Getting Started with Making: Three Back-To-School Project Ideas

It’s back-to-school time, and one of the best ways to get excited about the new school year is to engage colleagues and/or students in a making activity! Making is an awesome opportunity to get adults and youth excited, have them engage a “hands-on and mind-on” approach, and have them apply their insights and ideas to their world or their educational practice. Here are a few of our favorite maker activities that can run anywhere from 30–90 minutes, depending on how you want to set it up, and can be used as an icebreaker, a deep dive into a content-rich activity such as circuits or art history, or as a fun, collaborative staff or class challenge. We have included the materials you need along with some examples.

Thank you to Hillary Kolos, David Wells, and Adam Singer for letting us promote their great maker activities. Have fun making!


Frida Kahlo-inspired Flower Crowns
by Hillary Kolos, DreamYard


Learn how to create a DIY flower headband that lights up and is inspired by our favorite flowers! Look to the Mexican painter, Frida Kahlo, for inspiration and for insights related to indigenous culture and identity.

Tools & Materials:

  • Frida Kahlo and flower pictures
  • Example headbands – finished and unfinished
  • Colored pencils
  • Headbands
  • Glue guns and glue
  • Felt
  • LED stickers
  • Conductive thread
  • Small and big needles
  • Embroidery thread
  • Scissors
  • Battery holders
  • Coin batteries


Woodworking: One Block Challenge
by David Wells, New York Hall of Science (NYSCI)

A blank slate can be overwhelming — unless you have files at your disposal! Turn a 3-inch block of wood into a masterpiece with just some muscle and friction.

David Wells FilesTools and Materials:

  • Vise that clamps to a table top
  • 8 or 10-inch files (mill, round, half-round) with handles
  • 3 inch x 1.5 inch block of wood
  • Sharpies (different colors)

pasted image 0-2filing tool


Electrical Circuit Game Projects
by Adam Singer, Davidson Middle School, @DavidsonMakers

adam singer 1Students love creating games! These electrical circuit games create a high-level of buy-in and have embedded problem-solving, scalability, and personalization opportunities. With a small variety of inexpensive or scavenged electrical components and fast-iterating cardboard, students can quickly design simple classic electrical games with lights and buzzers such as Operation or Skee Ball, or create complex interactive games using a Makey-Makey boards and Scratch.

FullSizeRenderTools and Materials:

  • Alligator clips
  • 2xAA battery holders
  • Lever switches
  • 3-6V Buzzers:
  • 1.5-3V Toy motors
  • ¼” Copper tape
  • Power cutter
  • Hot glue guns
  • Aluminum Foil
  • Packaging tape
  • Marbles, balls, steel balls



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