Try these fantastic and educational ideas to help keep the kids – and yourself – happy, healthy and engaged while being cooped up for an extended period.
With school kids and adults alike spending much more time at home than usual, how do you keep the young ones occupied without languishing in front of a screen for hours? Check out these 15 fabulous hands-on ways of keeping the kids busy while enabling them to learn something useful at the same time.
With fascinating projects and kits to assemble, toys that kids can build and smart robots they can program themselves, we've got something to cater for all ages and interests.
For the youngest makers
For an electrifying twist on play dough, introduce your kids to a Squishy Circuits kit with conductive and insulating dough, plus a huge range of components including colourful LEDs, buzzers, motor, switch and more. You don’t get much more hands-on than this!
Artistic youngsters will love drawing circuit diagrams that come to life with a kit that includes a conductive-ink pen, LEDs, magnetic modules, and easy-to-follow instructions. While mechanically-minded youths can create almost 700 different circuits with the big boss of snap-together kits. The special baseboard and snap-together connectors and components mean you don’t need to use a soldering iron or any other tools.
Try a quick crafty creation
If your kids are more captivated by colour and craft than circuitry, combine the two and help them make wearable electronics. The Sparkle Stitch kit includes not only felt and LEDs, but a hot glue gun and sewable conductive thread, as well as a pattern book and other essentials.
Or why not get them involved in an art project? Simply paint or draw on cardboard to create a beautiful clock face that you can then install a quartz movement into. Another great way of combining art and science is with a glow-in-the-dark planetarium kit, which children can paint while learning about astronomy.
Build a radical robot
Give the kids a fun and simple – but intriguing – introduction to robotics with a frilled lizard robot kit. It's a fun challenge to assemble – and features an IR sensor plus sophisticated AI that can be set to make the lizard panic and flee, or follow you around like a pet! Or try Tobbie The Robot II. Tobbie is designed to work with the micro:bit SBC (single-board computer, sold separately), which can be easily programmed using MakeCode software, or Python for more advanced users.
Another option is the amazing Sphero SPRK+ programmable robot ball, which is not only scratch-resistant and waterproof, but also actually rolls on water. It can be controlled in real time via Bluetooth®, or programmed using the simple and intuitive Lightning Lab app.
Solar-powered project ideas
Children fascinated with space exploration will love the solar rover kit. Featuring easy snap-together construction, it includes transparent pieces so you can see the gears in action. Or build six different models that need no power source other than the sun! Each of the models in this eco-friendly kit can be assembled without soldering, tools or glue – and if the weather is poor, indoor halogen lighting will be enough to make them go. For a more character-based model kit, give the kids a solar chassis that can be converted from a walking T-rex to a robot, rhino beetle and mining driller.
Kits for advanced makers
Are your kids more scientifically minded? If so, they’ll love this 5MP digital microscope that connects to a computer via USB. It comes with a high-precision stand to let you make the most of its 300x magnification, which will let you see not only electronic components but also bugs and the cellular structure of leaves in a whole new way. For a glow-in-the-dark physics extravaganza, a space rail kit with a massive 11m track will provide hours of entertainment – during the construction phase as well as in use! Or keep older kids busy for hours building a vitascope from almost 200 laser-cut timber pieces – best of all, once it’s made, it actually works to project an animation.
Click here for tips on how to teach young makers safe soldering skills.
- April 2020