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Christmas gift ideas from your ATA library

December 5, 2017 Sandra Anderson, ATA Librarian

Library staff often see interesting products as we work to build our makerspace collection. We want to share with you some of our discoveries that really engage imaginations and that would make great Christmas presents this year.

3Doodler CREATE is a pen that works like a 3D printer and allows you to create dimension drawings using plastic as an “ink.” For older children and adults, the pen can be had for $120. 

3Doodler Start is a child-safe version of the pen that is available for $70.

Bloxels are a great tool for physically and digitally creating video games. Builders use 320 blocks to create characters, objects and backgrounds that they photograph and upload to the free app. The price is about $50.

Stikbot Zanimation Studio is a wonderfully inexpensive stop animation kit that comes with three posable figures, a green screen background and props, and a tripod for a smartphone. The free app allows users to seamlessly insert any background into the green screen portion of the photos. You can find this kit for only $25.

Google Cardboard is a fun 3D headset that will remind us of the stereoscopes many of us used as children. This item requires a smartphone or a newer iPod, to which users can download dozens of free apps. The demo app allows users to tour world capitals, visit museums and explore the Arctic. Our staff tried this headset and were amazed at how quickly an hour went by! Great for any age. There are many manufacturers for these headsets and prices range from $10 to $40. 

MakeDo Cardboard Construction is one of our favourite kits for stimulating the imagination. It’s a simple set of plastic screws with a screwdriver and a childproof plastic saw. Children can put together cardboard in entirely new ways to make amazing cardboard objects. Start saving those cardboard boxes now if you plan to buy this kit! Sets start at $18.

Makey Makey is a circuit board that can make almost anything into a keyboard you can attach to your computer. Want to play piano on a bunch of bananas? You can do that! Want to make a workable game controller out of playdough? You can do that too! Standard kits sell for $60.

Ozobot Bits are little robots that will follow lines drawn with thick markers. Children can learn the concepts of coding by making the robots do tricks when putting dots of certain colours into their lines.  More advanced programming can be done with Blockly software. A single robot is $65; a set of two is $120. 

Snap Circuits Kits come with sturdy components that are used to create all kinds of electronic devices that can survive quite a bit of rough play. Instruction booklets provide directions for dozens or even hundreds of different projects (depending on the kit). Kits range from $35 to $120. ❚

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