Review: Mini Maker Fair @ Barnes and Noble (ALT Title: Princeling Learns to Stand his Ground

So all of this weekend, Barnes and Noble are doing a Maker Fair all across the country. It’s a really cool idea, and when we went yesterday we had a blast. For the most part. The Princeling was REALLY EXCITED because he wants to be an engineer or a scientist when he grows up.

They have 3 different types of things scheduled:

Make Workshop: Demos of products like 3d printers, little bitty robots and such. The Princeling really enjoyed seeing the things that came out of a 3d printer… but none of the patience to do it. It has such small fillaments… and it takes sooo long. But still, very interesting! So we the little robots we saw, that you could program with pens.

Meet the Maker: Umm… we didn’t stay for any of this. Sorry!

Make & Collaborate: This, in theory, was an AWESOME idea! But they forgot one thing… At most commercial stores, when there is a MAKE event (Toys R Us, Home Depot), the event is free… and the kids get to take home the project. I’m not saying that the Itty Bits (small electoral do-hickeys that were super cool!) should go home with kids for free. I understand that they are super expensive. But you know what? Lego has free Make & Takes with Toys R Us. I bet they would have done it for you too.

The staff was great, but a little bit overwhelmed. The reason why is also the reason why Ray almost left before he had accomplished his little Lego Mini-Bionicle. Because really, saw some awesomely bad parenting. Or greedy, pushy kids. Which is the result of bad parenting.

First Rule of Store Events: You need to share, sweetie. This is not your home. This is not your birthday party, or a family event where you are everyone’s #1 Kiddo! And for the dad who thought it was AWESOME that his kid made some electrical doohickey the length of the table… Yah! Awesome! Your kid had all but 9 of the electrical Itty Bits set out. Those 9 had to be shared by 4 other kids. Your kid made something awesome… at the expense of other kids being able to make something awesome. And then to have your kid try to take something from another kid? You were right there, cheering him on. He might be the greatest scientist one day… But if you want him to have friends, too… He needs to learn to share. At least the kids at the Lego table didn’t have their parents with them, cheering their little greedy hearts on…

Which brings us to:

Second Rule of Store Events: Parents need to be with or near their children.  This is not free babysitting so you can go run into the mall, or talk on the phone somewhere far away from your child. My son is 9 and still I stayed near. The only time I was away, was when I went into the Science Fiction and Fantasy section (2 new books! Yay mommy!),  but I still had a line of sight on my kid.

And your kids, too.

The Lego table was very popular. Unfortunately, they were extremely underprepared for the amount of kids. Oh, they had body parts, and heads, and this and that. But only 10 of the cool blue and white things. And with you, dear parents not there, your kids A. Got Pushy and B. Got Greedy.

First with A. If your child looks to be 4 or 5…. where the heck were you? She shouldn’t have been at the table at all. And yes, my son is bigger than her. But she still right shoved him out of her way. What the heck? It was the final straw for him, because there were no cool parts that he needed. 8 of the 10 were being used by one kid.

Ray starts storming out. I appreciate the fellow shopper who was in the aisle with us and didn’t say a word. “But they’re taking everything, and keep pushing me out of the way!”

“Why aren’t you standing your ground?” I asked him.

“I don’t want to push and shove and hurt other little kids!”

“Sweetie, standing your ground is planting your feet and not moving. Besides, you’re taller than all these other kids and have a fantastic reach!”

I decided it was time to stand right behind him, not letting anyone shove him around. Just standing there, being immovable mom.

We ended up going back to the Lego table where the little monsters were learning that they couldn’t take home their creations (ha!). Some of the cool bits started coming back into play, and it was fun again. We saw the ozo bots? and the princeling got to make a track and try that. We went back to the electrical table and he played around some more with those. And little whirlygigs that went up into the sky. It was fun again.

All in all, it was a pretty good experience. People need to be aware that these events are for EVERYONE, though, and not just their special darling. And stay with your kids. Share the even with them, make some memories together.

All in all, I give the event itself 4/5 stars. Would have been 5 stars if there had been an actual Make and Take, which COME ON! Even Toys R Us, the most expensive toy store in the world does every once in a while!

They have an art thing coming up next weekend. Think we might need to see what’s up with that!

barnes and noble 2 barnes and noble stand your

Creation: Finished                                                         Learning to Stand his Ground

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One thought on “Review: Mini Maker Fair @ Barnes and Noble (ALT Title: Princeling Learns to Stand his Ground

  1. So glad you stayed and showed the meaning of standing ground. Unfortunately, that’s becoming more and more necessary these days. Glad you had a good time – I saw flyers for it when I was at b&n earlier this week and thought it looked interesting.

    A note on any art activities you go to – I’ve done workshops for various places (usually mine are done through production companies so I’ve not done any at stores and the setup might be totally different). If you’re not aware of the projects available, you may want to call and ask and enquire if you need to bring any sort of outfit protection – and then possibly have a large overshirt for him in the car, anyway. (one of my biggest anxiety attacks was doing a giant experience with over 90 kids and everyone was dressed up….and we were painting and no one at the host place had given anyone a heads up). Sometimes even I’m walking into a setup blind and not everyone has the necessary mess-catchage stuff available (I always seem to get everything that has paint or glue or messy stuff). And you’re absolutely right – I mean I love kids, but parental attitudes are mind-boggling in these cases,, and I’ve done my fair amount of workshops and vbs art classes.

    It’s one of those things where yeah, a person may be volunteering or working a station, but they still need help wrangling the four thousand people who may potentially come up to it, plus it’s not always possible to control how much supplies a person is using without turning it into a potential liability. I always appreciate parents/guardians/big people who are willing to engage the kids and experience the stuff with them while encouraging great social behavior. Makes things go soooo much easier.

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