5 Makerspace Items Kids Want for Christmas


The latest educational craze is makerspaces, and actually, this educational movement is something any parent can and should get excited about.  Libraries, both public and school, are filling their spaces with items that allow people of all ages to “make” something.  In past years, I’ve blogged about devices and apps that children would love to get from Santa, but today, I’m going to connect you to some Makerspace items that will keep your kids busy during Christmas break and have them begging for more before the Easter Bunny comes.

1.  Snap Circuits for Home Makerspace

All snap circuits packs are on sale in Amazon as I write this, and I advise buying these as soon as possible because they will be scarce when holiday shopping is in full swing.  With these kits, your kids can make digital voice recorders, doorbells, radios, and many other things that run on electricity.  I even saw a kids make a musical instrument with these.

Here is a link to a video highlighting the product.


2.  Sphero and Ollie – Coding in the Makerspace

These guys are the first app-enabled ball. When I purchased Sphero for my kids back in April there were over 30 apps that would make the ball work, and I’m certain that number is well over 100 now, and most of the apps are free. These toys offer opportunities to play games in groups or as individuals. They also provide coding experiences. Kids can make this ball do anything through the app on any Apple or Android device.


Check out the Sphero in action. Be careful though…you won’t be able to resist buying it!

3.  Makey Makey 

This is so fun!  I can’t explain it better than the video below.  Watch it!

4. The Official Arduino Start Up Set which includes Super Awesome Sylvia’s book

This kit includes a Raspberry Pi, and a Raspberry Pi is a very simplistic computer, so if you want your kids to know how a computer works and start thinking about how to build one, this kit will be great!

And definitely check out one of many Super Awesome Sylvia YouTube videos, but again, beware when exposing your children to these videos because their science project items will grow, and you might have a few messes.

5.  Maker Books for Home Makerspaces

Sometimes, kids just need to read about the possibilities to be inspired to create things!  Check out these books to get kids making.

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The Podcast Is LIVE!

vendor floor

I haven’t written in this space since I told you all I was going to start a podcast and the reasons why I was embarking on this adventure.  I even revealed the name and the artwork which ultimately ended up changing as I worked through the process.  It was my intention to launch the podcast on International Podcast Day, but iTunes approved it fast than I had expected, so its launched now…and waiting you to listen.  I realize you might not know what the heck I’m talking about, so I’m dedicating this post to teaching you about podcasts and how to listen.

What is a podcast?

A quick google search provides this definition: a digital audio file made available on the Internet for downloading to a computer or portable media player, typically available as a series, new installments of which can be received by subscribers automatically.  The Pew Research Center has seen steady growth in the number of people listening to podcasts.  Apple coined the term podcast ten years ago when it provided an app for the iPod that was used to deliver digital spoken word content.

How do you listen to a podcast?

If you have an iPhone, iPad, or Mac computer, you can simply use the build in podcast app to search and download podcasts that might be of interest to you.   If you don’t have an apple device, try downloading the Stitcher app on your Android devices.  Some also use Soundcloud from their laptops.  I usually hook my phone up to the speakers in my van via bluetooth.  It works great as I travel from home to work or school to school.  You can find podcasts about almost everything you can imagine.  Hunting and fishing? Yes!  Fantasy Football?  Yes!  Beer? Yes!  Business tips and tricks, education advice for teachers and parents, athletics, pro sports, ESPN…the list goes on.  If you are unsure of what to try, get the Clammr app which is sorta like Instagram for audio.  Clammr provides 15 second clips of podcasts in channels you indicate you are interested in hearing.

Let the producer of the show know you like the show?

Podcasts are most often produced by individuals for the purpose of sharing a passion for something with others.  It is much like a blog, and if you like a blog, you LIKE, comment or share in various ways both online (social media networks) and in person (general conversation).  In the podcast world, subscriptions, ratings, and reviews are how podcasts measure their success.  Most podcasts appeal to a specific niche of interest, so if you like a podcast, there is likely a community of listeners gathering somewhere.  The podcast might have a dedicated Facebook page or group or potentially a hashtag functions as a space for listeners to gather.  Engaging in the community will likely add to your enjoyment while listening.

What you can do for me?

Well, if you are reading this, you are either a family member, friend, or colleague, and I would really appreciate your help.  I realize most of you are not people who will listen to my podcast regularly because I actually create it for educational leaders trying to find their way in a world chuck full of great tech tools.  However, you can still help me.  iTunes has a section they call “New and Noteworthy”.  Once my podcast went live I have 58 days to get into New and Noteworthy which helps me get more organic listeners who are likely more tied to my niche.  You can help me get there!  If you simply go to iTunes or Stitcher, and subscribe to my podcast that helps my numbers.  If you really want to help, you could listen to an episode briefly, and then rate and review it.

To sweeten the deal, I’ll provide a list of podcasts in a variety of categories in my next post.  That way you can subscribe to a few more while you are there.


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New Space!


I’m on an interesting journey.  As I’ve mentioned recently, I’m starting a podcast.  Why?  I don’t really know except that I guess I’m gluten for punishment.  It is turning out to be more work than I had originally anticipated.  However, I’m on the journey, and I do want to continue, so I decided it is best if I can merge my blog and my podcast into one space.  I even considered merging the title, and then I decided that would make my writing too confined, and remember my New Year’s resolution was to write for my own purpose not because I felt like I needed to teach someone something although I know I sometimes teach in my blog posts.  It is the nature of the beast I guess.  I’m a teacher.  No way around it.

With this new space comes an opportunity to be creative.  I have a new color scheme, and a new photo and a whole lot of other creative ventures I’m trying to pull together.  In the midst of the storm, I opted to not pay extra money for my website people to migrate my original site over.  That means though that I’m not going to migrate every post either.  I should. But I’m not.  The stats are not that important to me, and that is likely the only reason I would move them over.  The writing though; that is valuable to me.  I spent time thinking those things, so having access to those thoughts is critical to me.  So, I’m attaching a link to my other blog (which is no longer in my domain name).  Here it is: https://melissaemler.wordpress.com/.  All my blogs can be found there.  I might move them over at some point but not now.  There is just too many other things to do.

So here it is…my new space…!  I like it…but its iterative.  I’m likely going to be tweaking for awhile.  Come back often, and mark your calendars.  September 30 is my podcast launch date and International Podcast Day!

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