I’m so pleased to be back here on Darlene’s blog to talk a bit about my new book, BE A MAKER, and to share a fun craft that pairs well with the book.
BE A MAKER is a picture book about all the things a child can make in a day – like a tower, a mess, a friend, and a difference. It’s published by Carolrhoda, an imprint of Lerner books, and is illustrated by Elizabet Vuković.
Right now, the Maker movement and Makerspaces get a lot of buzz. And that’s a great thing – I love that we are encouraging kids and adults to tinker, explore and build. But sometimes, I think people get the (mistaken) idea that being a “maker” means you have to be good at coding, or robotics, or welding a gigantic fire-breathing mechanical dragon from spare parts. Now, that’s some awesome making, for sure, but I want kids to understand that there are countless ways to create and that it’s not size or complexity – or even electricity – that makes your creation valuable. What matters is that you feel proud of what you made. BE A MAKER was born of that idea.
BE A MAKER is told in 2nd person and contains 2 questions that I hope will lead the readers – young and old – to reflection and discussion. It opens with:
Ask yourself this question in the morning when you wake: In a world of possibilities, today, what will you make?
and later closes with: Ask yourself this question as the sun begins to fade:
In a day of making choices, are you proud of what you made?
–Be A Maker by Katey Howes, copyright 2019
In between, readers follow the main character as she makes music, plans, a snack, a friend, and a pledge to make her neighborhood a better place.
Before I read the book to a class of kids, I ask “How many of you think of yourselves as makers?” Results vary, but it is never unanimous.
After reading BE A MAKER to a class, I ask the same question.
And every hand goes up.
When I then ask them what they are proud of making, the answers come fast and furious. I make cake! Legos! Songs! Stories! I make people smile! I make my mom laugh! I make boats. I make pompoms.
There’s no hesitation and no judgement. Each thing made is valued – not weighed or compared. The kids feel proud of themselves and eager to try making new things.
With this in mind, I created a simple craft that can be adapted for an individual or a whole classroom. I call it the Maker Mobile.
-A dowel, stick, embroidery hoop, clothes hanger or other item to use as the base.
-string -card stock -scissors -glue
- Cut card stock into matching shapes. For this example, I made 2×2 squares and then cut each on the diagonal to make triangles.
- Have kids think of something they like to make. Count the number of letters in that word. They will need twice that number of cardstock shapes.
- Write each letter of the word on 2 matching shapes.
- Line up one set of shapes spelling out the word, vertically (spelled top to bottom.) Like this:
- Flip the shapes over. Glue the string to the backs of those shapes.
- Glue the other copy of the word on top of the string, facing up.
- When the glue is dry, hang the string from your dowel or other base.
- Repeat with other words on different lengths of string until you like the look and balance of your mobile.
- Glue or tape a long strip of cardstock with the words “MAKERS MAKE…” to your dowel.
- Tie string to the ends of your dowel and hang!
For large groups, consider making a bigger mobile with a hula hoop as the base and one string from each student.
- Challenge kids to think of two words with an equal number of letters to put on opposite sides of the string.
- For less cutting and gluing, purchase adhesive-backed foam shapes to use in place of cardstock.
- For more variety, encourage kids to make their strings from any materials available in your maker space/craft area.
Katey Howes is thrilled to be making books for children. She also makes bad jokes, great apple crisp, and messy mistakes. Katey lives in Upper Makefield, Pennsylvania (really!) with her husband and three adventurous daughters makers. Katey is the author of picture books Magnolia Mudd and the Super Jumptastic Launcher Deluxe and Grandmother Thorn. In addition to her own blog about raising readers, Katey contributes to websites including All the Wonders, The Nerdy Bookclub, STEAM Powered Family and Imagination Soup. Katey is a member of SCBWI and is very active in the kidlit community. Find her online at kateyhowes.com, on Twitter @kateywrites, and on Instagram @kidlitlove.