MakerBot Print is our newest print-prepration software, which supports native CAD files and STL assemblies,
allows you to interact with all your printers via the Cloud, and many other exciting new features.
my son is 4 years old. When I said I wanted to get him a 3d printer people looked at my like I had ten heads. I knew my son would love it, but I was worried at first that he wouldnt care, would get bored of it, and the software would be too difficult. Not the case at all.
The first thing we did was play in tinkercad. What I didnt realize at first as a parent, is how most of the educational tools and games we used are actually visually done 3d. The shapes are cubes. The triangles are pyramids. This concept was already implemented in his brain and I didn't have to teach it to him. Why not build on this now? The first thing he did in tinkercad is make a caterpillar. He wanted an H on his butt, and a "smile like him" and BIG eyes. I was so blown away by how well he was able to do this by himself. He was able to show me with shapes in the program what he was thinking, when drawing it is frustrating to him because "he can't draw it right" When he printed his own design the first time he was so excited. It goes with him everywhere.
The first thing we did is turn his prints into art projects. I set up a buffet of paint and glitters and he spent most the day experimenting and being artistic.
The second thing we started doing was measuring. The world is trying to convert us to the metric systems, I don't see a better way to do it. They just get it, because they want to. We started with objects he uses all the time, Like his glasses. We write it down in his "learning journal" in cm and then we spend time going over his list of numbers and converting them to MM for tinkercad. He has his own little retractable ruler, and now goes around the house measuring everything, from the feet on his toys to the spindles on the chairs (which he says are cylinders, not spindles).. At four he can now count to 50, and I didnt have to teach him to do it, he learned by measuring on his own.
There are so many ways to get kids into the 3d printer. The fact that in the end there is a "THING" that is finished that they can touch and play with is huge. Its an instant reward, that they had a part in. That feeling of accomplishment is so much greater for a little mind. We make playdough tools, and I'll ask him what kind of tool he needs and to think about what it looks like. I have him draw it out, then we try to copy it in tinkercad. We've made molds and cookie cutters. Hooks for him costume wall.
I am convinced that this has been the best decision I have ever made. This will stick with him for the rest of his life.