Finding Starter Projects for New Makers (Part 1: Make & friends)

Finding Starter Projects for New Makers (Part 1: Make & friends)

Every fall we get a new crop of schools and teachers coming to us looking for ways to get started with making. We’re developing more awesome Maker Media-made resources for you. In the meantime, over the next several posts we’re going to share the resources our colleagues in the classroom use to get students started making.

To give credit where this is due, we gleaned the links in this post and the forthcoming ones with input from many colleagues, especially Stephanie Chang and Aaron Vanderwerff.

In today’s post, we share the resources made by us at Maker Media. Don’t forget to also check out what’s happening at our non-profit sibling: the Maker Education Initiative.


Browse Make:Projects. We’ve seeded this DIY project-sharing site with projects straight from the pages of Make: magazine, and it has grown with many more submitted by our most creative readers. Every project we’ve suggested for Maker Camp is described online in Make:Projects. You can access step-by-step instructions and materials lists for hundreds of projects.Our tips for finding the simpler ones:

  • Some of the “Easy” projects should be do-able by new Makers and adaptable to challenge intermediate Makers.
  • The Wind Triggered Lantern, Soda Bottle Rocket, or Cigar Box Guitar provide easy starting points.
  • The Kids topic page includes both the projects that young people would build and those that kids would enjoy playing with.
  • Family Fun is a good page if you have a low kid-to-adult ratio in your class or club.
  • You might also want to check out the most popular projects.

Make: Volume schoolsout Cover ImageNot all our projects have made it into Make:Projects. Our bloggers regularly post inspiring project ideas, and of course there’s Make: magazine which our colleagues have carefully curated with great content, inspiring maker profiles, lab-tested projects, and regular features. Teacher Aaron Vanderwerff uses his library of Make: magazines to spark his students’ brainstorming sessions. At 42 volumes and counting, now we have enough issues to cover even very large classrooms!A few places to start:

MakerFaire-ClassroomPack-Contents1We recently piloted a set of five activities we called the Maker Faire Classroom Pack. Check out our one-page guides for Sculpted Circuits, Scribble Machines, Paper Circuits, LED Binder Clip Bling, and Light Up and Paint.


We had another amazing summer of Maker Camp, with nearly 500 affiliate organizations and thousands of campers participating in the 30 days of making. Did you know Maker Camp can also be used anytime as an online resource for your classroom? We have hundreds of project ideas with instructions, along with videos featuring awesome makers and epic field trips to places like the White House Kitchen Garden, Blue Man Group, Google’s Self Driving Car Project, and Jim Henson’s Creature Shop. Search projects and videos by week at, and check out the supporting materials for educators in the Maker Camp 2014 Affiliate Playbook. Visit us in the Maker Camp area at World Maker Faire, where our Maker Camp Counselors will be showing off their favorite Maker Camp 2014 projects and offering hands-on making.


Make: Televisionmaketv was a DIY series produced by Twin Cities Public TV. Each of the 10 half-hour episodes inspired millions to think, create, and, well, make. Make: premiered nationwide on Public Television stations and online at in January 2009. Check out the breakdown of shows, and the project pack or other supplementary materials

makerfaire-flyerWe know hundreds of teachers bring each new cohort of students to Maker Faire for project inspiration and an explosive day of learning. You too can transform Maker Faire into a learning lab.  Thousands of other teachers have come to Maker Faire on their own to renew their passion for project-based learning and teaching. Read our fourth annual roundup of why educators love Maker Faire. This year, we also include their strategies for making the most out of this unique DIY professional development opportunity. Can’t make it to New York City next weekend or to the Bay Area next spring? We have lots of live and archived video covering the event and there are over 130 community-organized events around the world that bring the spirit of the events we organize to cities everywhere.


The Makerspace Playbook (School Edition) is available for free download on It emerged from two years of work with 16 high schools starting or running makerspaces. Along with Virginia-based teacher Adam Kemp’s book The Makerspace Workbench, you’d have all you need to launch a space or class devoted to making. When we were working very closely with high school makerspaces, we also maintained a blog which has some good links and repots from teachers in the field.

blueprintThe excellent report A Blueprint: Maker Programs for Youth came out of an NSF-funded workshop before World Maker Faire 2012. It includes a great chart at the end, with NYSCI list of 40 suggested projects starting on page 35. For more background material to support your case to start some kind of making program or makerspace at your school take a look at Proceedings from the “Innovation, Education, and the Maker Movement” Workshop.

Maker Shedmakershed features a wide variety of kits perfectly suited for classroom use. We also carry books like Curt Gabrielson’s Tinkering, which contains high-interest content that ties into science standards without the rigidity of current classroom canon. Gabrielson draws on more than 20 years of experience doing hands-on science, most recently as part of the terrific group Community Science Workshops.


0 thoughts on “Finding Starter Projects for New Makers (Part 1: Make & friends)

  1. says:

    I was able to find good terms in school that I can use while using your tips. It’s really a good thing to now that there is a very good opportunity we can get from using your tips here.

Discuss this article with the rest of the community on our Discord server!

Michelle, or Binka, makes . While at Maker Media, she oversaw publications, outreach, and programming for kids, families, and schools. Before joining Maker Media in 2007, she worked at the Exploratorium, in Mitchel Resnick’s Lifelong Kindergarten group at the MIT Media Lab, and as a curriculum designer for various publishers and educational researchers. When she’s not supporting future makers, including her two young sons, Binka does some making of her own, most often as a visual artist.

View more articles by Michelle "Binka" Hlubinka

Jessica designs art, making, and STEAM experiences for learners of all ages. She's developed and produced hands-on workshops, public programs, video media, project guides, and PD resources for organizations like Maker Media, the Exploratorium, and Franconia Sculpture Park. She holds a BFA in Sculpture from RISD and an EdM from Harvard.

She's shared hands-on activities with attendees at Maker Faires since 2007.

View more articles by Jessica Henricks


Ready to dive into the realm of hands-on innovation? This collection serves as your passport to an exhilarating journey of cutting-edge tinkering and technological marvels, encompassing 15 indispensable books tailored for budding creators.

Escape to an island of imagination + innovation as Maker Faire Bay Area returns for its 15th iteration!

Buy Tickets today! SAVE 15% and lock-in your preferred date(s).