5 Ways to build in 3D without a 3D printer

5 Ways Faatured

While 3D printers are great, they are pricey and hard to come by.  Here are 5 ways kids can explore creating in 3D space without any high tech equipment.

1. Use 123D Make to create a model from cardboard.

3D angry bird built with 123DMake next to a toy angry bird

3D angry bird built with 123DMake next to a toy angry bird

Following the instructions from my first 3D project and make a 3D computer model come to life.   This project uses the free 123D Make program to transform 3D computer models into plans to recreate the object using cardboard cutouts or other materials.

2. Crayon Molds

Pouring melted wax into a silly putty mold

Pouring melted wax into a silly putty mold

Using silly putty and melted crayons you can make wax replicas of every day objects.  Follow the instructions for 3D silly putty replicas and clone just about anything!

3. Build marshmallow structures

Toothpick marshmallow structure

Toothpick marshmallow structure

Marshmallows and tooth pics can be great building tools.  Head on over to The Idea Room and check out some great marshmallow engineering!

4. Good old fashion Play Doh!

Play Doh Angry Birds

Play Doh Angry Birds

Don’t forget the basics!  Sky’s the limit when you have a few buckets of kid’s favorite molding clay.  Check out the Play Doh Stop Motion Movie Project to see what my kids made with this magic clay.

5. Use 123D Make to make a folded paper model

Folded Paper plans build from 123DMake and cut with a Silhouette

Folded Paper plans build from 123DMake and cut with a Silhouette Cutter

Using the same program as in #1 (123D Make) we can load models found in their huge library of 3D objects and turn it into paper plans.  These plans can be folded into a 3 dimensional paper object like origami.  More on this technique in a future post!

5 Ways to Make in 3D - Pinterest Image

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Book Review: Sparking Student Creativity


Today I wanted to share a brief review of the book Sparking Student Creativity: Practical Ways to Promote Innovative Thinking and Problem Solving (found here).  I recently came across this book published by the ASCD and felt it deserved a read.

Here’s a excerpt from the ASCD:

In Sparking Student Creativity: Practical Ways to Promote Innovative Thinking and Problem Solving, author and researcher Patti Drapeau explores and explains research related to creativity and its relevance in today’s standards-based, critical thinking–focused classroom.

Even though this book is meant for educators I felt the topic was so compelling that it was worth the read.  In fact, this book is chock full of practical examples for teachers to inspire creativity in the classroom across an array of subject matter.  But more than that Patti Drapeau touches on some key principles of creativity that all parents could benefit from. Below are a few takeaways that I found invaluable:

  • Creativity can be intentional.

Many people believe that a person is born as creative or analytical and there’s no way to rebalance.  Patti shows that creativity is a muscle that grows with exercise, and that creativity can be an intentional aspect of learning.

  • Help Minimize the Fear of Failure.

Most children are eager creators, but over time lose their interest.  This is often due to the fact that as we mature and become more self-aware we also fear criticism and failure.  Helping your child build resiliency will help their ability to create without fear and stay connected with their interests.

  • Fluency, Flexibility and Connecting Unrelated Ideas

Finally, this Sparking Student Creativity emphasizes some important aspects of the creative process to practice with children.  Fluency- creating many ideas, flexibility- modifying those ideas, and being able to connect unrelated ideas in interesting ways all help build creative muscle.

Teachers and parents with an interest in cultivating children’s creativity will certainly appreciate this book!





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We are all a little bit #LikeAGirl


After seeing Aways’ excellent #LikeAGirl ad during the SuperBowl I couldn’t shake the feeling that somehow I could relate to it.  Despite the fact that I’m not a girl and I’m over a quarter century older then these children, I still felt as though it struck a cord.

The thing that feels familiar is the criticism and fear of failure when you choose to create.  I’ve talked before about children losing the desire to create and how we need to encourage creativity as our kids grow.  I’m grateful to P&G for displaying so simply and elegantly that we need to work to ensure our children (and especially our girls) hold on to their confidence, individuality, creativity and self.  Well done P&G!

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Back Story

The idea for SparkWonder began as a I contemplated my children’s future, about their possible careers and what problems they would need to solve. How could I help and what advantage could I give my children that would be meaningful for their generation?

The more I thought about it the more I realized that it wasn’t a problem of teaching technology, math or science. This wasn’t an engineering problem but a creativity problem. The problems that the next generation will face will require both a deep understanding and an ability to creatively apply what they know. What I found lacking in the goals of state curricula and Common Core standards wasn’t the content but the lack of emphasis on creativity and it’s role in understanding.

Kids are natural creators. You don’t need to encourage a 5 year old to create, just give a blank canvas and a tool and they will turn out masterpiece after masterpiece. But something happens as we mature. As a child’s ability and confidence increases so does their self awareness. We all develop this fear of criticism and in so, most of us simply stop creating. Not only in the form of art, but also in our learning and problem solving. This is a vital skill, a differentiator, the thing that will set the geniuses apart from the crowd.

But where to being? That brings us back to the focus of SparkWonder. The idea is simple… work hard to increase children’s confidence, have them learn from feedback they receive, build a resilience to criticism and challenge their minds.

This is work that can take place in the home. I love to teach through making, making things that challenge the mind both artistically and analytically. Stretching the imagination and letting the child forge their way.

Here you will find projects, ideas and information centered around sparking your child’s imagination. Projects that engage and that can be customized to fit the child’s age and interests.

The last piece of the puzzle is you. Your sharing and feedback can give this site life of it’s own. Share what works and what doesn’t, share the products of young imagination and your own ideas.

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