This summer I was asked to present a webinar to Ohio School Librarians for InfOhio. The recording is available here.

I also created a resource list (adapted from a collaborative presentation with LISD librarian, Leah Mann) and year long programming ideas that I will continue to update via this gdoc:http://goo.gl/UUEItu.

RESOURCE LIST for School Makerspace

Webinar Recording:http://goo.gl/QTi36k

Sites I visit frequently:

Free Workshops:

  • Maker Journals: http://www.makered.org/tag/makerspace/ (How great would it be to have a maker journal all year? Or use Maker ed as authentic research? Kids could have to make something in small challenge groups and record all findings and modifications in a maker journal!)

  • Costumes (Even from paper!)

  • Card and board games

  • Inspire kids to invent and create with Rube Goldburg: http://www.rubegoldberg.com

  • Make Retro games: http://www.sploder.com/

Write a Grant for these:

Have people donate:

  • Brushbot supplies: Scrub brushes and Electric Toothbrushes from the Dollar Tree

  • Old car toys (Rocket propelled w balloons), balloons, old car toys with gears or switches, electronic motors for scribble bots (can buy from Radio Shack or get them out of a dollar store toothbrush), wire cutters, wire from phone lines (like old internet cords, etc), alligator clips, old tennis balls, old computers, old electronics, empty/cleaned coffee bags, oatmeal containers, 2 liter bottles, Modge Podge



Maker Workshops Ideas for the School Year (Organize activities around your Curriculum Standards)


Low Tech

High Tech

Cur Connections



LED Origami



Math, Angles, Art


Duct tape projects

Little Bits

-space kit

-synth kit

Snap Circuits

Science, Music



Makedo- make something with cardboard

Frankentoys- make it light up or move, etc with Hummingbird

Great resource here or buy Sugru to make interchangeable toys

Rolly bot- Like Sphero but made with a brushbot




Nanowrimo http://nanowrimo.org/

Interactive book w Makey Makey

English- Story writing

Science- Electricity, conductive materials, circuits


Upcycle old picture books into coasters w Modge Podge

(Find words and make your own magnetic poetry style coasters, or make story coasters.)

LED Throwies

Game Controller Workshop w Makey Makey (from MakerJawn)



Cardboard Mazes w Makedo

Scratch coding  -Use resources from Pursuitery.

  1. Chasing Game Challenge

  2. Maze Game Challenge

-Then make a real Magnetic Maze Combines Makey Makey and Scratch

Take it a step further and build a maze for your brushbot! Let Scratch score your brushbots and hold a competition!

-Logic Puzzle w Makey Makey

Math- X/Y Axis, Equations, Computational Thinking

English- Interactive Story idea changed into a logic puzzle


Unmake stuff Get kids to bring old stuff

Paper Circuits- Interactive Greeting Cards

Science- Electricity, conductive materials, circuits


Make your own Ukelele

Arduino Music Projects




Rube Goldberg Challenge - Motion projects

Wind Turbine Challenge: http://challenge.kidwind.org/

-Animated Poems with Mozilla Webmaker

-Hummingbird robot poems

Paper Circuits -

Makey Makey Maze w Brush Bot






Upcycle a Day for the Month of May! - Coffee bag idea

Raspberry Pi Photo booth

Inventions for math “market”

Math- Market

Science- Recycling, properties of materials

Start simple then build!

ELA: Storytelling, poetry connections

Makey Makey- give kids a bunch of stuff.  What is conductive and what isn’t? and WHY?

Science- Electricity, Circuits, Wind power

Math- Invent something, then sell it at our Community Market- why is your item selling or not?

Scratch Lessons all from Pursuitery https://pursuitery.com/technology/challenge/42/coding-with-scratch-challenge-maze-game/349

Chasing Game:

Intro: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3goItEqutEo

Tips and Hints: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lAYlmCj2W-4

Maze Game

Intro: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jbx1LiWCcxITips and hints: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gezAgBwcV3k


This post is inspired by my friend Donalyn Miller who writes for the Nerdy Book club:

Today while I was reading my first #bookaday challenge for my first day of summer vacation, I had an idea.  Why not complete one small project every day of the summer break? (You know I'm going to do that anyway!) Yesterday I made origami lotus flower, today I hacked my edcamp shirt, and tomorrow I'm going to make a motorized pinwheel with my Arduino! Let's get making together! Join me and post your #projectaday challenge on Twitter.

Last year we started our Makerspace with month long programming in May.  We did a different workshop every Monday and you can read more in my article in the March issue of Knowledge Quest.  Since we did Maker programming all year, I decided to focus on one thing for May-ker Monday and really go all out.  Students signed up for Code.org's "Intro to Computer Science" and came to the library Mondays after school and Thursdays during Advisory.  We made Binary initial bracelets, created games on Scratch, played banana pianos with Makey Makey, skyped with a game developer, and basically had a ton of fun!

