3D printing is at the forefront of innovative teaching and learning. It has numerous benefits for kids, and not just because of its technology. 3D printers for kids build confidence, promote hands-on learning, and make learning fun. If you’re looking to engage your kids at home with fun and fulfilling learning opportunities, keep reading to learn more about why 3D printers are so beneficial and for some of Makeblock’s suggestions for 3D printing activities you can do at home.
How Do 3D Printers Help Kids?
When kids realize they can design and print something, they feel successful. 3D printers for kids allow for unlimited creativity and experimentation, so kids can design at their level and build their skills over time. But even beyond the growth of confidence that comes from creating objects, kids also find themselves feeling more confident because of what 3D printers can provide for them. Students with certain physical disabilities may find that 3D-printed prosthetics and tools make their lives, and their learning, much easier.
When schools integrate 3D printers for educational purposes, kids learn by doing. This is a huge step up from pencil and paper learning, which doesn’t work for every student. Some kids learn through hands-on, kinesthetic activities. 3D printers are perfect for these kids because they get to design objects that they can then manipulate and use. This makes information adaptable for students with different learning styles and abilities.
3D printers for school make learning fun. 3D printing tasks may seem challenging, but they’re engaging for kids as they learn to use their innovative and problem-solving skills. Plus, 3D printing feels different from more traditional learning. Students pick up concepts and skills, but they gain this knowledge through experiences that apply to their everyday lives.
Top 10 3D Printer Projects to Try at Home
1. Survival Whistle
A great activity for 3D printing for kids is one that has important, practical uses in their everyday lives. A survival whistle is an example of a tool kids can design, print, and might actually need one day. For this project, kids will be creating a whistle that is sturdy and has practical use for camping or sporting events. You can do some online research with your kids on how a whistle works, and, through trial and error, design and print one that’s successful, or you can use a design template like the one here.
2. Earbud Case
This project may not be one that has survival use, but it’s certainly practical. When earbud cords get tangled, it can affect their sound quality. Helping your kids design an earbud case is a great way to engage them in digital design and technology, all while allowing them to come up with a creative way to keep their earbuds working properly. Here is the instruction for this earbud case.
Carabiner clips are pretty neat tools that are used as connectors. For a child’s 3D-printing project, you’ll want to help your kids create one with two parts: the hook and the working hinge. Here’s a great example of a template for one that’s pretty sturdy. A word of caution, though: while climbers often use carabiners to support their body weight, you don’t want to try that with a plastic, 3D-printed one! But your kids can still use it for attaching something like a water bottle or tools to a belt loop.
4. Pencil Holder
A lot of pencil holders just look like cups, and you could help your kid create one like this with 3D printing. But you could also really let their imaginations run wild with this one. A pencil holder can take practically any shape, as long as there are holes in it for holding a couple of pencils and pens. Guide your kids to measure the ideal diameters of individual large or small holes, and help them make sure the holder won’t tip over. You can find the instruction for this pencil holder here.
Fancy bowls can cost a fortune. Not so with ones you get from 3D printing! The option for bowls is pretty endless when you have a 3D printer. Start by asking your kids what they want to hold, and remember that bowls aren’t just for food. Once they have a goal in mind, they can be innovative and create some neat designs to replace what’s usually a pretty generic household object. Here is the instruction for this 3D printed bowl.
6. Cable Organizer
If your kid loves technology and electronics, you’ve probably encountered the mess of cords that result from all the chargers and cables. Set this project up as a problem-solution: the problem is that the cords get tangled, so what can they 3D print as a solution? The easy answer is a cable holder, but with some trial and error your kids will experiment with how to create one that’s truly effective at holding cords in place. Find the instruction for this cable organizer here.
7. Fidget Spinner
Fidget spinners have become a popular way to help people focus, and kids tend to love them. Think about how much more they’ll love one they create on their own! It’s probably easiest to start with a template for this activity, so check out a preliminary idea and supplies here. Once your kids have the basics down, they can get a little more creative with the design.
8. Sliding Chip Clip
Here’s another children’s 3D-printing project that has practical use. Need a way to keep that bag of chips closed? Help your kids create a sliding-style bag clip that can seal up a bag with less mess. This type of clip works by sliding the chip bag between a long, thin cylinder and a piece that wraps around it. You could design it in two pieces, or cleverly in just one, but either way it will take some careful measuring and creative thinking to get it just right. Here is the instruction for this 3D printed chip clip.
9. Robot Arm
This fully functioning robot arm, which can be controlled with Arduino software, might be the most advanced project on our list, but don’t let it overwhelm you or your kid. It’s a great long-term project for 3D printing and robot enthusiasts! You can find all the parts and supplies needed, plus some videos for inspiration and guidance, here.
Can you 3D print a working robot? Yes, you can! Your kid will need to design and print several components, and you’ll need a few extra supplies for the electronics, but this is a great, longer project for a kid who’s ready to embrace a challenge. Check out these instructions for how to create a super-neat snake robot.
If you’re looking for a great option for at-home 3D printing for kids, look no further than the Makeblock mCreate. Because it isn’t very large, it will be easy to fit into your home’s existing “creative space,” and it’s easy to use, accurate, and has tons of options that will keep your kids busy and learning.
You can trust Makeblock to create products that produce amazing designs. With mCreate, you’ll know that your kids’ designs will print well, so they can enjoy it without worrying about print defects. Your kids will also enjoy mCreate’s versatility. It can print in a variety of materials, and it can also work as a laser engraver on paper, wood board, fabric, and plastic.
The great part is that while your kids are having fun creating and printing an assortment of objects, they’ll also be building their confidence, learning about design, and enhancing life-long skills, such as creativity and critical thinking.
If you’re an educator, the mCreate is also a great option for 3D printing for schools. With 3D-printing tools available to them, teachers will be able to appeal to multiple learning styles and levels, helping make learning easier and more fun for all students. Don’t be intimidated by the 3D printing trend. With a great 3D printer and a few ideas for 3D printing for kids, you can bring all the benefits of 3D printing into your home.