Zines on display in our library
Projects, Uncategorized

The Zines Project

I’ve always been intrigued by Zines. The connection to feminism and counter culture is a potent, attention-grabbing mix. The Riot Grrrl movement in the 1990s, my introduction to zines, is fascinating. Current applications for zines still combine creative self-expression and providing a platform for under-represented voices. In this case the voices of kids.

Zines Defined

So what exactly are zines? They’re independently-produced, small run magazines. Before the proliferation of Internet-based blogs and social media, this was a powerful way to express ideas, particularly those outside of the main-stream. It still is.

Scaffolding a Zines Project

When introducing a zines project with kids start with some zines history. Follow this up by explaining that this is their opportunity to tell the world about something that matters to them. This could be a passion, something they know how to do, a story, or really anything else that’s meaningful. Zines can be words, images, or a combination of the two. Show them a few examples of kid-appropriate zines (or at least zine covers).

Since we made zines that were displayed to parents, sent to other schools, and to two independent bookstores, I asked students to make sure that their zines were appropriate for any age-group and didn’t include weapons or anything else frowned upon in the school setting (and I double-checked).

Zines on display during our parent night

I had them create a story outline using a beginning-middle-end storyboard. We practiced folding a mini-zine, using a template, to get the hang of it and so that they could visualize the pages and layout of their zines.

They created their zines on blank paper using their mini-zines template as guidance and I made four photocopies of each of their completed zines. Some students chose to add color and additional details to their copies before putting a copy into separate tubs to be distributed to; two schools, two independent bookstores and one copy to put on display for our parent night, (and take home to keep after). Next time we do this project, I’ll make one additional copy that they can share or trade with a friend.

Collaborating with Other Schools

Collaborating with other schools was serendipitous. One of my colleagues messaged that she was thinking of making zines with her students at the exact same time I was starting my lesson planning. She, another interested librarian, and myself shared resources and sent completed zines to each of the other schools. My students loved seeing the zines made by students at other schools.

Real-World Connections, Profits and Student Choice

The zines we sent to the bookstores were put on display. One of the stores sold each copy for $1. The proceeds were then used to purchase books for the library. The other store gave copies away and donated books to our library.

Books on display at local bookstore.
Photo Credit Meagen Kucaj – Schuler Books

The new books were chosen by the zine authors. I gave them links to a Google form to vote for the titles they wanted to see in our library, and links to resources such as the middle-grade New York Times Best-sellers list (and our online library catalogue so that they weren’t suggesting books we already owned). I made a compilation of their suggestions (with a little help from my fabulous library clerk), and had them vote for their top 3 choices.

You Should Make Zines Too!

I highly recommend making zines with kids. It’s exciting, incredibly engaging, has real-world connections, raises student voices and covers a whole host of leaning standards along the way.

I’d love to hear your thoughts! Share questions, comments and other zine-related ideas in the comments below.

#zines #realworldconnection #studentvoice #studentchoice #library #makerspace #makereducation #schoollibraries


It’s Finally Here! After a five year journey -Social-Emotional Learning Using Makerspaces and Passion Projects hits the shelves today.

Book - Social Emotional Learning Using Makerspaces and Passion Projects

It’s been quite an adventure! This book went through title changes, three different publishers (before landing with marvelous Routledge), and several times I believed it might be scrapped, altogether. I did my best to make it practical, useful. My greatest hope is that some of you, out there in the wider world, are able to utilize the tips, projects and reproducibles to help kids spread a bit of brightness.

You can get your copy through Amazon or on the Routledge website use FLR40 for a 20% discount * Offer cannot be used in conjunction with any other offer or discount and only applies to books purchased directly via the Routledge website.

I’d love to hear what you think! Feel free to comment below, or shoot me an email at growingmakerspace@gmail.com. Happy reading!


Why Do Makerspace?

Today during our professional development we talked for a little bit about why we teach. This led to an interesting discussion about how teaching is the hardest thing that most of us have done and how the day to day can be really rough. If you are in the profession, you already know that it’s not for the faint of heart.

However, making a difference in kids’ lives is hands-down what makes it worthwhile. Some of my colleagues spoke about how they’ve heard, years later, from kids who told them about the difference they made. We also watched this video (make sure you have tissues close by)!

All of this got me thinking about why you would want to create a makerspace for kids. If you do it right, it truly is a labor of love. I’m not gonna lie – it’s work. But it’s also a space that reaches the kids that don’t do as well in a “traditional” classroom. Hands-on activities make the kinesthetic learners’ eyes light up. The freedom to choose their projects gets all kids excited. The variety of materials and tools allows kids to really push the limits of what they’ve tried before. It gets them exploring. Dreaming.

After watching how excited they get – the 100% engagement – how could you not want to build one?


Photographs are something I like to make. This little guy was peeking at me when I was talking on my phone.

Back At It

The Summer is rapidly drawing to an end and I am SO excited about what this school year has in store, for myself and for all of my students.

Summer is such a lovely time to step back and allow space for ideas to brew…and develop into plans. Goodness do I have some plans for this school year!

Sneak peek: More makerspace how-to YouTube videos, lots of detailed blog posts chock full of helpful information (and personally experienced pitfalls) free downloadable forms and more!

Stay tuned here to see how it all unfolds.

“Makerspace is interesting, surprising and FUN!” – Second Grader