Books to inspire maker space activities

Books to inspire maker space activitiesStudents at Manaia View School engrossed in their engineering activity.All rights reserved

Marama Keyte, the creative and resourceful librarian at Manaia View School in Whangārei, developed a successful, simple makerspace activity inspired by the picture book — Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty, illustrated by David Roberts.

Reading aloud

Marama loved the Rosie Revere, Engineer picture book — the rhythm and rhyme of the language, the humour and quirkiness of the illustrations, and the inspiring message of the story.  She read it aloud to each class in the school as they came for their weekly visit to the library.  After reading it aloud she spent time talking with the students about Rosie and the traits she demonstrated — her ingenuity and imagination along with plenty of perseverance and determination in the face of initial failures.

Makerspace activity

Inspired by the book, Marama created a makerspace activity for students in the library at lunchtime — building structures from toothpicks and blu-tak, or paper triangles and shapes.  The students loved the hands-on activity.

Taking it to the next level

She then took photos of the students engrossed in their tasks and captioned the photos with dispositions such as 'concentration', 'perseverance''collaboration', and also, when students had completed the task,'Engineer' or 'Future engineers'. The photos were posted in the library and elsewhere in the school, spreading a simple but powerful message of achievement, potential, and self-esteem, all inspired by a great picture book.

young engineerYoung engineerAll rights reserved


As well as this activity prompted by Rosie Revere, Engineer, Marama finds it helpful after reading a story aloud to have a little talk about it — to encourage active listening, to recap and share some highlights, to check for understanding and to use some of the language of talking about books.

She came across a story mapping activity on Pinterest and has made one to use with her students in the library.  After reading aloud she gets students talking about some key elements of the story and quickly and lightly jots them down briefly on post-it notes onto the story map board.

Story map

Makerspace picture books

Here’s a small collection of other picture books that could inspire makerspace activities and attitudes. I collected these together for a school library network meeting on the topic with the help of Tracy Dyett at National Library Auckland. There are many more — what would you add to the list?

  • Automaton by Gary Crew and Aaron Hill
  • Dinosaur Rocket by Penny Dale
  • Engibear’s Bridge and Engibear’s Dream by Andrew King, illustrated by Benjamin Johnston
  • Galimoto by Karen Lynn Williams
  • Iggy Peck, Architect by Andrea Beaty, illustrated by David Roberts
  • Ingenious Jean by Susan Chandler, illustrated by Kate Leake
  • Leonardo and the flying boy by Laurence Anholt
  • Look! A book! by Bob Staake
  • Mechanical Harry by Bob Kerr
  • The Tree and The Last Tree on the Island by Bob Darroch
  • The Magnificent Tree by Nick Bland, illustrated by Stephen Michael King
  • The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires
  • The Super Parp-buster by Janeen Brian, illustrated by Greg Holfeld
  • Use your imagination by Nicola O’Byrne
  • Violet the Pilot by Steve Breen
  • Weasels by Elys Dolan
  • What Do You Do With an Idea? by Kobi Yamada, illustrated by Mae Besom

Heather Greaves at Oturu School has been running various makerspace activities with her students and has found these two books invaluable:

  • The Art of Tinkering by Karen Wilkinson and Mike Petrich
  • Invent to Learn by Sylvia Libow Martinez and Gary Stager

This is a useful starter list from School Library Journal: Maker Bookshelf: A starter collection for current and aspiring makebrarians

All the best for reading stories, talking about them, making and doing stuff and then telling that story too!

Main image: Students at Manaia View School engrossed in their engineering activity, used with permission

By Jeannie Skinner

Jeannie is a Facilitator in the National Capability Services team with Services to Schools.

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