As a father I’m always on the lookout for things I can do with my son. The key to helping your kids grow and learn is getting them interested in learning by making it fun. Growing up I remember my father doing similar things. He would take me camping but while we were out in nature he would add small lessons like knot tying disguised as games or as incentives to get something like food. Yeah I swear I nearly starved to death a couple of camping trips. I still wonder if those were lessons or if he was just trying to see if nature would weed out some of his children. The good news is I survived, The bad news is I learned something every time. He did the same thing with erector sets,legos and Rc cars. Little did I know that by the time I was a teenager I would have a firm grasp on mechanics, basic engineering and problem solving. Of course this was all so I would help him down at the shop as unpaid labor but hey I learned. He was a crafty old fox and I learned a lot growing up but only because he would take the time to come up with these crazy “family activities” as he put it. The result of all this is a constant need to learn new things and challenge myself and for that I am grateful.
Parents these days have a lot to compete with Video games,computers,cellphones, and facebook just to name a few. Prying your kids away from these things can be hard. For some wrestling a rabid wolverine might be an easier task. This is all the more reason for us to take time and do things with our children. I’m not saying they are bad but when we let media raise our children we lose the right to complain about how they act when they grow up. So I propose 3 things you can do with your children and a 3d printer this summer.
1)The Diy Printer project.
If your on the fence about buying a 3d printer kit or your wife or husband won’t let you because they don’t see the need. I have the Project for you. Tell your wife or husband (Seriously mothers out there get your daughter a 3d printer instead of a dollhouse) it’s for the children. When the kit arrives don’t rush and let them do most of the work. This is a perfect project to both bond with and teach them important things for their future and it’s fun, They get to handle small tools and assemble something that can print them toys. My son loves it when I let him pick something to print. In no time at all you will have a printer up and printing all kinds of things and your children will have learned all kinds of important skills like Problem solving,following directions,how to ask for help, if you have a couple children how to share and work together. I personally like the Folgertech but any Diy kit will do.
2)The Weekend Project
Maybe you have a 3d printer already or you just finished number one and you need a new project. Here is a couple ideas. Above I mentioned printing stuff for my son. ABS/PLA is cheap Spend one day a week or month letting them search for something to print and print it. I have made all manner of 3d printed toys with my printer and it never gets boring. The ones we have to print then assemble are even better. From Rubberband guns to flying devices. He never fails to get excited. IMHO there isn’t any better use for a 3d printer than hiding knowledge in fun. When all is said and done they get a toy to play with and the knowledge that they helped make it. That is a small seed that will grow into a strong tree someday.
3)3d printing camp
So your little monkey has grown up too much for the simple things. Well instead of letting them lounge around all summer send them to camp. I went to a few different camps as a kid. I’m sure it was because my parents got tired of me destroying the house every summer but if they didn’t want me dismantling the fridge they shouldn’t have left the toolbox next to it. So off to camp i went. I hit a few, Even space camp. Honestly that one was just to see if they would fork out the cash to get rid of me for a few weeks but hey I went. The key is to start early or just put your foot down either way after a day or so they will settle in and find some way of having fun. If this seems like something they might want to do or just a way of getting them out of the house for a while then here are a couple camps I found. Of course you might want to see if they have something close to you.
1st Maker Space
Digital Media Academy
If my father taught me anything it’s that learning starts in the home. Sure 3d printing is an odd thing to think about using as a teaching tool but while it is still mostly a gimmick now it has shown that it will be a major part of our future. Just like computers were for my generation. Besides aren’t we all kids at heart? I know most of you get excited when you see that finished part sitting there waiting to be removed from the bed. Share that with your kids they will love you for it.