Jane Werner, a friend who is Executive Director of the Pittsburgh Children’s Museum, was on a trip in Scotland when she visited the “Old Children’s Bookshop” in Edinburgh. “I just loved the name of the store,” she commented. She found this book called Something to Make and bought it for me. The book was published in London and this copy was originally given to Helen by her “Mumm” in 1916.

Something to Make children's book

A book published in 1916 that encourages children to make.

The book opens with this poem:


There’s lots you can do — and who can doubt it? —
If only you knew how to set about it.
If someone would only the trouble take
To give you a notion of Something to Make.

What one’s made one’s-self, I’ve always thought,
Is better than anything given or bought —
We’re not so afraid of spoiling or breaking it —
Besides one has had the pleasure of making it.

So here are a few remarks to show
The kind of jobs you might try, you know:
Cutters, castles, carpentry, cake —
Any amount of Something to Make.

The work is jolly, the pleasure immense —
So roll up your sleeves and save up your pence
(To buy materials, you understand)
And turn out something that’s simply grand!

Something to Make offers us a timeless reminder, especially relevant as the holiday season kicks off, that the greatest gift you might give a child is not “just something” but instead “something to make.” Help a child “set about” making this holiday season.

Dale Dougherty

Dale Dougherty

I’m founder of MAKE magazine and creator of Maker Faire, which are produced by Maker Media, where I’m Executive Chairman. I am also Chairman of the Maker Education Initiative (www.makered.org).

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  • Phil

    Great poem! If you love nature…here is a fun kit to grow a pet TickleMe Plant that closes its leaves and lowers its branches when you Tickle It!.

  • http://dululainsekaranglain.com/ Ismail N

    This is an honest poem, and hits me right at my nose, so to speak. It is so easy and tempting to just buy instead of make. And helping our kids to start the adventure of making is truly a challenge, especially in this modern world of fast lanes, less time. But thanks to this reminder, I have started.

  • http://blog.fritzing.org Stefan”

    Oh that is so awesome. I need this in golden letters in the entrance.

  • Ican Read

    It’s from “Mummie”

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