This guest blog post was contributed by Dr. Mark Weems, librarian at Negley Elementary in Hays CISD. Mark is a maker and LEGO enthusiast.
The library at an elementary school offers endless opportunities for adventure and creativity. Thanks to our principal and PTA, a LEGO wall that measures 80” x 100” (rivaling the one at TCEA Headquarters) now serves as the visual centerpiece of our library at Negley Elementary in Hays CISD and is an integral part of our makerspace initiative.
From Inspiration to Construction
As much as I enjoy LEGOs and building, the inspiration for the LEGO wall came from a colleague. Darby Rodriguez, our enrichment teacher, attended a number of sessions on makerspaces at the TCEA Convention & Exposition last year. When she returned to campus, her excitement was infectious; she described several amazing possibilities she had discovered, including a LEGO wall. I loved the idea.
Our principal at Negley, Melody Crowther, thought that the LEGO wall fit well with her vision for our school; she encourages students to learn by exploring their interests and interacting with their environment. So with Ms. Crowther’s enthusiastic support and Mrs. Rodriquez’ inspiration, we developed a plan.
First, we sponsored a LEGO drive. Students donated their old LEGOs, and incentives were provided to classes that collected the most. By the end of the 2015-2016 school year, we had acquired a large number of bricks at no cost.
Over the summer, I attended a TCEA Makers workshop. I was able to view their LEGO wall, discuss makerspaces with librarians from all over and the very helpful TCEA staff, and discover other activities that would work well in our library makerspace. Peggy Reimers directed me to Diana Rendina’s blog Renovated Learning , whose post How to Build an Epic LEGO Wall includes a time-lapse video and just about everything else you’ll need to get started.
Putting the LEGO Wall Together
When this school year began, I spoke with Sharon Turner-Rushworth, our PTA president, about the LEGO wall. She recruited three excellent volunteers: Susan Santoro, Kristian Henderson Myers, and Kristian’s brother Joshua Henderson, the owner of Henderson Handyman Services. (You can imagine how relieved and happy I was to have an experienced carpenter for this job!)
Using the instructions we downloaded as a guide, we ordered Creative Builders 10” x 10” Building Brick Base Plates (from Amazon.com) and plywood, screws, and glue from Lowes. The wonderful PTA volunteers mentioned above came and constructed the wall in about four hours over a weekend.
Making LEGO Part of Our Library
Everyone is excited about the impressive green wall in the library. Teachers can sign their classes up to use it during designated makerspace times, and students can work on it when they visit the library. We anticipate many hours of fun and learning as our students explore and create with this very unique canvas, and it has also helped us draw interest for the Ozobots, puppets, and other options for making in our library.