(BPT) - A teacher's ultimate goal is to instill a lifelong love of learning in their students. When kids are passionate about learning, the sky is the limit! Educators can support students' creativity and natural curiosity in numerous ways, and one method getting a lot of attention recently is playful, hands-on learning.

When kids have fun and explore their interests, learning comes naturally. That's why play has a fundamental role in the curriculum of students at any age. At the center of this playful learning movement is something called a makerspace, which is a collaborative workspace where kids can explore, create and learn by using a number of different materials and tools.

Makerspaces have appeared in libraries, schools and community centers, and when you implement one into your classroom design, you're sure to be impressed with the results. Students will line up to use this space during free periods, making it a worthwhile investment for any grade level. To get started, consider these five tips from the educational experts at LEGO Education.

1. You can make a makerspace anywhere.

You don’t need a designated makerspace to lead a maker project. Making can happen anywhere! Many schools are opening makerspaces in classrooms, libraries, and STEM labs, but you can make a makerspace anywhere with a simple collection of materials on a classroom shelf, in a cart, or even organized on a LEGO® baseplate.

2. Mix up your media.

Makers often use mixed media to create rapid prototypes, so it’s recommend to start with a modest assortment of supplies, including:

• Paper and cardboard

• Buttons

• Fabric and fibers

• Recycled and reusable objects

• Photos

• Objects from nature

• Pencils, crayons and markers

Including mixed media allows students to unleash their imagination, and develop their creative design skills and understanding of aesthetics. You could also consider providing a ‘materials library’ of arts and crafts materials that you already have in your classroom.

3. Be inspired.

Are your students studying community? Why not design a new transportation system, building, or bridge? Does a character in a book they are reading face a challenge? Your students could design something to solve it! Studying Mars? Try designing a new colony, habitat, or exploration rover. You could even ask your students what they want to make. The opportunities are endless.

To help you deliver inspiring Maker projects, LEGO® Education has created a variety of Maker Lesson Plans for Preschool, Elementary and Middle School.

4. Start simple to help build creative confidence.

Don’t overthink how students create in the makerspace. Curiosity and imagination should guide them; there doesn't need to be a set curriculum. However, you can use concepts in your curriculum to support makerspace activities. For example, have plenty of yarn and fabric available in your makerspace after discussing ancient textiles. Or, bring in an old radio for tinkering after you teach about radio frequencies.

5. A makerspace is what you make it.

You and your students ultimately decide how to create your makerspace. By encouraging playful learning and tinkering, you have the ability to:

• Support the social and emotional development, creativity, and academic skills of your students.

• Build knowledge, and critical-thinking & collaboration skills.

• Give students the chance to be risk takers and helping them accept and learn from their mistakes.

• Enable an environment of student choice and self-directed learning.

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