This page offers out-of-the-box, creative options for inspiring right-brained children to develop their creative outlet of building or electronics. Click on the image for a link to the product. Longer reviews will have its own tab. I would love to hear your recommendations by using the comments section at the bottom of the page!
One year ago I shared with a friend a project that my middle son had made. She suggested that we check out diy.org. I remember pulling up the site and thinking it looked interesting. The kids were in bed, so I showed it to them the next morning. They were intrigued and wanted to join diy.org. None of us had a clue about the journey we were about to embark on. See the rest of Michele’s review here.
A staple for every builder! ~Cindy G.
My 9 yr old son also loves to invent stuff. For awhile he really enjoyed watching the PBS show, Design Squad, which you can see their episodes online. From this website there is also a Parent/Educator site that has a bunch of hands-on engineering projects, along with other resources. It was on this site that I found Time to Invent, which is a curriculum to start your own Invention Club. We started an Invention Club based on this curriculum this year with some of our friends and so far it’s been a lot of fun. Some of the projects are a bit on the smaller scale than my son would like; however, it seems to be a good jumping off place and one that gets kids thinking “outside the box” and get them cooperating and working with others. ~Chris
The New Way Things Work
by David Macaulay
We visit our Habitat for Humanity Restore and let him pick out pulleys, springs, building supplies that they charge very little for. ~Jelinda
My electronics son buys ceiling fans from all the area ReStores. He gets parts from there as well as he custom builds them. He now is volunteering there at 17 restoring any ceiling fans that come in. ~Cindy G.
My artist son, my writer daughter, and my builder son all were intrigued with this book in the 8 to 10 year time frame. Maybe it tapped into their creative side that says that great things can come from anywhere. ~Cindy G.
My builder daughter enjoyed taking apart equipment such as VCRs and other electronics–safety glasses are a must—little springs can go flying unexpectedly. ~Sarah
My son is 8 1/2 as well, and has always been into inventing. He has elaborate designs sketched out all over the place. We let him collect broken electronics and things from other families and he disassembles them. Then we discuss the components, and what makes what work this way and why. We have a mixer, a toaster, 2 desktop computers, 2 radios, and who knows what else in his pile of treasures. I allow him a corner of the basement for his workshop. Of course there is a safety discussion to be had first, but he LOVES it. ~Kat
Insight Technical Education
By Melvin G. Peterman
Complete-A-Sketch 123 was a good fit for my builder/art son. It’s hands on, they replicate an image using guide marks, then for more of a challenge can try it free hand. ~Michele
A Program Designed to Encourage Kids to Think Outside of the Box
Projects from the blog, Think!, were wonderful for my builder son. I gathered all supplies, put them in a plastic tub, printed off the projects, and let him work through them. ~Michele
My inventor/electronics right-brained son has enjoyed Make’s site, magazines, and books. He buys his supplies at Radio Shack. ~Michele
My son started taking electronics classes when he was 8 and he definitely has the Edison Trait that Mr. Phillips talks about on the website. He is 12 now and still taking classes with Quick Study Labs (all online) and using a college level electronics textbook, and loving it. The courses (Edison Project 1 – 8) utilize Snap Circuits 300 set along with a book from Mr. Phillips. You can sign up for Edison Project 1, 8 weeks for $55 and see if he likes it. I really helped my son find his niche and he has really taken off. Last semester he audited an electrical engineering class at a 4 year college in town. ~Courtney
My son loves Keva blocks. I got him the Contraptions set last year for Christmas and he keeps it out all the time and wants more. ~Dana
Design: Creation of Artifacts in Society
by Karl T. Ulrich
University of Pennsylvania
For older kids, I’ve been taking the DESIGN course through coursera.org. I wasn’t sure what it was going to be like, but it’s basically a class on invention. It’s very time consuming, (i.e., I may not finish the class homework-wise,) but it’s been excellent as far as describing the process of invention, finding the problems or “gaps” in an already existing design, the process of refining the solution to a problem, the practical illustration of your design solution, then the implementation. In the first week, we had to take a snap shot of an artifact that we liked (one with great design), then walk around the house and identify 10 items with design gaps, (for example, how to switch purses without leaving behind half of the stuff in the first purse, how to transport a laptop on your bicycle, how to build a better mouse trap, etc.) Then we chose one of those “gaps” as our 8 week design project. The instructor is the inventor of the Zooter scooter, and one of the inventors of Fruit Gushers, among other things. It’s probably too intense a class for a 9-10 year old, but I could see a committed teenager doing really well in this class. ~Annette
I think Science Surplus might be a good resource for some of these inventors, too. I know the Mythbusters ordered a weather balloon from them back in the first season when they didn’t have much money. ~Dana
This author combines his love of art with math to create this fun activity of folding paper plates into geometric shapes. My builder son spent hours doing this. ~Cindy G.
by William Gurstelle
Although we haven’t used this resource yet ourselves, I have heard a lot of others who have successfully. I have a couple active, outdoor boys who have an interest, but just not the initiation yet. ~Cindy G.