Let Your Child Awaken Your Inner Maker

December 28, 2012

by Jennifer Griffin

Reprinted with permission from The Homeschooler, a publication of The HomeSchool Association of California (www.hsc.org), a non-profit organization providing broad support to homeschooling families, and protecting homeschool freedoms through monitoring and legislative influence.

Not even a week after the Maker Faire Bay Area 2012, I was still creating almost non-stop. I attended my first Maker Faire in 2009 when my daughter Cedar was 8 years old. She said, “The next time I come back here I am going to be a maker.” The next time she returned to the Bay Area Maker Faire at age 10 years, she was a maker. In the summer of 2010, an adult at park day told us about the first Mini-Maker Faire in Oakland and suggested Cedar apply. She decided to teach people how to make jean purses.

Cedar loved teaching at the Mini-Maker Faire. Her booth was so successful that decided to teach at the traditional Maker Faire 2011. Make was so impressed with her work that she won the 2012 Editor’s Choice blue ribbon for her “Make A Jean Purse” booth. All along, I supported her organizationally and learned so many sewing, fundraising, and business intuition skills from her.

Because Cedar is self-taught on the sewing machine, it was easy not to get too involved. I cannot even change the bobbin on the sewing machine. I have finally learned to thread the machine and enjoy hacker-sewing as long as she is there to help when the machine breaks.


         Cedar Taught herself to use a sewing machine. Photo by Jennifer Griffin


Thanks to my daughter I have found my inner maker. See, I am not particularly skilled at arts, crafting, building, electronics, or computers-traditional maker areas of expertise. However, in the true spirit of a maker, I have tried them all and am getting better at them every day. I have also realized how much of a maker and hacker I am in my everyday life. For example, I have hacked alternative health (DIY acupuncture), and make community happen (hosting block parties and networking). I’m awesome at orchestrating makers and helping to make things happen. I am also a doer, and I love to see people make.

My husband, Rob, is also a maker and an inspiration. I encouraged him to apply to the Maker Faire this year since to promote his ideas for integrating free technology into underfunded schools. It turns out the makers are much more ready for his innovative ideas than the teachers at the exclusive East Coast conference where he previously presented.

With so creative energy flowing around my house, I constructed a “Home Hacker Calendar.” I wrote down 365 ideas in 12 categories: Crafts, Building/Design, Electronics/Computers, Recycled/Conserve, Random, Make Community, Hack Alternative Health, Create Fun, Arts, Household/Health Products, Fix-It, and Food. I want to see if I can make every day and keep the Maker Faire energy flowing. Can a calendar help inspire me to make every day? Can I help beginner makers adopt the maker consciousness? Can I help our culture move away from the need to be an expert or ask the advice of an expert? Can I help people learn skills (tricks of the trade) in all areas of making?

Inspired by an idea that I heard about at the Maker Faire Bay Area 2011, I’m creating boxes where people can exchange ideas for making. The original version of this concept was a gumball machine of sorts where you exchanged wishes. My plan is to place these boxes across the country in libraries, hospitals, grocery stores, and independently owned shops. By the end of the year, there should be boxes from California to Maryland and as far south as Panama. Through my Home Hacker Calendar and Maker boxes, I hope to spread maker consciousness.


          Maker boxes to inspire creativity around the world. Photo by Jennifer Griffin


My daughter Cedar inspired all of this! Trust your child. Trust yourself. If they are making, creating, hacking, and doing, leave them alone. They will find their way. Do remember the things they mention most often and what they are most proud of accomplishing. If they’re headed to the Maker Faire, gently remind them of deadlines and fill in those parts where they need help. Do not take over. If you don’t know their craft, find people who do and direct your child to them. Enlist their friends to help as they can be lifesavers for both you and your child.


Jennifer Griffin lives in Berkeley with her four lifeschooled children & wonderfully supportive husband. She enjoys urban foraging, hacking alternative health, and crafting through intuition. She just finished her Home Hacker Calendar 2013, and has a randomly checked email at hackercalendar (at) yahoo.com if you have questions about the calendar. Try to make something every day!







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