15 Best Makerspace Activities for Elementary Students

Are you always looking for new ways to engage your students and let them tap into their creative sides? Are you considering setting up a makerspace in your school or classroom? Or, perhaps you already have a makerspace, but are looking for new activities to engage, excite, and spark wonder in your students.

A makerspace is a wonderful place where students have the opportunity to engage in hands-on learning as they experiment, invent, create, and discover using the various materials and supplies that are available to them. Finding the right activities to offer at your makerspace isn’t always easy, so I’ve rounded up a list of 15 of the best makerspace activities geared towards elementary school students.

15 Best Makerspace Activities for Elementary Students

A makerspace is a special hands-on lab/workshop in a school where students are provided with the opportunity to explore and learn new things. Makerspaces should be stocked with a variety of materials and activities that will encourage students to invent something new, conduct an experiment, build something, or create something original. If you don’t have your own makerspace yet, and are looking to create one, this article is a great resource to help you get started.

All too often, today’s students are not actively invested in their education. They are bored and are not motivated to put in their best effort. In his TEDx Talk, Marc Teusch explains that makerspaces can help teachers provide students with the opportunity to get involved with their learning as they have the opportunity to try new things, engage in innovation, and even learn through failed attempts he shares that makerspaces can help re-engage learners and encourage student to learn by doing.


Makerspaces offer so much promise for elementary school students. They can help students improve their creativity, which is a very important skill for elementary school students to develop. Fostering a child’s creativity can help improve their critical thinking, imagination, investment in their education, and so much more.

15 Best Makerspace Activities for Elementary Students

  1. Make Your Own Harmonica →
  2. Make a Cotton Ball Launcher →
  3. Make Magnetic Putty →
  4. Duplicate Your Drawings with a Machine →
  5. Build a Paper Roller Coaster →
  6. Make a Paper Circuit →
  7. Build a Paper Speaker →
  8. LED Popsicle Flashlight →
  9. Build a Wind-Powered Car →
  10. Junkbots: Robots from Recycled Materials →
  11. Make a Night-Light →
  12. Build a Brushbot →
  13. Make a Frog Robot →
  14. Make a Simple Electric Mini-Car →
  15. Soda Bottle Airplane →

Below you’ll find my list of the 15 best makerspace activities for elementary-aged students. The activities are listed in order of difficulty to help you select ones that will be the best match for the students you work with.

1. Make Your Own Harmonica

Materials:

  • Tongue depressor
  • Rubber bands
  • Cardstock
  • Tape

Time: 10-20 minutes

Description: Harmonicas make fun sounds using vibrations, and in this activity, students will be able to create their own harmonica using a few basic materials. They will use rubber bands and tongue depressors to create a harmonica and then will be able to explore the different sounds they can make using their harmonica. Making the harmonica is pretty simple; first, a wider rubber band will be wrapped lengthwise around one of the tongue depressors. Next, students will cut out two 2-inch squares of card stock, fold them three times, and tape them to the second tongue depressor. They will then put the first tongue depressor on top of the second tongue depressor and tightly wrap rubber bands around each end. Then, the harmonica will be ready for students to explore and experiment with.

Result: Students will be able to experiment with how different sounds they make cause the harmonica to vibrate and compare the sounds they can make with their harmonica.

2. Make a Cotton Ball Launcher 

Materials:

  • Short pencil
  • 2 thin rubber bands
  • 2 toilet paper tubes
  • Scissors
  • Single hole puncher
  • Duct tape
  • Cotton ball

Time: 20-30 minutes

Description: With just a few simple materials, students will be able to make an impressive cotton ball launcher. To complete this task, they will need to cut one of the toilet paper tubes in half length-wise, roll it to make it narrower, and tape around it to hold it in place. Next, students will use the hole puncher to punch 2 holes opposite one another in one end of the tube so they can slide a pencil through the holes. After that, they’ll attach the 2 rubber bands to the second toilet paper tube, insert the smaller tube into the larger tube, and connect the rubber bands to the pencil. Once completed, they’ll be able to pull the pencil back to launch the cotton ball using their newly made tool.

Result: Upon completing this task and seeing how their launcher can send the cotton ball flying, students will be able to build on their understanding of kinetic energy, potential energy, and conservation of energy.

