As step three in our efforts to fully embrace the Maker movement, and in conjunction with our Maker Collection of circulating titles, we are putting together Circulating Maker Kits (CMKs) that will check out to the public and provide our community with some simple but fun hands on introductions to Making. The Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County already has a really good prototype for this in the form of circulating toy kits bundled by theme for early childhood education, so we just adapted it for our Circulating Maker Kits. We are collecting a variety of toys, tools and resources on a particular theme and putting them together in clear backpacks that will be checked out as one complete unit. Each CMK will have an inventory list and in addition to the resources we buy, we are also planning to print off on-line instructions where appropriate to add in the kits as well, or resource pages with lists of on-line sites that will be of further interest.
We did a lot of research about what to put in each kit, with a few particular needs in mind.
1. We needed the items to be low cost.
We anticipate having some loss and needed to make replacements, so low cost is key. Also, we live in a more financially challenged community and we don’t want to put too high of a financial burden on our patrons should they have to pay for lost or damaged materials.
2. We needed the items to fit in our circulating bags.
3. We needed the items to be easy(ish) for staff to keep track of when checking the bags in and out.
The CMKs are a little more of a burden for circulation staff in that we will ask them to inspect each kit before checking it out and upon return to make sure that all the pieces and parts are there and accounted for, so we wanted to make it as easy as possible for staff while still putting together some fun and educational circulating maker kits.
There are lots of cool things out there that we considered, include marble mazes, magnetic building blocks, stomp rocket kits and more. We researched on-line and in person. I went to toy stores, Barnes and Noble, and offbeat places like TJ Maxx (they always have interesting toys there that I’ve never seen anywhere else). We found out that a few other libraries had circulating maker kits, either to check out to patrons or to check out to branch libraries for programming, and we looked at what they put in their kits.
And after all that research, this is what we decided on for our trial run . . .
Circulating Maker Kits
CMK#1: Tinker & Build with Straws
Strawbees, Make it Yourself (with Straws) 9780749669102, Geodesic Domes
We have the Accucut dies so we can easily fill a circulating kit with parts and pieces with minimal costs, especially since you can recycle things like milk jugs to make the connectors.
Animation Studio, Stopmotion Explosion, Brick Flicks, The Klutz Book of Animation
The Animation Studio has a little stage that folds out and works perfectly for a kit. Users will have to provide their own technology, such as a smart phone, tablet or laptop, but this kit is a great place to explore and get started.
CMK#3: Robotics (Teens)
The Robot Book, Robot Building for Teens, Recycled Robots
CMK #4: Paper Machines
The Paper Boomerang Book, Karakuri, Paper Toy Monsters, The Flying Machine Book
Partly because I thought the Paper Toy Monsters book was adorable, we decided to go with paper machines because it’s pretty easy and cost effective to keep putting blank paper in a bag to offset the cost of some of the higher priced CMKs we put together. The Karakuri and Paper Toy Monsters books both have templates that can be punched out and used. We will put a notion on the books asking patrons to use them as templates for reference, but we anticipate that we will have to replace these books as the templates get used up.
CMK #5: Robots (Easy)
Robots for Children, Bot + Boy by Ame Dyckman, Build a Robot toy, Stacking Robots, Robots for Children
We wanted to make sure and include a few younger kits (there are a few more listed below). There is no shortage of robot books, both pictures books and amazing How To books, so this was actually one of the harder kits to put together because we had to make some hard decisions about what we would (could) include and what we had to just leave on our wishlist for another day. We did purchase many additional titles, however, for the circulating collection.
CMK#6: Build with Me
Quercetti Tecno Building Toy, Dreaming Up by Christy Hale, Tinkerlab, Make: Tinkering, How Cars Work: The Interactive Guide to Mehanisms that Make a Car Move
CMK #7: Electricity
Snapcircuits Jr, Squishy Circuits, Making a Circuit, What is a Circuit
Rainbow Loom & Monster Tail, Loom Band It, Totally Rubber Band Jewelry, Loom Magic Charms, Loom Magic Creatures
We bought a large, bulk order of bands and are pre-making packets that circulation staff can easily slip into the kit when it is returned. We will also include a note saying please use the band provided to make whatever they like and to feel free to buy additional bands if they want to make additional projects.
