Denville New Jersey’s Maker Camp Is Rocking It

Denville New Jersey’s Maker Camp Is Rocking It

[Christine Lupia-Fugere shares her inspiring Maker Camp experience with us! Maker Camp is a self-service virtual camp for anyone (but particularly kids aged 7-12) interested in DIY, making, creating, crafting, hacking, tinkering, and discovery. See (and make!) these great Maker Camp projects.]

Our First Foray

This summer is our first foray into the world of Maker Camp! The cast of characters currently is my four children (Veronica, Brendan, Theodore and Julianna) ages ranging from 2-11, our 4H friend Gabriel Dokus (11) and his parents Lynee and Dan.

“I used my mom’s old t-shirt to make a sleeping bag and pillow for my American Girl doll. I won a red ribbon at the 4H fair.” – Julianna

I’m Christine Lupia-Fugere and when I’m not encouraging my own kids to get creative and make SOMETHING interesting to them, I’m teaching Kindergartners through fifth graders to embrace amazing media and safely harness the power of technology in the library media centers of Lake Parsippany and Troy Hills School in Parsippany NJ.


The Value of our Maker Camp

I want very much to keep my kids engaged and active in learning, reading and writing past the end of the school year and throughout the summer, but find the usual review workbooks and flashcard practice just doesn’t motivate or engage my kids. Doesn’t everyone deserve a chance to change things up a little in the summer?

“When I use the cups to create a castle, I feel calm. I can make more building designs using different sizes of the cups.” – Theodore

I have been reading about the Genius Hour movement and wanted to have my children try a simplified version at home every day for as long as they wanted or time would permit between library programs, swim lessons and karate class. I asked them to just follow their passion to learn something new that was interesting to them — and share it with the rest of the family later on that day.


While a few of our learning and exploring materials were on summer loan from my schools (OZOBOT, stacking cups, Straws and Connectors Building Kit) my children also have expressed an interest in different learning toys that Santa has brought this year and last: Tinkercrate and Doodlecrate subscriptions, Hex-fish and Hex-bugs, Magformers, legos, and Snap Circuits. The school age children have used and really enjoy coding websites like, Scratch.MIT.EDU, and

“I can make a house for Thomas (the tank engine) with my magformers.” – Brendan

We attempted a few of the projects on the Maker Camp website such as the “spudmarine”, drinking straw oboe, DIY slime and plastic plate UFO! The pre-K kids tend to gravitate to their own building toys, blocks and boxes and if I leave them alone and just observe, they find all sorts of interesting uses for the toys — they sat in boxes and wrapped themselves in bubble wrap one day to pretend they were in hot tubs!


They also will come over if they see one of the older kids using an interesting toy or tool and watch, or, more usually, try to take over! Later I’ll hear them telling their dad about the toy or tool and be amazed at how much they took in, just from watching or talking to the big kid about what they were doing.

“I decorated a book bag at the library. I made it to carry my dolphin.” – Veronica

My kids are engaged in learning by experimenting, they pursue activities they are deeply curious about, and the older ones model and teach the younger ones how to ask questions, experiment and reflect, especially if the outcome was not what you expected or wanted to happen! That’s definitely the value that I am seeing in the pursuit of a Maker Camp program!

“I showed the other kids how to make a paper airplane my way. Now their planes can fly farther and faster than before.” – Gabriel


Our Denville Public Library children’s department runs amazing programming and we were able enrich our home-based making and learning with various programs such as:

  • Crafts: clay pottery turning for kids, pizza storytime and pizza craft, tween pillow knotting, weaving and chalkboard, veggication, get cooking (pre-k), no-cook cooking (grades 2-8), learn Spanish, learn French, music makers-music education, music makers marching band program, Yoga instruction.
  • Animal programming: goat milking/butter and cheese making, Morris County Park Presents: Live Animals, Eyes of the Wild: Animals, tortoise and the hare puppet show.
  • Science/technology and game programming: Robodyssey, snap circuit spin-art, paper-circuit art, flappy bird game, battle of the robots, code your own video game, Angry Bird building projects, silly science experiments, Sciencetellers theater, Morris Museum Dinosaurs, Morris Museum Ancient Greece and the Olympics, bubble show.

Our 4H Nature’s Keepers group meets monthly and learns about taking care of the environment, exploring and experiencing it firsthand! Our friends, Lynee and Dan Dokus are the leaders and always have prepared an interesting project or experiment to try out. In our June meeting, we prepared kitchen compost scraps (onion bottoms, garlic cloves, potato slices, parsley and basil cuttings and mushroom stems) and placed them in water or soil in order to see if we could start new plants. The kids were amazed when the scraps took root and suddenly we had a container garden community on the front stairs!


We surprised our leaders with homemade club tie-dye shirts just in time for the county 4H Fair. The kids took great pleasure in buying white t-shirts, preparing them, staining them with the dye and then printing our logo and club name on the shirts with silver glitter puffy paint! All wore our shirts with pride and we received many compliments on the design.

4H expects that its groups and members will give back to the community. We have weeded a park in town during the springtime and also helped the local nursing home facility continue its craft fundraising (organized items for sale and cleaned the space where the sales take place). This summer we chose to volunteer for two evenings at the 4H fair in the Cloverbud Corner sharing makerspace crafts for kids that stop by looking for something fun to do after rides and entertainment/games.


Julianna helped some children make our custom DIY marble maze box while Theodore and Gabriel showed others how to craft special types of paper airplanes and helicopters and then fly them in the exhibit tent. They gained experience in patience and presenting step-by step directions while directing the progress of others and learning how to give gentle and helpful feedback.

Check out our photo gallery …!

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Will Chase

Will Chase is the Director of Content and Community for Maker Media.

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