3D Printing Gifts

Creativity at Christmas: 3D Printing gifts this Holiday Season

DFC

A combination of digital technology, the World Wide Web, and Personal Computer has given rise to a new type of Maker Movement that is rapidly growing in popularity. Public organizations around the country have embraced the chance to create and make, with libraries, schools, and museums identifying rooms that they can transform into a Maker Space.

See Also: Gift Ideas that ignite Curiosity, Wonder, and Imagination

Until now I haven’t had the opportunity to engage in this type of space, but since gaining access to the 3D Printer I’ve been able to engage in the hype and I can say that I’m hooked. Having problem-solving my way through some of the technical challenges and learning curves that exist with 3D Printing, I’ve now been able to explore an idea I had last year – 3D Printing gifts for the children’s Christmas Stocking.

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While making an object that can be printed requires some patience and technical knowledge, there are ways for parents to explore this idea without getting into the weeds. For a start there might be public access to some type of Maker Space in your area that offers 3D Printing workshops. If this isn’t an option you could explore some of the online 3D Printing services. Shapeways appears to be one of the more popular options, but it looks like Staples have jumped on the bandwagon and also now offer some type of service.

The car was a free download to test out the printer. The cubes was my first attempt to create something I had made from scratch. The bottom is hollow so they can fit inside each other.
The car was a free download to test out the printer. The cubes was my first attempt to create something I had made from scratch. The bottom is hollow so they can fit inside each other.

Now, there’s a couple of options for 3D Printing gifts for the Christmas stocking. The first is to visit one of the many online libraries where you can download 3D printable object (Thingiverse is my favorite and they’ve already got a number of Christmas tree ornament options available). The other option is to create the model yourself, which I think is more in line with the whole making and creating concept – so in case you’re interested in this idea, which is kind of the main gist of this article, I’ve offered some suggestions below. I think you’ll need some comfort with digital technology, but you’ll be happy to hear that you don’t necessarily need to make a drastic purchase as the software is free and you can outsource the printing to one of many online 3D Printing companies.

3D Printing for Parents

LEARN HOW TO 3D MODEL – To model you need a 3D modeling program. Blender is a FREE 3D Modeling and Animation software.

  • In my opinion it’s one of the best open source applications on the planet (open source means that the software is available for anyone to use, modify, and share for FREE).
  • Blender comes with a steep learning curve, but comes with a fantastic online community that has created a variety of forums, websites, and video tutorials to support beginners.
  • If you don’t fancy Blender there’s a few other options such as Google SketchUp. Whatever you choose they’ll be some type of challenge to overcome, but it’s so worth it once you see your creation begin to print.

KEEP IT SIMPLE – As I’ve said there is a few learning curves to 3D Printing, so even if you’re super good at modeling in a 3D environment, my suggestion is to start by keeping the models simple and not too complex.

  • My first 3D Printed gift for the boys was a collection of different size cube objects that can stack up or fit inside one another. Nothing crazy!
  • The more complex the model the more likely it is to have problems in printing.

SEND OFF TO PRINT – Like Vista Printer, who I used to print our Holiday Cards, companies like Shapeways offer 3D printing service, so you don’t even need to purchase a printer.

  • The only thing to consider is that many of these companies charge by ‘volume’ of your shape so you need to spend a little more time learning how to size your objects and make sure they’re not bigger than they actually need to be.

BUY A 3D PRINTER – Yes, 3D Printers are no longer super expensive, though they’re still not as cheep as your standard HP Printer.

  • M3D is the model I’ve begun to explore and I absolutely love it (though it’s software is currently a little buggy with Macs).
  • M3D was funded through a KickStarter campaign and only costs $350. What I like most about this printer is the SMALL build area, which for most people is a negative, but I like it because it means I can’t be tempted to build something really big and spend lots and lots of money on filament (the 3D Printer equivalent of Ink).
  • In regard to this article it’s the perfect size to print small stocking fillers such as toy cars, planes, trains, etc. Also it doesn’t run on propriety software so you have the ability to model in the application you’re most comfortable using so long as it exports as an STL file (the most common 3D Print friendly file).
My research led me to the M3D Printer. Negative - buggy with Mac, and some tecky knowledge needed (though perhaps less than others). Positive - Affordable, Quick Prints, and cheap filament (equivalent to Ink), and ability to use any software that exports to STL file.
My research led me to the M3D Printer. Negative – buggy with Mac, and some tecky knowledge needed (though perhaps less than others). Positive – Affordable, Quick Prints, and cheap filament (equivalent to Ink), and ability to use any software that exports to STL file.

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Gift Ideas for Young Children

Creativity at Christmas: Gift ideas for Young Children (UPDATED)

Below are some of the items on our Amazon list. I doubt Santa will be able to bring everything, in fact somehow I know for sure that he won’t, but having a big selection can help out come birthday time.

