Saturday, November 8, 2014

Makers Space Tour - Illinois Children Museums

Last weekend we took a mini family vacation to Moline, Illinois. Our grandkids are crazy about John Deere and it's the perfect place to take them for big JOHN DEERE fun!

While in the Quad Cities, we visited the Family Museum a small, but fantastic place for children to learn through play. I combed for ideas for organizing our Makers Lab while we were there!

The Family Museum in Bettendorf, Iowa had an elegant way to lay out their workbenches where children could come in and build from materials that were provided. Just look at these work sites! They even have multiple heights to accommodate various heights of kids.

This museum was geared toward younger kids, which we witnessed with our younger grandchildren (those under 5) feeling right at home. The older two kids, 6 and 11, still had a good time and were able to make and create.

Our second museum stop was a detour on our way home. We stopped at the Discovery Center Museum in Rockford, Illinois which was amazing! We were visiting over Halloween weekend so we were lucky to participate in a Pumpkin Chuckin' special event where kids launched pumpkins using a large and a small scale trebuchet. Inside the museum, we couldn't get the kids out! This time we only had our two older grandkids, the rest had headed home. The older ones enjoyed themselves and I think our younger ones would have had just as much fun.

There were great opportunities for the kids to create and make. Our two kids designed their own woodworking projects and built upon their skills.

The following two photos are some of the items on display. The atmosphere was inspiring.

I saw some wonderful examples of organizing and establishing the Makers Lab that I couldn't help but comb for our Makers Lab. Check out the materials storage below. These are 3 and 5 gallon buckets set into crafted plywood shelving units. Holes are cut into the plywood and the buckets rest neatly inside. Duct tape in colorful patterns is placed across the bottom one-third of the buckets to help keep items contained. For any of you in a Makers Lab or Makers Space, you can imagine what this collection can bring to the chaos that is a Makers Space!

These are larger cardboard barrels with various pieces of wood, styrofoam, cardboard, plastic... essentially junk! But this junk can be treasure when sorted and stored so children can easily begin imagining and creating. And when the time is up, it's easy for the kids to sort their items back out.

If you're looking a creative way to spend an afternoon in the Midwest, I'd recommend both the Family Museum in the Quad Cities area and the Discovery Center in Rockford, Illinois. Your kids will thank you for it...and you'll probably have fun too!

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