3. Make Magnetic Putty 

Materials:

  • Kerosene
  • Oleic acid
  • Measuring cup
  • Magnetic printer toner
  • magnet

Time: 10-20 minutes

Description: This is a pretty quick, yet impressive makerspace activity to do with students. By mixing kerosene, oleic acid, and magnetic printer toner in a measuring cup, students will make a slimy putty. Once they have finished mixing the three ingredients together, they will need to pour off any excess liquid, then they’ll be ready to test their putty’s magnetic powers. To do this, students can put the putty on the table a few inches away from a strong magnet. They can observe how the putty and the magnet get pulled together. They can also experiment withhold the magnet at different locations above or next to the putty to see what happens.

Result: Students will learn about magnetic attraction as they watch the putty pull the magnet over and cover it.

4. Duplicate Your Drawings with a Machine 

Materials:

  • Cardboard
  • Posterboard
  • Scissors
  • Metric ruler
  • Hole puncher
  • Marker
  • Pencil
  • 4 brads
  • Paper
  • Tape (optional)

Time: 20-30 minutes

Description: This activity provides students with the opportunity to create a pantograph, which is a tool that enables you to create copies of your drawings that are smaller, larger, or upside-down versions of the original. To make their pantograph, students will cut rectangles out of cardboard, punch holes in the rectangles, and connect them together in a certain way using brads. Next, they will connect the pantograph to the poster paper and experiment to see how it can allow them to duplicate a drawing. They will also be able to explore to see what happens to their drawings when they change the layout/position of the pantograph.

Result: After students complete this task, they will develop an understanding of machines, and more specifically, how pantographs work. They will also learn more about scaling/enlarging/shrinking an image.

5. Build a Paper Roller Coaster 

Materials:

  • Cardboard
  • Paper or cardstock
  • Tape
  • Scissors
  • marble

Time: 45 minutes to 1 hour

Description: Roller coaster lovers are sure to have tons of fun as they learn through this activity where they get to design their own roller coaster track. Students will use the roller coaster templates to create the track. They will need to cut on the solid lines and fold the dashed lines. They can then bend each track piece to create their roller coaster. They may choose to use a combination of hills, curves, and loops as they build their creation. After designing the different components of their track, students will need to build support beams to hold up their coaster and attach all the pieces of track together to form one cohesive coaster. They can then test their roller coaster using the marble.

Result: Students will be engaged with this fun activity while also learning quite a bit. By designing and building the roller coaster and seeing how the marble travels on their track, they can learn about kinetic energy, potential energy, conservation of energy, and friction.

6. Make a Paper Circuit

Materials (will vary depending on the specific type of circuit/project you complete):

  • Coin-cell battery
  • Copper tape
  • LED
  • DC Hobby motor
  • Buzzer
  • LilyPad button board
  • Paper clip or binder clip
  • Tape
  • Double-sided foam tape
  • Card stock
  • Paper
  • Brads
  • Scissors
  • Hobby knife
  • Scoring tool
  • Cutting mat
  • Ruler
  • Tweezers
  • Wire snippers
  • Circuit stickers (optional)
  • Circuit scribe (optional)
  • Electric paint (optional)

Time: 15-45 minutes (depending on the complexity of the circuit you choose)

Description: There are so many paper circuit variations that students will be able to complete. To make a basic paper circuit, you will need to apply copper tape to the lines on the printed template. After scoring and folding the corner of the paper near one end of the copper tape, the LED will need to be mounted in the designated spot within the copper tape. Finally, after the coin-cell battery is attached to the circuit, it will be complete and the corner of the paper can be secured with a paperclip. After creating a simple circuit, students may be interested in adding buzzers, motors, or sensors to their circuit to make it more exciting and interactive.

Result: Students will begin to develop an understanding of electricity and the ways circuits work.

7. Build a Paper Speaker

Materials:

  • Paper
  • Copper wire
  • Magnets
  • Lighter

Time: 30-40 minutes

Description: Building a paper speaker is a good activity for older students to do with some adult help. To make the speaker, students will first need to roll a sheet of paper around a pill bottle, or something of a similar size. They should then wrap the copper wire tightly around the upper portion of the paper (about 50 turns). After that, all but about an inch of the excess paper should be cut off, and students should roll the second piece of paper to make a cone. To assemble the speaker, both ends of the cone should be trimmed to make it fit properly inside the paper cylinder with the copper wire. After that, all that needs to be done is to connect the copper wire to the wire from the device and listen to the speaker project their favorite tunes.

