are pretty darn impressive. See:

Simple Tools & Machines

Physics for little kids? Yes, please. Simple tools and machines make abstract principles concrete without being taught directly. Kids need only play!

 

Coding

Yes. That coding. We’ve published our own guide to kids coding resources, but I intend to highlight several for pre-readers, some of which require no screen at all.

 

Pipes & Tubes

It’s amazing what little minds can concoct with a few extra PVC pipes or hoses.

 

Papercraft

Think: active, hands-on, and even 3-d projects for the littles, no crayons required.

 

Duct & Washi Tape

Need I say more?

 

Yarn & Ribbon Craft

Put all that leftover yarn to creative use. (Did I promise someone a hat?)

Aimee Hosler Education Journalist
Aimee
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Aimee Hosler has a snazzy husband, two boys, a dog, and official pedagogy-nerd status. She doubles as a freelance journalist specializing K-12 and higher education in general, and PBL, maker education and creative thinking specifically. Her articles have appeared in a variety of publications, including USA Today, TeachThought, Education World, The Global Digital Citizen Foundation, Yahoo! News, Teacher Portal and more. She lives in Virginia.


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