Maker space replaces library at Plain City Elementary

Messenger photos by Kristy Zurbrick
First-grader Piper Schrock puts together an electronic circuit in Plain City Elementary’s former library, now known as the maker space.

(Posted Oct. 16, 2019)

By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor

Plain City Elementary’s library has a new name, look and purpose.

Now known as the “maker space,” the room is stocked with electronic circuit-making kits, magnetic building tiles, Lite Brites, bins of LEGOs, a horizontal touchscreen the size of a kitchen table, and more. The set-up encourages students to explore ideas, get creative and develop problem-solving skills through hands-on activities. Several tables, their legs cut down so that children can sit on the floor, provide workspace.

The books are still there, but instead of being the room’s primary focus, they are presented as one of the space’s many stations for learning and inspiration.

Taryn Fuller, the building’s principal, said the school has experimented with the maker space concept in the past and is taking it full force this year. She and other staffers involved in the transformation shared the details with school board members, who held their monthly meeting in the maker space on Oct. 14.

Steve Votaw, Jonathan Alder school board president, observes as first-grader Joshua Clark creates a structure using magnetic building tiles, one of several resources available in Plain City Elementary’s maker space.

Julie Paige, dean of students, noted that the room’s resources offer a mix of high-tech and low-tech options for students.

Teacher Emily Byers said she appreciates not only the opportunity for students to spend time in the maker space, but also that she and her fellow teachers can check out kits and resources for use in their classrooms.

The library’s transformation also includes a new “sensory room,” located in a former book storage space. Students visit the sensory room when they need to take a break to regulate their bodies and minds before returning to the classroom, Fuller explained.

When a student visits the sensory room, they are referred to a color-coded chart on the wall. With the help of a staff member, they identify which zone they are experiencing: blue for tired, yellow or red for worried or frustrated, and so on. The staff member then helps the student choose an activity that might help–for example, jumping on a mini-trampoline, playing with beans in a bin, relaxing on bean bag chairs or wiggling through a fabric tunnel.

Plain City Elementary is the second building in the Jonathan Alder School District to institute a dedicated sensory room. Canaan Middle School was the first.

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