Result: Students will learn about electromagnetism and how a cone shape can help project sounds to make them louder.

8. LED Popsicle Flashlight 

Materials:

  • Craft stick
  • 3-volt battery
  • LED light
  • Conductive tape

Time: 10-20 minutes

Description: Students of all ages will enjoy making these fun lightsaber flashlights. The lightsabers are made by placing the conductive tape on both sides of a craft stick and placing an LED light under the tape at the top of the stick. Students then will add a 3-volt battery at the base of the stick which can be turned on or off by pressing the metal part of a binder clip over it. Students can make connections about how the color of the craft stick changes the way the LED light looks.

Result: Completing this activity can help students learn more about circuits and electricity. They can learn how the conductive tape can take the power from the battery to turn on the LED light.

9. Build a Wind-Powered Car 

Materials:

  • Corrugated cardboard
  • Cardstock or construction paper
  • 3 wooden skewers
  • 2 plastic straws
  • 4 plastic bottle caps
  • Scissors
  • Tape
  • Hobby knife
  • Fan

Time: 10-20 minutes

Description: Making this wind-powered car is sure to excite elementary school learners. Students will start by making the frame of the car by taping two straws on the cardboard. The straws should be at opposite ends of the cardboard and should be parallel to each other. Next, they will create axels for the car using the bottle caps and skewers. The skewers will be run through the straws with the caps on either end. Once the axles are together and the car moves smoothly when pushed, the final step is to construct a mast and sail using a skewer and a piece of paper. After that, students can turn on the fan and see how the wind from the fan causes their car to move.

Result: Throughout the process of making their wind-powered car, students will learn more about force, design, and engineering. The activity can also be extended to study the effects of using sails of different shapes, different materials for the wheels, or different speed settings on the fan.

10. Junkbots: Robots from Recycled Materials 

Materials:

  • 1 Bristlebot Robotics Kit from Home Science Tools for each student/group
  • Plastic bottles, cardboard pieces, paper towel rolls, and other recycled materials
  • Googly eyes, pipe cleaners, and other craft materials
  • Scissors
  • Tape
  • Glue
  • Corks
  • Phillips head screwdrivers
  • Hot glue guns (optional)
  • Hobby knives (optional)

Time: 1 hour

Description: In this engaging activity, students will create a motorized robot. Their first task will be to create a circuit by connecting a motor and a battery pack. They will then attach a cork to their circuit, which will make it vibrate. Students will have the opportunity to showcase their creative skills by creating a robot using recycled materials. They will need to connect their robot to their circuit to make it move. The challenge associated with this activity is that students will need to figure out how to make their Junkbot move in a straight line instead of just in a big circle.

Result: As students engage in making their Junkbot, they will learn important engineering concepts. They will have to experiment with different strategies and hypotheses as they work to get their Junkbot to move in a straight line.

11. Make a Night-Light 

Materials:

  • Cardboard
  • Box cutter
  • Paper
  • Marker
  • Ruler
  • Hot glue gun
  • Black paint
  • Paintbrush
  • tape

Time: 45 minutes to 1 hour

Description: Students will be excited to make a nightlight they can actually use in their homes. To create the nightlight, students will need to cut out five rectangular frames using cardboard and a box cutter. They will then use a marker and a ruler to create a geometric design on five pieces of paper and tape one piece of paper into each frame. Next, students will hot glue the five frames to create an open rectangular prism-shaped nightlight. They can paint the exposed cardboard edges black to make the light look nice and sleek. Finally, they will create a base for the light using more cardboard and will cut a hole where they can thread through the wires for the light socket. Then, they’ll just need to put in the lightbulb and their nightlight will be ready to use.

Result: As they work to create their nightlight, students will have the opportunity to build a structure, express their creativity, and make a functional piece they can use in their homes.