CMK #9: Legos for Teens
Chain Reaction, Totally Cool Creations, Cool Creations in 35 Pieces
This is one of the kits that staff is not looking forward to checking out and in because it will contain a handful of Legos. There will be a replacement cost for Legos should they not come back. Though I recently read on the ALATT Facebook page that another library uses a shipping scale to weigh the Legos as opposed to counting items which is a great idea we are exploring.
CMK #10: Engineering (School Age)
Goldie Blox, Rosie Revere the Engineer, Engineering ABCs
The 5 following CMKs are founded on the Duplo series of Read and Build kits that come with a book and the pieces to make a small Duplo creation that corresponds with the book. In addition to the Duplo kit, we are adding a couple of age appropriate books on the topic to go in the kit. I’ll be honest, I wanted to do these kits because I thought the Duplo kits were perfect for our purposes, but the Children’s Librarian Debbie Baker is working on ordering the additional materials for these kits so I don’t know fully yet what will be in each kit. Duplo, like Legos, is a great introduction to making because it involves concepts like building, following instructions, and basic geometry.
CMK #11: Cars (Easy)
Duplo Read & Build Let’s Go Vroom, My Car by Byron Barton, Car Goes Far by Michael Garland
CMK#12: Fairy Tales (Easy)
Duplo Read & Build A Fairy Tale, Maisy’s Castle by Lucy Cousins, The Usborne Book of Fairy Tales
CMK #13: Jungle (Easy)
Duplo Read & Build Peekaboo Jungle, Over in the Jungle by Marianne Berkes
CMK #14: Farm (Easy)
Duplo Read & Build Busy Farm
CMK #15: Caterpillar (Easy)
Duplo Read & Build Grow Caterpillar Grow, The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle, Caterpillar to Butterfly by Laura Marsh
Possible Future CMKs:
Rubber Band Fun: Rubberband Mania, 15 Genius Rubber Band Life Hacks to Simplify Your Life, Epic Rubberband Crafts, Rubber Band Powered Flying Machines, The Racecar Book, Amazing Rubberband Cars
Duct Tape Fun: Sticky Fingers, Stick It!, Duct Tape Discovery Workshop, Duct Tape 101, Tape It & Make It
Life Hacks: The How to Handbook, How to Build a Fire and Other Handy Things Your Grandfather Knew, How to Sew a Button and Other Nifty Things Your Grandmother Knew, Life Hacks
Movie Making 101: Movie Maker, Learn to Speak Film, How to Make a Movie in 10 Easy Lessons, Tricky Video: The Complete Guide to Making Movie Magic (Klutz) – maybe include a green sheet and a book on green screen
Music: Garageband tutorial, Learn to Speak Music
As you can see, it’s a work in progress. But I like to think it is a good work in progress. The kits will be cataloged as one item and technical services is doing an awesome job of creating detailed records for us. We’re going to be printing off an inventory of each kit with the content to put in both a reference guide for us and to laminate and put in the front pocket of each kit. This should make it easier for everyone to tell what’s inside. Most of the items were ordered as part of our Maker Bookshelf order and you can easily find that here. Though we have gone through and added some additional items which are listed above in each kit description.
The Maker Collection is almost processed and ready to be put out for the public. The CMKs will probably take another week or so to get ready for circulation, we currently have about half of the items in and processed.
And on a personal note, once I got the go ahead to proceed with this project I dove right into doing a ton of research. Debbie Baker, head of Children’s Services, and I have worked hard on putting all of this together and it has been the most professionally rewarding experience I have had in a long time. It’s been exciting and invigorating. I’m hoping our community feels the same once it is all unveiled.
My Original Mobile Makerspace
My Updated Mobile Makerspace
MakerSpace Tech Tools Comparison Chart
The Unboxing and Learning Curve
Exploring Circulating Maker Kits
The Maker Bookshelf/Collection (with a book list)
Edited to add, after seeing this article on SLJ we have decided to add some nature themed kits.