When Jean Kaneko started volunteering at her son’s kindergarten class in Santa Monica, Calif., she was surprised by how hesitant the children were to play with toys they didn’t recognize, to make a mess and, well, to be kids.
“‘I can’t do that. I’m not good at that,’” she remembered them saying. Even at 4 or 5 years old, there was already a ‘be perfect, don’t fail’ attitude, she said.
So she started bringing in blocks, strange clay creations, crafts, and handing them to the students with no instructions. They warmed to it. The craft supply grew, the activities changed and soon teachers were asking her to go into classrooms and even host after-school programs and camps.
Ms. Kaneko describes herself as a maker, and she brings maker spaces to schools all over her area. Now, those include 3-D printers and virtual reality technology.
“Maker” is a vague term — and…