It was great to have a focused Maker workshop every week because I had the same kids come over and over again. The "challenge" of finishing the coding levels kept them coming and kept them engaged. 
I also noticed the kids stayed more focused because I set up stations for them to complete.
Watch my video to learn more and hear from the kids! (Also on Youtube here)
Watch Now:

Colin FischerColin Fischer by Ashley Edward Miller
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Starting high school is bad enough for any teen, but Colin Fischer isn’t your normal teenager. His Asperger Syndrome makes it hard for him to recognize what other’s facial expressions mean, and his thirst for knowledge makes him an easy target for bullies.

However, his love for investigation leads Colin on a hunt for a school shooter that ironically blooms into friendship.

The narration was like a blend of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon and Wonder by Palacio R J. The book lends readers a peek inside the mind of someone very different from themselves. Plus, the storyline is heartwarming, mysterious, and fun.

First of all, I love footnotes in any book. It always feel like an extra goodie for me. But I wonder if teens will read the factual footnotes or even understand that they are a function of Colin’s obsessions.

An overall great read for MS and HS students that love realistic fiction, mystery, and something a little bit different.

View all my reviews

Vlog Below! Click Videolicious!

Watch Now:

My school took the Follett Challenge! Watch our video to see how we transformed the library into a Learning Commons.

The First Part LastThe First Part Last by Angela Johnson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Johnson, Angela. The First Part Last. New York: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2003. Print. 0689849222

Bobby is sixteen, lives in urban New York City and has a baby. Throughout the book we are given chapters titled, “now” and “then.” We learn in reading the “now” chapters that Bobby loves his daughter Feather with all of his heart, but in the “then” chapters he seems very upset about his girlfriend’s pregnancy. The novel flips between the two points of views, and we do not know the “first part” until the “last.”

I enjoyed the realistic qualities of this book. Bobby is a major screw-up both during fatherhood and during his girlfriend’s pregnancy. His friends are jerks, but they do stick around for the most part. I spent most of the book wondering what happened to his girlfriend and why she isn’t around during the “now” chapters. While I enjoyed the realistic qualities, I do feel that many of the characters were not fleshed out enough. I was not able to imagine what Nia and K-boy were really like. They just seemed like minor blips on Bobby’s radar. Considering Nia was the mother of his child, this seemed like very weak character development. Especially in a genre were characters are an important quality.

The short chapters and plot of the story are enough to grab even the most reluctant readers, but the lack of description and character development will irritate voracious page-turning readers.

Teaching Ideas: This is a great book for teaching Flashback and chronological order. It is also quite short and would be easy to read aloud to your class. Afterward, the teacher could have students write the timeline of events from the story’s order on sticky notes and place on the board. Then the students could move the events into chronological order to see the difference between the two.

View all my reviews

Why Big6?

Check out my GoAnimate video I made with a fellow librarian, Tracy Blackwood. GoAnimate.com: Persuasive Big6 Animation by agraves

Like it? Create your own at GoAnimate.com. It's free and fun!

3pigs.jpga.  2011. THREE LITTLE PIGS: NOSY CROW INTERACTIVE STORYBOOK APP Ill. and Animated by Ed Bryan. London: Nosy Crow.

b. A favorite old folktale is transformed into an interactive experience in this exciting first app from Nosy Crow.  While the storyline is familiar, the adventure they create is fresh and new.  With so many versions of The Three Little Pigs flooding the picture book market, it is nice to have an original storyline to share with contemporary school children.  Although this story does veer away from the gruesome and ghastly original, and each pig safely escapes the big bad wolf.  No wolves or pigs are eaten in this story!

Each animal is symbolic of a different human trait. The first pig is whiny and just wants to get his house done quickly; the second pig seems to care more about appearances than functionality, and the third little pig takes his time and works hard to make his brick house.  The wolf symbolizes foolishness and impatience as he climbs the roof and jumps down the third pig’s chimney when his attempt to blow the house down fails. The third pig is clearly the protagonist of the story, and he helps develop the strong moral theme of good triumphing over evil.

c. As the three little pigs move out of their parent’s house and into their own, your child will delight in helping each pig build a house out of straw, sticks, and bricks.  The narrator is a brilliant young girl with a clear British accent.  After she reads the page to you, you can click on each individual piggy to hear something extra from the character.  While she reads, you can also make the characters jump, spin, and you can tilt the iPad to see more of the background setting.  Little fingers are able to jump ahead, but chances are they will be so engaged they won’t want to miss a beat.  The wolf and pigs act out the classic “Huff and Puff” scenes and each character has a distinct voice that reads with growing enthusiasm.  As the wolf huffs, the houses shake and shudder.  Kids can even take part in the story by huffing into the iPad microphone.

Mischievous music plays as the wolf chases the little pigs from house to house.  Otherwise, chirping birds and croaking frogs fill the landscape with forest like sounds.  The sound effects and inter-activities really add to the story instead of detracting like some popular storybook apps.

