Kids these days, right? Actually…wrong. Although it seems like children today have the attention span of a lab rat, they are a lot more intellectually present than adults give them credit for. It’s because of the tools that they’ve grown up using — tablets, smartphones, social media, and the power of the Internet — which have taken adults a lot longer to get used to. Kids want to use technology in hands-on ways and learn how to create things for themselves, so this year, it might be smart to give presents that facilitate their developed learning style. Today, 3D printers offer an amazing array of gifts for children that do just that. Here are some ideas that your kids might enjoy:
1. Digital Dollhouse: The dollhouse is still a popular toy today, but parents don’t remember being able to design and print their own miniature furniture to place in their dream house. With current technology, this is actually possible. 3D Systems and Digital Playspace have teamed up on a project called Digital Dollhouse, which will allow kids to design wallpaper, assorted furniture, and other home accessories. Then, they’ll be able to realize their finished ideas with a 3D printer. If your children are happy with their creations, they can share the design files on a global network of dollhouse fans, and then grab some new designs for their place. This idea is just getting started, but it has the potential to be huge.
2. Toy City: Perhaps your kid would rather build a city than decorate a tiny house with furniture, and there’s a 3D-printed option for that too. Cityscape is a design app on Cubify that lets you choose a foundation, skyscrapers, smaller buildings, and basic attractions like a sports arena. From there, your child can add text to the base of their miniature city; they might want to name their creation, or add a short motto for the town. Once your child is pleased with the finished product, you can help them download the design and transfer it to a 3D printer, which will replicate it to the last detail. Whether they decide to put their newly printed city through a flash flood or step on it like a monster movie is ultimately up to them.
3. Transformable Robot: This year, give your child the gift of toy robot destruction for their birthday. Offered in changeable sections — head, arms, legs, and torso — you can either wrap a present filled with robot parts and let them assemble their own figure, or you can go online with your child and let them choose their ideal robot piece by piece. Going the latter route, kids will also be able to add more detail to their design, with unique widgets, visors, and other interesting shapes to place on their robot’s body.