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The renaissance of self-reliance has brought about such things as a flood of creative ideas on Pinterest 10 Amazing Technology Ideas You Can Find On Pinterest 10 Amazing Technology Ideas You Can Find On Pinterest Active “pinners” use Pinterest to discover cool technology ideas. Here are some amazing technology ideas you can find on Pinterest. Some you can try yourself, and some you can keep pinned for inspiration. Read More , Arduino projects Forget Pies & Brandy: 8 Arduino Projects To Fill Your Holidays Forget Pies & Brandy: 8 Arduino Projects To Fill Your Holidays Has your Arduino been sitting around gathering dust? Well, no more. Today I’ve scoured Instructables to find 8 fun, family friendly, or just really cool Arduino projects for you to have a go at these... Read More , popular YouTube DIY Channels Learn Basic DIY Skills Online With YouTube Learn Basic DIY Skills Online With YouTube While DIY falls in and out of fashion depending on the state of the economy, individual styles, and the availability of professionals and materials, there will always be someone, somewhere keen to learn basic DIY... Read More , and the Raspberry Pi movement What You Need to Know About Getting Started with Raspberry Pi What You Need to Know About Getting Started with Raspberry Pi The Raspberry Pi computer is the latest in a line of compact, multi-function devices, shipped as a barebones package so that end users can use the hardware for virtually any computing project that comes to... Read More . But why should grown-ups have all the fun?

Kids are born into technology, so why not include them in the experience? Teach them to fix and create things and you teach them to take control of their world.

Why Should I Introduce DIY to My Kids?

Because you want them to be people who can solve problems, be creative, think analytically, and have healthy self-esteem. You want them to be able to adapt to or overcome life’s obstacles. Most importantly, you want them to never feel helpless and alone. Does that sound like a lot to expect from doing DIY with your young ones? Maybe, but at least one expert thinks it can.

Clayton Christensen, an intellectual, as well as physical, giant, and the originator of the term “disruptive innovation”, thinks so. He believes that,

“…really creative people have almost always had two experiences as young children: one is, their fathers or mothers had a disposition always to fix things for themselves. So if something went wrong in the house, they would never call the repairman—they’d always take it apart and fix it.”

Christensen explains, “When they worked with their fathers or mothers to fix things it did two things: one, is it gave them a curiosity to know how things work…and the other thing that experience does for them is it gives them the confidence that if something is wrong they can fix it.”

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Whether that’s a learned behavior or a genetic trait is still up for discussion, but we’ll find that the answer is somewhere in between. But why bet on genetics to do the job, when you can do it yourself?

When Should I Introduce DIY to My Kids?

Now. No, not now, as in stop reading this article, but now in general. Even when they are toddlers they can create with building blocks, Duplo or Lego 8 Sites to Rediscover Your Love of Lego & Build up Your Collection 8 Sites to Rediscover Your Love of Lego & Build up Your Collection If that old LEGO box is gathering dust in the attic, it's time to bring it out. The playset is enjoying a resurgence. But eight sites say that it never went away. Read More , and other toys. Just having your children around when you do things leaves an impression. Then they might grow up realizing they can build, and do, just about anything into which they put their effort. They’ll learn that science and technology is for everyone 5 Technology Skills You Should Actively Encourage Children To Take Up 5 Technology Skills You Should Actively Encourage Children To Take Up Crayon drawings still have their place, but technology is no longer only the future. Tomorrow's world is today.Which are the creative technology tasks we should encourage children to take up? Maybe, these five... Read More .

DIY Girl with Building Blocks

Is it Safe for Kids to do DIY?

It can be at least as safe as riding a bike, if not more safe. When you’re looking at something to involve your kids in, take the time to go through the plans and the tools needed. Assess the situation.

  • Is anything toxic?
  • Are there sharp edges?
  • Does it require supervision?
  • Does it require power tools or blades?
  • Do they need personal protective equipment (PPE) like safety glasses or gloves?

After answering those questions and others, you can decide if this project is safe for the skill level of your child.

What Kind of Projects Can I Do with My Kids?

What do you like to do? What do they like to do? Where do those two things meet? That’ll tell you what kinds of things will be the most fun and enriching for all involved. Of course, involve them in more mundane things as well. Every project is a teaching and learning opportunity — from painting the walls DIY Droid: 6 Apps To Help With Your Next Home Improvement Project DIY Droid: 6 Apps To Help With Your Next Home Improvement Project Imagining your summer home renovation project? Get started with some Android apps to help you every step of the way, from inspiration to planning to building. Read More , to using a flying drone for photography Latest Drone Photography You Have To See To Believe Latest Drone Photography You Have To See To Believe Drone photography is an exciting new technology that allows anyone to take awesome aerial videos. This article runs down some of the best on the internet. Read More .

