Creative Thinking, Education, K-12, Parenting

Sew, What Have You Learned to Make Lately?

It’s the National Week of Making.  What are you making this week?

About 8.5 years ago, my in-laws gave me the sewing machine I request for Christmas.

About 7 years and twelve weeks ago, I stored the sewing machine in a closet.

About 48 hours ago, my daughter took it out.

I had every intention 8.5 years ago of teaching myself how to use the machine.

In the time since then I’ve learned how to program multiple robots, use a 3D printer, make electric circuits, and Knox my daughter’s hair for synchronized swimming.

But I didn’t learn how to sew.

This year, my daughter took “Principles of Human Services” in middle school this year, which included a sewing unit.

As part of modeling a Growth Mindset, I like my daughter to see me learning new things.  So, I enlisted her help in learning how to use my dusty sewing machine.

Just to clarify, I have never. used a. sewing. machine. in my. life.

I learned a lot of new vocabulary.

“Where’s the bobbin?” my daughter asked.

“I don’t know.  What’s a bobbin?”

“It holds the thread.”

“Isn’t that what a spool is?”

We had several conversations like these.

It was a good experience because my daughter usually relies on me to figure things out – which I’m trying to rectify – and there were multiple opportunities where we were both at a loss just trying to get the needle threaded.

After I spent hours wondering why in the world any one would choose machine sewing over hand-sewing, we finally got the new/old sewing machine going.


Despite the attempts of our bulldog to sabotage the whole operation by pulling the plug out of the wall.


It’s possible he is a bit concerned about what we are planning to make with this machine.

Bulldog with Fabric

He has never been overly fond of us dressing him.

What I love about learning new skills like this is that they give me a sense of freedom.  I feel like I don’t have to rely on stores to have what I want – I can make what I want.  Can’t find the throw pillows I envision for my living room?  I can make my own (with a bit more practice). I think that’s really a huge part of what Maker Education is all about.

Now, I just need my daughter to take an Auto Mechanics course next semester and I’ll be all set…

Creative Thinking, Education, K-12, Parenting, Student Products, Teaching Tools

Legos are Awesome

There. I said it.  I never thought I would.  Growing up, I had ZERO interest in Legos.

As an adult, I’ve continued to have ZERO interest in Legos.

Until a couple of years ago.

It turns out that Legos are a lot more versatile than I thought.

I briefly related my newfound respect for Legos in one of the posts I did for my Maker Space Essential Series.  If you do a search on my blog, you will find plenty of other posts related to Legos.

Since this is the National Week of Making in the United States, I thought I would curate a few more resources for you that offer opportunities to use Legos for more than just following the instructions in the box.

Make Magazine has an online page of Lego Ideas, which includes how to make a Lego puzzle.

The Lego Quest blog has 52 Lego challenges on it, one of which was to use Legos to represent a favorite song.

image from Lego Quest
Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons” – image from Lego Quest

Finally, here are 25 Lego Learning Activities, which include making a balloon powered Lego car.

Don’t have your own Legos?  Well, you might have great success, as I did, just asking for donations.  Or, you could always make your own, like this student did on his home 3D printer to make a gift for me. (He made the green ones.)

3d Printed Legos

Yep. I used to think the only way Legos could make me cry would be to embed themselves in the bottom of my bare feet at inopportune moments.

Now they make a different kind of impression on me.

Creative Thinking, Education, K-12, Student Products, Teaching Tools


According to the White House, the United States is celebrating a “National Week of Making” from 6/12-6/18 this year.  A National Maker Faire was held in Washington, D.C., on the 12th and 13th, and people all of the country are sharing ideas with the #nationofmakers hashtag.  You can go to this link to get ideas on ways to engage in making.

As many of you know, I am a huge proponent of the “maker movement” – especially within our schools.  It’s good to see it getting this kind of attention for the 2nd year in a row.

For a list of makers who participated in the National Maker Faire, check out this page.  You will see new ideas and new people that you might want to reach out to for “maker” advice.

If you would like some more resources, I have a Pinterest Board full of ideas and links to great websites for Makers!

image from
image from Go Make video on A Nation of Makers