Maker clubs are more than Legos and computer components

Saw a poster by the entrance of my local Barnes & Noble advertising an upcoming Maker event.  Of course, the poster featured something that resembled a pixelated Lego creation.  This geek girl loves her Legos and computer programming as much as the next person, but maker clubs are designed to be hands-on activities where you make stuff.  This can include sewing, knitting, embroidery, crochet, jewelry making, papercrafts, origami, screen printing, tie-dye, bird houses, gourd painting…soapbox derby with carpentry, even cooking and baking can be a kid’s maker club.

My local school sponsors weekly clubs that meet on Friday afternoon. I sponsor the Stitching Stallions – which is Crafty S.T.E.M. rebranded and retooled with a decidedly stitchy focus.

Week 1 – Rules, expectations & project possibilities. Craft DIY project bags from Ziplock bags, chalk tape, stickers & markers
Weeks 2 & 3 – Fabric postcards, DIY Stuffies (hand-stitch) & Floor cushions
Week 4 – Stuff and finish floor cushions
Week 5 – Pom-pom spiders/open sewing
Week 6 – Pillowcases
Weeks 7 & 8 – Owl & monster pillows
Week 9 – Club showcase

I have 15 kids, 3 sewing machines and 1 adult non-sewing helper who manages students while I am at the machines with other students. Our club is flexible so that if we need to omit/revise a project, that’s fine. This is a rough outline to keep me focused and utilize materials I already have on hand.  Last year, I discovered that stations work quite well and it’s less stress on me if students do the actual prep work whenever possible. Students will use the die-cut machine to cut fabric shapes for their hand-stitched felt stuffies. They will select fabrics for the floor cushions and cut out the panels from a freezer paper pattern. Some can hand-stitch while I work with others at the sewing machines to complete the fabric postcards. Stuffing the floor cushions is going to take an entire class period, based on what I learned from summer sewing camp. It will take about 3 pounds of stuffing per floor cushion. Pillowcases can be made in one session IF kits are cut ahead of time. Monster and owl pillows may also need to be precut in the interest of time.  We’ll just have to see. Yes, it is a lot of prep work on top of teaching 32 library classes a week, but I enjoy it. The kids are so excited to be there. That’s what makes it all worthwhile.