Speaking of building cool stuff, let’s look at some resources to help you do just that.

DIY.org

There isn’t a better place to start. Really. Think Scouting meets homeschooling meets Pinterest. DIY.org has everything to get you started on fun projects with the kids. Even the joining process is fun. You sign up as a parent, and then you sign up your kids.

The signup process allows you to give each of the kids a unique username that does not identify them to the world. There’s even a username generator Create A New Alias With The Best Online Name Generators [Weird & Wonderful Web] Create A New Alias With The Best Online Name Generators [Weird & Wonderful Web] Your name is boring. Thankfully, you can go online and choose a new alias using one of the countless name generators available on the Internetz. Read More that comes up with some very funny creations, like ‘Wyoming Mega’ or ‘Noise Blame’.

DIY.org Signup

Your kids can earn badges — like in Scouting. The can learn new skills with your help — like in homeschooling. And they can share their projects with other kids — like Pinterest.

Once you and your kid are registered (yes, you both must register) pick different skills to learn, to earn the different badges. Badges do cost $4.99 USD each, but that’s pretty reasonable for most people. Once you’ve picked a skill, you’ll have to complete a certain number of projects in that skill area.

DIY.org Patches

Now you pick a project. For the Bitster badge example, one of the projects you can choose is the Wake Up with the Sun. In that challenge, your kid builds an electronic device that is light activated. It’s age appropriate as it uses the littleBits snap together electronic components 5 Creative Toys For Budding Young Geeks 5 Creative Toys For Budding Young Geeks If you're putting your child on a fast track to geeky world domination, you'll need some toys to help them along the way. These creative toys should be just the thing. Read More . See the kind of projects other kids did to get some ideas. You can see exactly what is needed, and how to, build a light activated device.

DIY.org Bitster Badge

You or your kids can video the project and then post it to the site for credit towards the badge. Have some fun with it. There are several free video editors The Best Free Video Editors For Windows The Best Free Video Editors For Windows Video has become a common part of everyday life. You'd think, then, that free video editors would be common. Turns out the selection is limited for Windows users. Here are our five top choices. Read More you could use. You don’t have to show yourself or your kids in the video — that’s up to you.

You can even combine elements from other badges and earn them within the same project. For example in the Wake Up with the Sun project, one person made an alarm triggered by light that played music when a box was opened. For that, they got credit towards their Photoresistor (Solar Engineer Badge), Light-Activated Alarm (Bitster Badge), and Intruder Alarm (Bitster Badge) projects.

There are plenty of badges to earn from many different areas of knowledge. There are the DIY things, but there are also the other life skills like Forager (food from the wilds), Chef (Real Cooking), and Medic (First Aid) that will serve them all their life. Currently, there are 123 badges to be earned and new ones get added periodically. Don’t you wish they had this for grown-ups too?

Howtoons

Did you know that if you’ve got a human dynamics expert, a professor of engineering, a comic creator, and a toy designer, you can put them together to create a kid’s DIY comic book series? That’s what happened when Joost Bonsen, Dr. Saul Griffith, Nick Dragotta, and Ingrid Dragotta got together and developed the idea that kids can learn all sorts of STEM things 10 Best Channels for STEM Education on YouTube 10 Best Channels for STEM Education on YouTube STEM is not just an acronym but an idea that could help transform how our children are taught. These ten YouTube channels not only teach but also inspire to study STEM subjects better. Read More easily. They accomplish this goal by showing kids how they can, “…use everyday objects to invent toys you can build!”.

Presenting it all in the medium of comics really appeals to kids in a format they already understand and love. That’s the masterstroke in this plan, really.

Howtoons.com I am the next generation of makers.

These aren’t just instructions masquerading as comics, either. They have a storyline, humor, cultural references, and distinct characters with unique personalities. Celine and Tucker, siblings with rivalry and cooperation, tackle robot dinosaurs, zeppelin flying baddies, and an energy crisis, in the most amazing ways.

Even if someone doesn’t do the things that are in the comics, the comics still are worth reading just for fun. The [RE]Ignition books are really graphic novels. You can view or buy a lot of the comics on their website, and they’re also available at comic book stores, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble. If you can’t find them in a store near you, maybe talk to the store manager about bringing them in. This series has been around for ten years now — it’s worthwhile for them to carry it.

