If you’ve got kids just out of school (or close to it), then you’ve likely got your hands full with trying to find enough activities to keep them busy. The pool is great, and the library’s always a good option, but my favorite parts of the summer break were projects… and lots of them. My mom and dad always had a few interesting hands-on activities planned for my brother, sister, and me during the summer, and now that I’ve got two sons of my own, I’m always on the lookout for cool projects to do with them.
One source of ideas has always been Make: magazine, a quarterly release crammed with all sorts of DIYers and tinkerers and inventors sharing their ideas and providing detailed instructions for duplicating their work. Inside the pages you’ll often find reviews of kits that can provide hours, weeks, and maybe even years worth of education — these include electronics kits, robot kits, air rocket kits, photography kits, marshmallow gun kits… you get the idea. Where was this magazine when I was growing up?
With over seven years of content, Make: magazine has provided readers with more projects than they could ever hope to have time to complete. And if you’ve got kids, they haven’t ignored the younger audience, either — you’ll often find special projects in each issue that are perfectly suited for a younger group that might not yet have developed skills in welding, soldering, woodworking, and more.
For those parents who are unfamiliar with Make: magazine, you’ll be happy to hear that you don’t have to go back and order years of back issues to catch up with the magazine’s projects. Fortunately for you, the folks at Make: have just released a special, over-sized edition that collects some of the most popular kid-friendly projects from earlier issues and some new projects just for the special issue. And they’ve printed the issue in 3D! Glasses included!
So, just what kinds of special projects can be found in these pages? How about detailed steps to designing and creating over-sized cardboard creations (such as the 8′ tall T-Rex used as an example) using a free CAD application? How about instructions for creating your own 3D movies? How about super-detailed steps for doing your own silk screening on shirts, bookbags, and other stuff? How about a guide to making your own rocket launcher from PVC and disposable rockets from paper and tape? And the list goes on and on. You’ll find steps for making your own musical instruments, a marshmallow gun, glow-in-the-dark candy, and frozen chocolate bananas and dozens more projects perfectly suitable (and safe) for kids.
To make the special edition even better, the Make: team added even more projects by including more project descriptions along with a photo and a web link at the top of each page for more detailed instructions. There’s even a handful of interviews with young makers at the end of the magazine that will hopefully inspire your own young makers to keep learning, keep experimenting, and keep making things. And parents will find a great article titled “Tips for Building with Kids” that contains dozens of suggestions for helping kids discover, observe, and experiment. And the final page has a HowToons special cartoon dedicated to the art of summertime water fights.
And I guess this is as good a time as ever to remind you that the Maker Faire will be happening this weekend in San Mateo, California. Many of the GeekDad staff will be there (including myself), so come by and say hello to us at our booth. It’s a fun event for all ages, so if you’re in the area and can make the trip with the kids, prepare to have your mind blown.
The special edition should be on bookstore shelves now (through Sept 1, 2012). You can find more information on the issue here.