- Parker Barry
The maker movement depends a lot on makers’ generosity with their ideas and skills, and the internet puts much of those shared resources right at our fingertips. These ideas can be the spark that ignites new ideas and innovative risks, inspiring kids to create. Here are five sites that will inspire kids with project ideas and teach them some of the basic skills that they can build upon.
- Make: magazine brought the whole maker movement into the mainstream, and remains the major player. Magazine subscriptions are available in digital formats and print, but the website includes lots of free resources as well.
- The site caters to all ages of makers, mostly in the world of electronics.
- Instructables features user-submitted instructions for all kinds of projects classified into categories including technology, workshop, craft, home, food, play, outside and costumes. Upgrading to premium gets you access to all new online classes and one-on-one help from instructors. Subscriptions start at $2.95/month billed annually. Students and teachers can apply for free premium accounts.
- Many of the projects and how-tos are geared toward adults, but kids could help with some of the projects (and certainly enjoy using the creations — like light sabers made from plumbing materials or a quill-dipping pen). The education channel has several kid- and classroom-friendly projects.
- DIY.org offers free video instruction and project challenges for kids to complete. Makers can then share their creations and earn badges for different skills. DIY Co. has also launched JAM, where kids, guided by mentors, can take online courses in subjects including building, drawing, cooking, hosting a Minecraft video show and more for a monthly fee.
- Skills covered go well beyond the techie or crafty focus of many maker sites. Kids can explore sports like archery and gymnastics; traditional skills like knot-making and leather-working; nature appreciation like ornithology and oceanography; and totally modern tech skills like Minecrafting and meme hacking. Most projects will appeal to tweens and teens.
- This PBS Kids site includes full episodes of the reality show that has kids completing engineering challenges. Kids can also watch shorter videos highlighting different projects, play games and find how-to instructions. Possibly the coolest feature is the “What can you make?” spinner. Kids select three items they have on hand, spin the wheel, and get suggested projects they can complete using those items.
- These projects are mostly geared to tweens and teens but are ranked as easy, medium or hard so parents may find some projects that they can do with younger kids.
5. Maker Camp
- Free online camps are sponsored by Maker Media. Themes for previous summers include Funkytown (music and instruments), Farmstead (sustainable energy, food, etc.), and Fun and Games (DIY games). Themes for 2017 will be announced in June.
- Community organizers can also use the resources to host a neighborhood making camp.
Bonus!: Check out these TED Talks to understand more about the making and tinkering movements.
- Gever Tully, the founder of the Tinkering School, highlights what kids are capable of if given access to the tools and the freedom to experiment to bring their ideas to life.
- This four-minute Ted Talk will inspire kids and parents both.
- In this 12-minute Ted Talk, Dale Dougherty, the publisher of Make: magazine, showcases some of the amazing innovations that have sprung from the minds of makers.
- This talk highlights creations made by adults mostly, but there’s a message for parents about the next generation of makers there, too.