The Gift of Something to Make

Something to Make children's book

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.

14 thoughts on “The Gift of Something to Make

  1. The Gift of Something to Make | My Daily Feeds says:

    […] Read the full article on MAKE […]

  2. Phil says:

    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!.

    1. Phil says:

      You can see a video of the TickleMe Plant in action and here

  3. Ismail N says:

    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.

  4. Stefan" says:

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

  5. Ican Read says:

    It’s from “Mummie”

  6. MAKE | Your Comments says:

    […] the piece The Gift of Something to Make, Ismail N […]

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DALE DOUGHERTY is the leading advocate of the Maker Movement. He founded Make: Magazine 2005, which first used the term “makers” to describe people who enjoyed “hands-on” work and play. He started Maker Faire in the San Francisco Bay Area in 2006, and this event has spread to nearly 200 locations in 40 countries, with over 1.5M attendees annually. He is President of Make:Community, which produces Make: and Maker Faire.

In 2011 Dougherty was honored at the White House as a “Champion of Change” through an initiative that honors Americans who are “doing extraordinary things in their communities to out-innovate, out-educate and out-build the rest of the world.” At the 2014 White House Maker Faire he was introduced by President Obama as an American innovator making significant contributions to the fields of education and business. He believes that the Maker Movement has the potential to transform the educational experience of students and introduce them to the practice of innovation through play and tinkering.

Dougherty is the author of “Free to Make: How the Maker Movement Is Changing our Jobs, Schools and Minds” with Adriane Conrad. He is co-author of "Maker City: A Practical Guide for Reinventing American Cities" with Peter Hirshberg and Marcia Kadanoff.

View more articles by Dale Dougherty