The crisp graphics bring this nostalgic folktale into the 21st century. The quirky outfits of the pigs and the painterly backgrounds fully immerse the reader into the storyline. Little readers can choose to “read and play,” let the app “read to me,” or “read by myself.”  Choices are always appreciated in an app and each choice functions smoothly. There are no games to detract from the reading experience or flow of the story.  My only complaint is that as far as storybook apps go, this one is expensive.

d. Review Excerpts

  • Winner of 2011 Editor’s Choice Award from Children’s Technology Review magazine.
  • Teacherwithapps.com: “This app is a masterpiece.”
  • Gadgetwise from the New York Times rated it “One of the top 10 Best Children’s Books on the iPad.”

e. This app has taught my daughter the story of the Three Little Pigs. She enjoys helping them build their houses, and watching them run from the wolf.  She also likes the little bunny and spider that follow the pigs throughout the story.

It would be a great day in the library to share many different versions of this traditional folktale.  You could start with the original, then share David Wiesner’s Three Pigs, and end with Scieszka’s True Story of the Three Little Pigs.

Students could all go back to the classroom and create their own comic book version of the Three Pigs and play with point of view or the changing the storyline.

Buy the app here: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/the-three-little-pigs-nosy/id418543664?mt=8


Storybook App Hour

monster.jpg THE MONSTER AT THE END OF THIS BOOK by Sesame Street rating 5 of 5 stars

a. Sesame Workshop. 2011. THE MONSTER AT THE END OF THIS BOOK. App created by                Calloway Digital Arts.

b. I've recently discovered storybook app, and while I've been stumbling through Cosmo's Day Off and Jack and the Beanstalk (not bad apps, but not good for building literacy skills), I've finally uncovered a book that seems born for the interactive experience.

The Monster at the End of This Book was one of my favorite books as a child.  Now, my daughter  loves to hear Grover read to her and ask, no beg, her not to turn the pages.  She giggles as she unties the ropes holding the pages together and laughs as she knocks down Grover's brick wall.

The best thing about this storybook app is that Grover keeps reading even when little fingers tap the screen.  Most of the apps we've read let the little fingers disrupt the storyline.  This app also builds literacy skills by highlighting the words as Grover says them.  But best of all is finally hearing Grover read this story with enthusiasm, fear, and finally embarrassment at his realization of what is really at the end of this book.

View my podcast of this review below, complete with two year old giggles!

Watch Now:

Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale (Bccb Blue Ribbon Picture Book Awards (Awards))Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale (Bccb Blue Ribbon Picture Book Awards by Mo Willems My rating: 5 of 5 stars

a. Willems, Mo. 2004. KNUFFLE BUNNY: A CAUTIONARY TALE. New York: Hyperion Books for Children. ISBN 0786818700

b. Trixie is spending the day helping her dad do the laundry down the street in this believable and realistic storybook. On her way home, she realizes she’s left her beloved Knufflebunny in the laundromat! She begins to throw a fit on the sidewalk and her poor father can’t understand her toddler gibberish. When they finally get home, her mother realizes she doesn’t have Knufflebunny and the entire family runs back down the street to investigate.

Mo Willems breaks the mold by combining painterly techniques, like hand drawn sketches, with black and white photographs of his Brooklyn neighborhood and local laundromat. He added a sepia tone to the images on the computer and took out any extraneous information. Little reader’s will squeal with worry when they see Knufflebunny’s round eyes peeking out of the washing machine.  In addition, Trixie’s turbulent facial expressions mimic that of a small toddler.

The setting is very important to the story as the family “runs through the park, past the school, and into the laundromat.” This story hints at some of the things that are different for families that live in New York City, like how living space is small, so they do their laundry down the street instead of in their house. While the family passes all of the neighborhood landmarks, we see a diverse community represented by people walking their dogs, going for jogs, reading the newspaper, and riding bicycles.

Trixie’s reaction to the missing Knufflebunny is very consistent with her age group. Her screams of “Aggle Flaggle Klabble!” that embarrass her father and engage voyeuristic neighbors are also realistic. Willem’s savvy marriage of narrator text and speech bubbles will engage even the youngest reader.

d. Review Excerpts

  • Starred Review from Kirkus: “Anguish begets language in this tale of a toddler's lost stuffie.”
  • Review written by Joan Kindig Ph.D.in Children’s Literature: “The endpapers are whimsical (and cautionary!) and the perfect bookends to a universal and funny story.”

e. My two year old loves to look at the three images in the beginning of the book that show the couple getting married, then a “before” Trixie pic, and the first family picture in the hospital. She loves to point out, “Mommy,” “Daddy,” and “Baby.”

Even though this is a cautionary tale about losing something, I think it would be interesting to pair this book with clothes about laundry, like All Sorts Of Clothes, or evenThe Day Jimmy's Boa Ate the Wash, Weekly Reader Book Club Edition.

View all my reviews

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