Teaching kids to code has become the trendy parental priority du jour — the Zuckerbergs of the world tend to refer to it as, “Building awesome stuff.” That’s undeniably important, but you grew up in an era when that meant digging a sweet hole with a stick. For you, building is something that’s done with your hands and raw materials, and there’s going to be a place for that in the future, too. This list combines the best of both worlds. They’re apps, so your kid still gets to play in their digital sandbox, but they teach kids the art of DIY, so maybe they’ll build themselves a real-life one. Or at the very least push some dirt around.
DIY invites kids to be part of a community of makers by completing challenges to earn badges in hundreds of skills ranging from “Minecrafter” to “Writer” to “Oceanographer” to … “Yeti.” They now also offer 4-week virtual camps led by expert instructors. The only thing it doesn’t do is actually get your kid out of the house for the summer.
No need to pony up for a 3D printer when your kid can create 3D figures right from your iPad for a cool 4 bucks. As you color, stamp, or upload photos to templates, a 3D preview displays in real time. Print directly via AirPrint or email PDF, then cut, fold, and proudly display. Just make sure they don’t try to color on the touchscreen.
Even if you don’t order their activity kits, Kiwi Crate will still deliver you project inspiration to help your child turn household objects into cool art, craft, and science projects. Their app offers a new DIY idea each day, plus searchable, curated lists of thousands more. Because all your kid will come up with is turning the dog into a canvas, and nobody wants that. Especially Fido.
Free (iOs) (Android)
InstructablesIf you can dream up a project, someone handier than you has already completed it, took it apart, built a better version, and laid out a detailed, step-by-step tutorial with photos on Instructables so you can (finally) do it, too. Seriously, anything. Think of it as the bizarro Pinterest, where mostly men share project ideas that actually get built.
Free (iOs) (Android)
Peppa’s Activity MakerIf your kid just can’t get enough Peppa Pig in their life (because you certainly can’t!), she’s got 32 activities you can do together on a rainy day. Right after that delicious breakfast of bacon and eggs you’re whipping up.
These seasonal companion apps follow the daily inspiration found in Sarah Goldschadt’s book by the same name … and are pretty much exactly what the title implies. Each week has a different theme and every daily project includes artful illustrations, instructions, downloadable patterns, and links to supplies. There’s a new app for every season, except for residents of California.
DK Kids’ CraftsThis app follows in the footsteps of the popular DK activity books, only it gives kids the option to either follow instructions for offline craft building or do the digital version of sewing, drawing, and more. That sounds like a bit of a cop-out until you remember that it’s impossible to prick your finger (and thusly devolve into hysterics) on a touchscreen.