See Also: Making Christmas Cards: Lessons Learned

The DadsforCreativity Christmas List

Our Christmas list will ignite wonder, creativity, and the imagination

NEW ADDITIONS

K’NEX Hyperspeed Hangtime Roller Coaster – $30-75
K’NEX has a variety of sets that will engage creative thinking skills during their setup. This particular kit challenges the little ones to create a Hyperspeed Hangtime Roller Coaster, and comes with a blaster motor that sends cars flying through twists and turns while hanging upside down! See K’Nex

Sphero BB-8 Droid – $149
There’s a few different toy robots making their first Christmas appearance. Some are sold out, but lucky for us the Sphero BB-8 Droid is still available. These toys are designed to introduce children to computer programming, and might be a little too much for the younger children to play on their own (but I’m sure Daddy will love playing with them). Most also work along side a mobile app, so you need to consider this before making the purchase. See BB-8


OSMO – $99
The OSMO game system works in conjunction with an iPad, and offers apps that foster creative thinking by bridging the real and digital realms. The game system includes all OSMO offerings, including puzzles and activities that engage young children in drawing, problem-solving, and critical thinking. Visit Osmo

A puzzle solving game is one of the offerings in the OSMO Game System
The OSMO system comes with a little camera that follows the child’s progress through the activity.

Tiggly $20-$30
Like OSMO, Tiggly works in conjunction with the iPad, providing shapes that children use to engage in the interactive experiences offered through the Tiggly apps. Tiggly targets young children, and is helpful in introducing them to the interactive nature of mobile devices while also introducing them to shapes and form. Visit Tiggly

Snap Circuit Jr. SC-100 Electronics Discovery Kit – $30
There are a few electronic discovery kits on the market at the moment. This one doesn’t brake the bank and it’s 30 components allow children to create 101 different electronic projects. The pieces include snap wires, slide switches, an alarm circuit, a music integrated circuit, and a speaker, that all easily snap together on a plastic grid. Visit Snap Circuit

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Lego Motorized Mechanisms Base Set – $160
It wouldn’t be a Christmas without some Lego under the tree. Any boxset will offer an opportunity to engage Creativity, but the education sets with power supply allow young children to investigate motorized machines, calibrate and capture wind, and study gearing mechanisms. Visit Lego Education

Makey Makey – $49
Makey Makey turns the whole world into a keyboard. It’s a simple invention kit that allows young children to tinker with simple electronics and computer programing. One of it’s most known images shows some banana’s serving as a controller for a computer game.Visit Makey Makey

LittleBits Electronics Base Kit – $99 (NOW $69 on Amazon!)
LittleBits has been gaining traction as part of the Maker Movement, where educators looks to integrate tools that allow children to create and make. Like the Snap Circuit it introduces the basics of electronics with a set of tools that easily snap together, but LittleBits connect via magnets and come with a little more freedom to explore and play. Visit LittleBits

Magnetic Tiles – $50 – $100
When I reflect on the toys that Arthur has played with most it, his magnetic tiles are high up on the list. He’s built nearly everything imaginable over the years and now his younger brother is getting involved. It’s time to add to the set! See Magnetic Tiles

The magnetic tiles have been one of the most popular toys in our household and find their way into a variety of different games and imaginary worlds.
The magnetic tiles have been one of the most popular toys in our household and find their way into a variety of different games and imaginary worlds.

MindWare KEVA Contraptions Playset $45
All young children like to create and make. Most seem fascinated with cause and effect, and usually enjoy initiating some type of chain reaction. I haven’t got a lot of experience with the KEVA blocks, but this particular set has got my interest with it’s 200 wooden planks, ramps, and paths that are used to create some type of contraption. I heavily suspect this will be one of the items making its way down the chimney come Christmas Eve.

Stay tuned to this page as I’ll be updating my list as we get closer to the big day.


 

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Creativity in Education: Exploring the Imbalance. is a documentary film that explores Creativity in education. To gain FREE access, simply comment below and we’ll follow up with a link and password.

 

 

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MobileApps_Cyber-Monday

CYBER MONDAY: What Mobile Apps should parents look out for this weekend?

    CYBER MONDAY DEALS (FALL 2015)

Usually Saturday’s is devoted to a 3 Question Interview, where we get to hear ideas from subject matter experts on Creativity or creative activities. However, this Monday is CYBER MONDAY, which means there’s an opportunity for us to grab some new mobile apps at discounted prices. Sadly, it’s impossible to know what apps will go on sale come Monday, but I’m going to share some of my more recent favorites, as well as three from a previous 3 Question Interview with award winning educator Jonathan Nalder.

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Now as I’ve referenced in the past, most toddlers will begin to develop an interest in mobile devices by observing their parents with the technology, but there are some specific apps that offer the type of interactivity that can enhance the experience for our young ones.