Makerspace for Kids

Not sure what a Makerspace is Four Reasons Why You Should Visit Your Local Hackerspace Four Reasons Why You Should Visit Your Local Hackerspace Read More ? Imagine a shop class that functions a bit more like a community center. These are places that like-minded people put together and filled with different kinds of tools, electronics, books, computers and resources. Plus, they really enjoy sharing their knowledge and learning from others too.

Some already have dedicated programs or memberships for youth, and more and more are opening up to include older kids and young adults in the fun of invention. Some Makerspaces also run special kids’ days and day camps.

Makerspace

To find a maker space, or learn how you can start one, head over to Spaces at Makerspace.com. If you live in or near a city, there’s a good chance there’s a Makerspace there. If you don’t see anything on their website about including kids, maybe try giving them a call and asking. It might be something they’re considering doing.

Maybe you’d like to help get one going. Check out the video below about how to make a youth Makerspace happen.

Where Can I Get DIY Supplies?

That all depends what you’re trying to do. You might even have most of the items you need around the house already. Another great cheap source is to recover parts from used electronics Thou Shalt Consume: The Story of Consumer Electronics [Feature] Thou Shalt Consume: The Story of Consumer Electronics [Feature] Every year, exhibitions around the world present new high tech devices; expensive toys that come with many promises. They aim to make our lives easier, more fun, super connected, and of course they are status... Read More . If you’re crafting things, your local dollar store or craft shop will have what you need. If you’re building things, check out your local hardware store, or hobby shop.

Furby Skeleton

If you’re doing some electronics or prototyping, look for a Makerspace or DIY Camp near you, or shop online.

  • MakerShed.com has a good selection of pre-made kits as well as individual components, tools, and equipment.
  • LittleBits.cc offers a line of easy to connect electronic components if you’re young one isn’t quite ready for soldering.
  • KiwiCrate.com is a subscription service that sends your family a DIY kit of some sort every month. You get a surprise and a project! How fun!

What Now?

Check out the resources above with your kids and see what would be the most fun for you. Then get together what you need and do it. Perhaps the most important part of “do it yourself” is the “do”.

Do you and your kids tinker together? Have they made something that they are especially proud of? Been to a Makerspace and want to share that experience. Let’s talk about it in the comments below.

Image Credits: Next Generation of Maker via Howtoons.com, Girl with Building Blocks via FreeImages.com, Girl with Safety Glasses via Shutterstock, Girl with Circuit Board via Shutterstock, Furby Dissected via Gratisography, CSM Library via Flickr.

  1. John Williams
    April 10, 2015 at 8:35 pm

    Two things - Side cutters ALWAYS make the cut wire end fly off at high speed. Not everyone in the workshop wil be wearing safety glasses when 3mm of copper transits the room at 10 metres per second. As an "aide memoire" imagine that they are toenail clippings - and everyone else in the room is eating open sandwhiches .....

    Most of my burns and cuts at the bench have come about from "harvesting" parts off old circuit boards. It is one of the most hazardous things you ever do in an electronics shop - take extra care. Also, I now have drawers, boxes and buckets full of bits I've pulled off boards and never used yet.

    • Guy
      April 12, 2015 at 8:15 pm

      So true, John. Eyeglasses are cheap, eyes are priceless.

      As you know, a good tip is to cup your free hand over the piece that is being clipped. That way, it doesn't hurt anyway and it makes clean up easier too.

    • Dan
      April 27, 2015 at 8:42 am

      Simple, you don't cut with the end aimed at other people. Sense is even cheaper.

    • Guy
      April 28, 2015 at 8:07 pm

      Troll.

  2. RON
    April 10, 2015 at 11:22 am

    My dad could fix anything, or at least try to. As a child I had things like Tinker Toy and Lincoln Logs.
    My dad had a small, one man "TV" shop. But he called it ****** Appliances.I would work there after school. I never knew what he might be working on(other than TV's) when I came after school. Might be a 'fridge,or a pump,or anything.I learned a lot there.
    I almost never have to call a repair person to my home. I have a philosophy about broken things, "It's already broken. I can't break it much more. AND I PROBABLY CAN FIX IT"
    BTW, I am in my 70's.

    • Guy
      April 12, 2015 at 8:13 pm

      Hi Ron,

      I love your philosophy. It would serve a lot of people well.

    • Mike
      April 13, 2015 at 3:24 am

      Thank you Guy, I've never splashed molten lead in anybody's eyes, and my kids can recognize hazards because they are exposed to them (at least the minor ones). Kids today are too coddled and need a bit of "danger" or else they will turn into useless lazy blobs or thrill-seeking idiots.
      I agree Ron, have a go and even if if doesn't get fixed we can still learn why it's broken.

