Saturday, December 17, 2016

Have you seen the MakeDo tools to build stuff out of cardboard? They're worth checking out, especially if you want kids to develop their creative side and develop STEM skills.

MakeDo cardboard building tools are so awesome. I am ridiculously, unreasonably excited about these. So great for encouraging creativity and developing STEM skills as well as self-reliance in building your own forts and toys!

I haven't blogged in forever, but was writing an Amazon post today and really wanted to put this info all in one spot because I absolutely adore MakeDo! Love, love, love it!

MakeDo is a company that produces a couple simple tools and fasteners to better build things out of cardboard. You can buy a kit from the company; I chose to purchase these tools/screws separately:
• MakeDo blue plastic screws (2 different sizes, depending on the thickness of the cardboard you're fastening together),
• Grey screwdrivers (they fit into the bolt-style top of screws and hold them really well to fasten then), and
• Black cutting/punch tools (plastic saw part isn't great-- but the punch on the opposite side is helpful to put holes in cardboard to insert screws).

For some reason, I have been over-the-top excited about these products. I guess because I loved building forts so much as a kid, and because this allows kids to make so many of their own toys out of boxes, which already fascinate children.

My daughter keeps boxes and just breaks them down at the seams, flattens them, and stores them behind a dresser. Kind of a nice way to get more use out of the cardboard before it's recycled. (Plus you can always tape boxes back together and use them later for shipping, if they aren't used to build toys). The blue plastic perfectly complements the color of cardboard on its own, or kids can paint or decorate the cardboard, even use the turquoise-blue screws for decorative accents, then unscrew them and use them again later.

I made a kit of these components to give my almost-5 grandson, who is having a great time getting creative with his Makedo kit.

For the kit, I gave him:
• 1 each of the above tools,
• a heaping helping of both sizes screws,
• a mini Stanley measuring tape, which kids LOVE for some reason (from Home Depot)
• (my son 3D-printed these) a few hinges and corner brackets which hold the screws to allow moving parts and stabilize corners (the company gives links to these instructions but you will need to modify to 3D print),
• (2) 1.2-cup Rubbermaid Blox storage containers for the screws (from Meijer),
• some already cut pieces of cardboard, including some packaging that already had round shapes cut into it, and
• a plastic toolbox to hold the tools/screws/containers.

In addition, I bought 2 Canary box cutters (from FoodVacBags seller on eBay--one of the few places to order and not have to wait for it to ship from Japan). These are retractable for easy storage and cut fairly well--I gave one to my daughter and kept one, but as an attentive parent, she could probably let my grandson help use it. From what I can tell, this cutter works about as well as anything to cut cardboard. I also treated myself to a very high quality Dahle Vantage paper cutter, which cuts chipboard beautifully. (I did not pay anywhere near what this Amazon seller is asking, lol.)

Next up, I'd like to get my grandson some nice BioColor paint, 2-color paint cups and a paint cup caddy, paintbrushes, and no-tip water pots, some heavy-duty punches for lighter cardboard and color cardstock, and maybe this book too.

For myself--NOT for children--I'd also like to try some cardboard scissors or spring-loaded cutters by Fiskars or Titan.

I'm so happy that my grandson loves this, that I am assembling a mini-kit as a treasure hunt prize for the 5-year-old son of one of our company's employees, whom we all adore. As the organizer of Michigan's ROBO-CON Festival of Robotics and STEM Learning, I'm considering setting up a cardboard building station for the 2017 event, which is why I bought more than one of each tool.

I would like to note that I was NOT PAID, RECEIVED NO DISCOUNT OR FREE ITEM, and was NOT COMPENSATED in any way for this post. I just happen to think this is amazing stuff and believe a lot of kids would have a blast with this.  : )  Hopefully others will find this helpful and find this product as intriguing as I do.