GeekDad Review: D.I.Y. Kids

Geek Culture

DIY KidsDIY KidsObservation #1: It’s hard for male geeks to understand the difference between he-geek and she-geek. Every fiber in my body wants my daughters to like computers, electronics and gaming. What I have to accept is that girls have different interests and aptitudes that are, in their own way, just as geeky.

Observation #2: Crafting is how girls connect to their inner geek.

Recently I read D.I.Y. Kids (Princeton Architectural Press) by Ellen and Julia Lupton, identical twin sisters. One is a curator at the Cooper-Hewitt design museum, the other a professor of English at UC-Irvine. Together they’ve created a really neat book that helps young people with crafty, creative projects.

With sections focused on Graphics, Home, Toys, and Fashion, the book’s 90+ projects range from making your own stuffed animals to printing a zine or designing an alphabet. Graffiti wristbands, decoupage purses, book plates! All of the projects described were actually done by kids and the results displayed, giving the book a genuine feel. My favorite involves helping kids create their own tiling computer wallpaper. Most kids are content to download their wallpaper from the Internet, feeling like they can’t create anything cool on their own. With the a technical how-to and some creative encouragement, whatever they create will be far more original and unique than anything found on the internet. None of the activities in the book are too crazy or difficult for the average kid.

I should note that, despite my weighty intro on girl geeks and craftiness, the fact is that most of the projects in this book can appeal to pretty much any kid, and these sorts of activities are a great precursor to more advanced geekiness. The most important skill to learn, of course, is the confidence that you can “Do It Yourself” and you don’t need to buy something or limit yourself to a product’s intended uses. D.I.Y. Kids inspires with its genuineness and creativity. If you’re looking for geeky activities for kids too small for the “big stuff” or more interested in the crafty end of the spectrum, you could do worse than this book.

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