    • Guy
      April 13, 2015 at 11:48 am

      Mike,

      Recognizing a hazard is a skill, I'll give you that. Being able to properly mitigate the hazard is also a learned skill.

      Trying to hold your breath while working with noxious fumes is not safe or smart.

      Trying to blink faster than something can shoot into your eye is not safe or smart.

      I agree that kids need to be exposed to risk taking as it is a learned skill, but being able to properly assess the risk and choose your actions accordingly is part of that skill.

      Tell your kids they don't have to wear safety glasses, that's your choice, but also warn them of the possible dangers.

      Tell them that they don't need a fume extractor, but then also tell them the dangers of inhaling lead and acid vapors.

      If you're not at least educating your kids about the possible dangers, then you're willfully disregarding their safety and well being. At that point, you should really have your kids taken away from you.

      I'd rather my kids grow up to be 'lazy slobs or thrill-seeking idiots' than growing up to be one-eyed, or not grow up at all, because I was an arrogant fool.

  3. Mike
    April 10, 2015 at 10:42 am

    "Do they need personal protective equipment (PPE) like safety glasses or gloves?"

    NO THEY DON'T!!! Let your kids have a bit of fun and just learn to be careful. This is just the stupid have and accident and sue someone mindset.
    Bleugh to Nona and Guy as well. Don't stick your fingers into moving parts, hold your breath when the dust is flying, and that's it for safety in our house!.

    • Guy
      April 12, 2015 at 8:12 pm

      Yeah, my son loves it when he gets molten lead in his eyes. I can hear the joy in his voice still..."Dad!!! I CAN'T SEE!!!!! Can we do this again so I can get the other one?"

      I can still hear my elderly neighbor's delightful wheeze as he reminisces about the good old days when they removed asbestos and just held their breath. If it was good enough for him, it's good enough for me!

      Of course, everyone should be careful and watch for obvious hazards. I hope your kids can recognize a hazard when they see one, and not work with you.

    • Dan
      April 27, 2015 at 8:38 am

      You're right Mike. Not everything requires being kitted out in full body armour. I'm sometimes amazed at the amount of protective gear people put on their children for things that don't need it.

      That asbestos example is just silly. Hardly the same thing at all.

    • Guy
      April 28, 2015 at 8:06 pm

      You're right, there is no exactly comparable example to breathing in lead fumes, other than breathing in lead fumes.

      Except maybe that part that once lead is in your system, you can't get it out again, and it accumulates over time. Kind of like asbestos.

      What can I say? I'm happy for you and Mike raising kids who absolutely never make a mistake and pay perfect attention to everything they do.

      My only complaint is why you haven't published a book on how to do that.

    • Mike
      April 29, 2015 at 12:42 pm

      No Guy, the kids have to make mistakes, it's the minor accidents that teach them to pay attention. e.g. My daughter's candle display caught my dresser on fire not so long back, so now she learnt that tea candles do not function safely placed directly on wood. It would have been better had she burned her own furniture, but too late now.

      I'm quitting my job and so might have time to write the book, but it would probably be banned in half the modern world.

    • Guy
      April 30, 2015 at 12:02 am

      I'm glad the fire didn't get out of hand. And I'm glad you and your daughter lives to learn from it.

      Could you think of a way to teach that lesson that didn't result in an unsupervised fire?

      Let's go back to wearing safety glasses when soldering. Sooner or later, everyone burns themselves on the iron or splatters hot solder on their skin. If they didn't think safety glasses were a good idea before then, most people can figure out that if that splatter hit their eye it would have been a really bad situation.

      So, again, why take the chance?

      Pants in winter in Canada is a good idea. No one needs to freeze their bits off to learn that.

  4. Nona Ubizness
    April 7, 2015 at 12:58 pm

    Put safety glasses on that girl!!!

    • Guy
      April 8, 2015 at 12:16 am

      Absolutely correct! Proper fitting safety glasses are a must for children and adults alike.

      You wouldn't believe how long I looked for an image that had the child wearing proper safety glasses. Couldn't find one!

    • Dan
      April 27, 2015 at 8:44 am

      Doesn't look like she was doing anything that needed them.

  5. Malloc Array
    April 6, 2015 at 8:27 pm

    I've been doing http://www.kipkaykits.com to jumpstart my own DIY projects and having a lot of fun. A great way to get started since you get all the parts and directions.

    • Guy
      April 8, 2015 at 12:18 am

      Hi Malloc,

      I didn't realize Kip Kay had his own kits now. Thank you for letting us know!

      I remember when Kip started making how-to videos for the web. Definitely an innovator.

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