Photo Credit: The Oakland Toy Lab via Instructables
Summer is approaching! And if you are like me then trying to keep your kids occupied during the summer months can become a HUGE drain! These are some of my go-to-projects. They are simple, mostly free and pretty fun for all involved!
- Take something apart! Take a visit to your local junk yard or find something in your house to give your kids the opportunity to take it a part. Why? Well it’s fun and gives them the ability to see how things work. Challenge them to then reuse or re-purpose the materials in new ways.
- Visit your local library! Libraries are amazing resources for families and learners of any level. Many have created maker spaces to teach 3D design or 3D printing, screen printing, script writing and more. The American Library Association even has an online resource www.makeitatyourlibrary.org too.
- Get your kids cooking! If you are like me cooking dinner each night can be challenging so why not empower your kids with taking charge with making dinner on a weekend. Let them browse your cookbooks or perhaps gain inspiration from the Instructables food channel. Kids love being responsible for writing the grocery list, setting the table, prepping the food and even cleaning up.
- Cardboard is your friend! Next time you go to your favorite big box store, grab a second cart and have your kids be responsible for filling the cart with boxes or flat sheets of cardboard. These stores are always happy to let you take this home for no cost. Then throw them in your garage, play room or open space for your kids to create! Give them tape, markers and see what they create – forts, puppet theatre or a robot. It’s amazing to see how they make anything! Check out Caine's Arcade for inspiration.
- If your kids are like mine you hear stories every day so during the summer months challenge them to write their stories down. They can start with paper and pens or perhaps you have a tablet for them to start learning the basics of drawing digitally with SketchBook. Once they have a few drawings under their belt, show them how to animate their master pieces with SketchBook Motion. It will certainly keep your cool adult status!
- For all the parents that have been bombarded with the fidget spinner craze, don’t run out and buy one for your kids. Make them learn how to make their own. It’s actually really simple to start with a paper sketch and use a simple 3D design tool like Tinkercad to create their spinner. It’s easy to find a model in the gallery and customize it. Don’t worry about having access to a 3D printer, you can use a 3d printing service to have it on your doorstep in a few days.
- We have all heard about the importance of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) but let’s make it all about STEAM! Adding the A for art will help kids of all ages connect to these topics in fun ways. Looking for inspiration? Hit up Instructables and search for the Oakland Toy Lab collection of 100 STEAM Projects – like the PVC Saxophone, straw propeller or glitter rockets. Making anything can be fun and educational.
- It’s hard to keep screen time limited during the summer months but why not combine your kids love of Minecraft and 3D design into something cooler. Tinkercad is a free 3D design tool for a beginner that helps kids build their minecraft world faster. Bonus points that all the colors map to the catalog of minecraft materials, you can even see what your 3D design would look like in the minecraft environment. Get them making anything and learn more at www.tinkercad.com/minecraft.
- Looking for local field trips in your own neighborhood? Make time to visit a local maker space. Maker spaces are places where people make, learn and share – places like TechShop, the network of FabLabs, Maker Faires or local universities are great places to start visiting to teach the little people in your life about how things are made. If you are in the Bay Area make sure to stop by the Autodesk Gallery and take one of the free Make and Design workshops!
- Kids of any age love to make anything but it’s also a great way to teach them the basic skills. Instructables is a great resource that offers free classes designed for kids – try out the rocket class or superhero costume class! They are always adding more so check back often and encourage your kids to even create their own projects at www.instructables.com