SEE ALSO: Introductory Apps for Toddlers

This CYBER MONDAY look out for apps produced by WonderKid, and as of today Tiny Farm – Animals, Tractors, and Adventures, is currently available for FREE. Other Toddler apps to look out for are Baby Musical Hands and Toddler Cars.

For preschool, the selection expands considerably and parents should identify apps that fit their child’s interest and creativity. My new favorite, The Earth by Tinybop is right now discounted at 75% off, and another preschooler app to checkout this weekend is LaunchPad.

Here are 3 others suggested by award winning educator Jonathan Nalder as part of a DadsforCreativity 3 Question Interview on Mobile Apps for Childhood Creativity.

 

DFC

We’ve received requests on what mobile apps are best for young children? What are your three mobile apps for creativity at home or in the classroom?

Minecraft – is far and away one of the most popular apps for 4-10 year olds – because it lets them use their imagination and challenges them to constantly problem solve. Only caution is to manage access to the ‘survival mode’ for younger children as it introduces gameplay elements such as dying, zombies and other such elements.

MyPlayhome – is now a series of apps that allow kids to act out home, shopping and school/ kindy environments. A great one for them to experiment with different situations and to explore the interactive rooms on offer.

PuppetPals – a super simple app for creating animated videos that records a child’s voice and on-screen movements of puppet characters (which can include their own face) to introduce them to digital storytelling.


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JF VR4

Playdate with New Tech: I Spy With My Little Eye…Virtual Reality

DFC

You played the game with your kids. Cup your hands like a camera lens – look around 360 degrees – up and down – side to side – until you spot something: “I spy with my little eye….”

But the whole game is about to change – the very definition of “what you see” is about to take you down a rabbit hole into a new world of experiences!

Last week my eleven year-old daughter and I got a crash course in Virtual Reality thanks to an innovative app from the NY Times (NYTVR) and a cardboard Google VR viewer (above):

Times editor Jack Silverstein termed The Displaced, the paper’s first story in the field of virtual reality journalism, “a new frontier in storytelling.” The idea behind what’s being called ‘immersive journalism,’ according to Lorne Manly, “is that the visceral experience of VR makes the viewer a new kind of witness.”

See Also: Our First Weekend with GOOGLE CARDBOARD

After Natalie and I downloaded the VR app for my iPhone, we were given the option to watch The Displaced, a virtual reality story/documentary that is shot in South Sudan, Ukraine and a Syrian refugee settlement camp, by looking right at the phone screen or, much much better – by placing the phone in the Google viewer. There is no comparison:

The magic of emerging virtual reality technology,” the Times explains, “is that it takes viewers close, very close, to the children — and the world — that are the subjects of the film. So close that at points in the 10-minute film, it seems that each of three children is standing right in front of you, looking you in the eyes.”

And it is magic. Natalie and I each took turns experiencing the sensation of VR – as we seemingly travel with a young Sudanese boy as he maneuvers a make-shift skiff through a swamp – look from side to side and you see what he sees as he stands in the skiff – look upward – you lose sight of him, but see the African sky – now glance down & there is the bow of the skiff gliding through the muddy water!

“Virtual reality is famously indescribable,” Peter Rubin reports in Wired, “I can write all day about what it’s like to descend into the sea in a shark cage, or hang out with a lonely hedgehog, or walk through the streets of Liberia… until you do it yourself, though, it’s all just words.”

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I will save for another post how VR is already being used:

  • for creative applications in k-12 curriculums
  • in simulations for medical school students
  • in training purposes for the military
  • in game-based recreation as well as game-based learning experiences

College and NFL teams have begun to use Virtual Reality to evaluate potential players: imagine putting a VR helmet on a college QB and have him take snaps against a virtual opponent!

Robert Hof likens VR headsets to “juiced-up View-Master toy stereoscopes …allowing viewers to navigate three-dimensional videos and animations. The 360-degree images and sound shift with the user’s head movements, tricking the brain into reacting as if it were all real.”

And this is only the beginning.

For the fun of it Natalie and I traded experiences of what we’d like to experience in VR. Without hesitating, she wanted to zip line through the rain forests in Costa Rica. I was torn between driving the Patriots downfield with the vision of Tom Brady, and experiencing a visit to a Tibetan monastery. Maybe one then the other.

In The Future of Virtual Reality Janson Ganz asks, “What would you do if you could do anything? Would you be a rockstar, playing a sold out arena? Or be a surfer, riding the gnarliest 100-foot swells this side of Hawaii? No seriously, stop for a second and picture it. Imagine yourself there. For most people, this is a fun hypothetical question. But not too long from now, it’s going to become reality… because nothing is ever going to be the same.”

What would you like to experience right now? The sky is the limit – where would you like to go? The rabbit hole is just a VR headset away.


CE_FREEMOVIEV3COMMENT BELOW for FREE FILM on Creativity in Education

Creativity in Education: Exploring the Imbalance. is a documentary film that explores Creativity in education. To gain FREE access, simply comment below and we’ll follow up with a link and password.

 

 

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