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These days, it feels like there is just an endless number of maker projects and kits to choose from, and all catering to different interests and skill levels — a blessing and a curse. Rather than spending hours sifting through which maker-focused projects you want your kids and teens to explore, from basic do-it-yourself to more advanced undertakings, we’ve curated a list of our top 5 favorite kits that you can even do with your kids!
The most important thing to remember when giving your kids unfamiliar maker projects to explore is to foster a safe and encouraging environment for playing, failing, and creating. These kits emphasize exploring the maker process from start to finish, meaning these kits provide hours of entertainment.
For kids who have access to tinker spaces, through school or otherwise, 3D printing is often one of the machines that steal the show. It can be incredibly rewarding for people of any age to see their ideas enter the material world before their eyes. However, such equipment can often be very pricey and has a learning curve that is an initial bottleneck to creativity. One alternative that we’ve found that is super intuitive is creating sculptures, art, and other figures with this intuitive 3D pen. There is no fuss with trying to adjust the print bed or danger of young kids getting their hands burned in print pens. With tinker pens like this on, makers can instantly channel unrivaled creativity without fiddling with any of the time-consuming technical challenges that can often accompany a full-on 3D printing machine.
Being a “maker” is often associated with DIY electronic tech. Don’t get me wrong, that is one aspect of making, but the maker world is also so much more than that — it encompasses everything from sewing, woodworking, jewelry to robotics. For younger kids, low-tech projects may be more suitable as it gives them a foundation of curiosity and problem solving without the steep learning curve of more complex activities. Legos are of course a staple that even adults enjoy, but if you are looking for a slightly different low-tech building, the Snap Circuits might be for you. It’s a soldier-free and tool-free activity for building all sorts of electronics, be it a voice recorder or count down launcher. To get you started, here is a great resource that offers tutorials on Snap CircuitsSnap Circuits projectsExplore Snap Circuits’s community hub to learn and share about their products! Join 873 hardware developers who follow…www.hackster.io
Ogobild Stop Motion Animation
If you and your kids are a Wallace and Gromit enthusiast like I am, then this kit will be right down your alley. This hyper-simple stop motion kit comes with a webcam, character construction parts, and of course, kid-friendly stop-motion animation software. Ogobild Animate It is ideal for kids ages 8–10 and also includes a simple manual to learn all the abilities that this kit offers. There are also plenty of tutorials online to spark your kid’s imagination too!
Who doesn’t love the idea of combining everything objects and technology? Makey Makey is an unusual kit in that it turns conductive objects (from bananas to a friend) into a computer key. Using the alligator clips to connect to Makey Makey and then closing the circuit with a conductive object of your choice, this activity is a fantastic way to safely explore electricity at home in a much more interactive way. The possibilities of what you can make are truly endless, from piano keys made with marshmallows to interactive art installations.
There is something so captivating about animation, and even more so when you made it yourself. Although animation usually involves complex technology and expensive equipment, a simpler yet equally creative way to make an animated movie is to make a flipbook. The great thing about a kit like this one is that it’s suitable for a whole variety of ages and skill levels!
Here is a great video of a flipbook showing Michael Jackson performing. The creator uses hundreds of sheets and flips them quickly to create the illusion of motion. While this is a pretty advanced flipbook, making one is not super technical but does take time and creativity!
At the end of the day, the most important thing to consider when buying a maker gift for your kid or teen is to get something that will appeal to their interests. These kits only scrape the surface of what is available out there, but we hope we helped you find a starting point!