3D printing and Preschool

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I'm not a teacher, but I have one child in a grant funded pre-school and my youngest (hopefully) will start next year.
I'm was wondering is there is much I can print to help them out?

I have suggested to one teacher that I could print more parts for their marble set, but I am not sure what else would help.

This school does have special needs kids but I haven't talked to them yet. If I take suggestions to the teachers and the principal I think they will be more receptive.

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.

I love this! Do you have a blog of this journey?? Would be great to make one and follow along over the years, then let him take over! Edit - found your site in your bio profile http://www.watersideworkshop.com

My son was using Tinkercad since he was 6yrs old and I would print his creations. You could also make clay or playdough models with them and scan them using the digitizer or other less expensive 3d Scanners. We use a Kinect Scanner with Skanect software and it works pretty well and is very inexpensive. Scanning is hard for young hands though. I am looking at the atlas scanner http://www.filastruder.com/collections/atlas-3d as an alternative. If they use minecraft you can also build "things" in minecraft and bring them into Tinkercad. It is actually pretty easy and the kids can print their minecraft creations. I have known preschoolers to be proficient at minecraft.

a printer from xyz printing, " da vinci 1.0 ai0 " has inbuilt scanner in it. scanning resolution is not that great though. but for educational use and many other work 250 microns is good enough.

There are cubes you can print to help then understand volume or calculating. You can also create a lot of toy's and if they eat them it shouldn't be a problem becouse PLA plastic is made from plastic. (don't quote me on that, I am not responsable if anything does hapen)

PLA. Plant based from corn I want to say.

While you haven't talked that much about what they need, here are some links to things that might help. (However some might be for higher levels than pre-school.) (Also, I realize that most of these things you could find yourself; I just thought it'd help you save time if a lot of the good things that are buried under the bad things were here for you.)

Math Spinner Toy - http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:185125
Deluxe Math Spinner Toy - http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:501060
Pythagorean Theorem explanation - http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:245202
Math Gears - http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:185912
Math Stacking Toy - http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:183897
A Jump Rope - http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:372103
A Pencil Shelf - http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:452177
Pencil Toolbox/Pencil Case - http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:149290
Pencil Holder - http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:149540
Boxes Collection - http://www.thingiverse.com/maot1985/collections/boxes
Organizers Collection - http://www.thingiverse.com/zwolfy/collections/organizer

Math Spinner Toy
Deluxe Math Spinner
Pythagorean Theorem
Math Gear(s)
Math Stacks - Stackable Weight Set
The Jump Rope
Pencil Shelf
by Tosh
The School Tool Box
Back To School Challenge

Oh wow thank you! Some of these are a bit advanced for pre school but I did just find out there are small advanced groups that start up after the holidays for the kids that are preparing for kindergarten and need more challenges in the classroom. I wish there was a phonics thing I could print - I know there are a lot of kids this year that are getting ready to start reading, some have the potential to start kindergarten at a first grade reading level...

I also know there are a few weird, almost backwards rules about what the kids can and can not use in the classroom, like coloring books, and jump ropes. I don't get it, but I will save them for later. A few of the parents have started to listen in to my conversations with the teachers.

It's the start of a list I can show them, and anything helps; for pete's sake one of the kid's special needs equipment is held together with duct tape! I'm sure with a 3D printer (and my sewing machine) we can make a difference there :D

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You can also browse the challenges section of the website and look at the math challenge winners.


The math spinners are really great. I made a few for our learning support class in my school. Super nice project that really help the kids learn basic math applications.

First things first. Are you printing things just to give them printed things? Perhaps you should ask them what the content area is focused on so that you might be able to provide elements that support the learning model they already have in place. To just print things because you can seems like a waste of both your time and theirs as well. Making manipulatives like puzzle would be a good thing but only of they align with what they are teaching.

I would like to print things they can use. As I said this school is grant funded and the grant has been getting smaller and smaller every year. What the grant can't or won't pay for there is a booster club to help. Honestly I'm not the type of person to help with boosters, I'd rather directly help the teachers.
I'd laugh if something like this ---\/ came home, laugh and probably donate. http://a.abcnews.go.com/images/Lifestyle/ht_pta_alternative_fundraising_letter_jc_150828_12x5_1600.jpg

The marble tower pieces were just a suggestion; something I had spotted on here and I knew the school used on a regular basis.

To print those you would probably have to get a set of the parts they use and measure them up in order to have parts that integrate nicely. Talk to them. See what needs the teachers have. 3D printing may not be the way to support/enhance this situation. They may need other things that your skill set will help out with in the end.

I have a piece to make sure the scale is right and one of the marbles they use. I know I can help with other skills sometimes I just get frustrated trying to figure out how best to help. Pre-school can be difficult to figure out. I could just point a few of them to this site and have them order things they could use. Would that help?

If you feel that they really want 3D printed stuff then I say go for it. Does the school have a printer?

No, I gave several teachers the website today, to start looking for things they may need, and ran into another weird rule. There are two organizations that operate out of the school. The head start group can not accept anything unless they get it from their main office in another city (BOO!). So unless approval comes from the higher-ups then they will not request anything. The main pre-school group is not restricted like this however (well with the exceptions like coloring books and such). My oldest's teacher said she would take a look at Thingiverse to see if she finds anything for upcoming sections.
in the meantime she requested a worm for the current lesson. Soon the kids will bringing the class "worm" pet home for the night and report about what they did. You can bet I was glad to hear the worm coming home wasn't real...

More to follow...

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