12. Build a Brushbot 

Materials:

  • Scrub brush
  • Double-sided foam tape
  • Hot glue gun
  • Tape
  • Cork
  • Small Philips-head screwdriver
  • Scissors
  • Craft supplies for decorating robot
  • Bristlebot Robotics Kit

Time: 30-45 minutes

Description: A motor and a few other supplies will allow students to transform a standard scrub brush into these fun Brushbot robots. To make the robots, students will connect a motor to a battery pack and a cork. Using double-sided foam tape, they will then connect the battery pack and motor to the top of the scrub brush, with the cork hanging off the back. After the Brushbot is assembled, switching the power on the battery pack to on will cause the scrub brush to vibrate and move. As an extension of this activity, students can race the Brushbot they made against a friend’s to see which one is faster. They can also examine how different scrub brush styles act and which type is best to use when making a Brushbot.

Result: This engaging activity will help students deepen their understanding of circuits and robots as they assemble their own Brushbot robot.

13. Make a Frog Robot 

Materials:

  • Cardboard
  • Pen
  • Ruler
  • Box cutter
  • Skewers
  • Rubber bands
  • Hot glue gun
  • Battery
  • Motor
  • Power switch

Time: 45 minutes to 1 hour

Description: In this very exciting activity, students will use just a few materials to make a frog robot. First, they will create the body of the frog by cutting triangles out of cardboard. They will connect the triangles together using skewers and hinges they make. Three cardboard circles will be used to create a wheel for the top skewer that will hold the rubber band that gets connected to the battery/motor students will put in the base of the frog. After the frog is all assembled and the battery and motor are connected, it will jump when switched on.

Result: Students will learn how all the different components of the frog work together to make it move/jump.

14. Make a Simple Electric Mini-Car 

Materials:

  • Popsicle sticks
  • Skewers
  • Tube
  • 4 bottle caps
  • 2 small rubber bands
  • Ruler
  • Pen
  • Battery
  • Motor
  • Power switch
  • Hot glue gun
  • Drill

Time: 45 minutes to 1 hour

Description: Making this electric mini car is sure to keep students engaged. The car is made by connecting a motor, battery, and switch together. Students will then create axels for the car using dowels and bottle caps. The axels get glued onto the motor to create the body of the car and rubber bands are used to connect the axels to the motor, allowing the car to move forward when switched on.

Result: In this fun activity, students will develop engineering skills as they build the motor and body of the car.

15. Soda Bottle Airplane 

Materials:

  • Coke bottle and cap
  • Cardboard
  • DC motor
  • Toy fan blade
  • 9-volt battery connector
  • Heat shrinkable tape
  • On/off button
  • Thread

Time: 45 minutes to 1 hour

Description: Making this soda bottle airplane is another good activity for older children. The airplane is made by transforming a half-liter soda bottle into an airplane that will actually fly. To make the airplane, students will cut the bottle cap and base off of the soda bottle and use cardboard to create the rest of the airplane’s body (the wings and tail). A motor and battery get connected to the bottle cap, which gets placed back on the bottle and gets connected to the toy fan blade. Once the airplane is assembled, students can pull a piece of thread through the top of it to hang it from something. Then, they can switch it on and watch it fly in a circle.

Result: After constructing the airplane and watching it fly, students will deepen their understanding of aeronautics and engineering concepts.

In Closing

A makerspace is a magical place in an elementary school. Students have the opportunity to tap into their creative sides as they create, explore, experiment, build, and learn. We hope you’ve gained some ideas and inspiration from the various makerspace activities we shared.

If you’re looking to further improve your skills as an educator and make sure you are meeting the needs of all the students in your class, signing up for some professional development courses is always a good idea. We’ve compiled lists of some great continuing education courses related to TESOL certification and TEFL. If you haven’t earned your elementary education degree yet, we’ve also put together some awesome online degree programs you can check out.

Last Updated on September 14, 2020 by Emily

Emily/ author of the article

Emily is an active mother of two and a dedicated elementary school teacher. She believes the latest technology has made a huge impact on the quality of early learning and has worked hard to upgrade her classroom and her own children’s learning experience through technology.
She created this blog to make it easier for other teachers to take advantage of some of the best devices out there to upgrade their classrooms without having to do the research themselves. She loves to hear your tech-based problems and share her extensive experience :)

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