5 Reasons Why You Should Raise a Wimpy Kid

The story of Greg Heffley’s struggles has inspired millions, and it all started with a diary.

Research shows that active storytelling and creativity has long-lasting impacts on children’s development that carry on well into adulthood, meaning the stories they tell now can have a positive impact on shaping the adults they’ll eventually become.

Does your kid have what it takes to be a Wimpy Kid with great storytelling? Here’s why you should help them get there:

  • 1. Wimpy Kids Solve Problems

    Storytelling and engaging in creative fiction also helps children develop problem-solving skills for real-life situations. What happens in their stories may not be true, but by working through fictional problems kids’ brains learn to apply the same thought process to obstacles they may face in their day-to-day life.
  • 2. Wimpy Kids Get Along Better

    Children who engage in fiction—either from reading, writing, or having stories read to them—find it easier to understand other people. This helps them form better social connections earlier in life.
  • 3. Wimpy Kids Show Empathy

    By engaging with the reactions of characters in stories, kids develop the ability to grasp the thoughts and feelings of others. This means even outside of stories, kids can learn how to show empathy for those around them, whether on the playground or in the classroom.
  • 4. Wimpy Kids Create

    Aside from writing and making up new stories, creating tangible characters that kids can move and see interacting enhances stories for kids, and helps stimulate learning, engagement, and brain activity even more.
  • 5. Wimpy Kids Play

    Creating characters and writing their own storylines gives kids a head start for wide range of artistic pursuits, which plays a big part in being a well-rounded student (you can read more about how art plays a role in academics here). Kids can apply the thinking and engagement they get from storytelling to theater, movie-making, writing, or other art forms.

For a limited time, you can get a free 3D Diary inspired by Diary of a Wimpy Kid along with a free pack of 3Doodler Start Plastic with every purchase of a 3Doodler Start Essentials or Super Mega Pen Set and give your kids a guided way to help inspire them to create and tell their own stories, while creating touchable and permanent characters that they can use for endless future story combinations.

The Best Creative Toys for Summer 2017

School’s out for summer, but that doesn’t mean learning and creativity has to stop!

It’s no secret that 3Doodler is a big fan of tactile learning and imaginative play. And we’re not the only ones—the toy trends for 2017 show a strong focus on STEM and STEAM, promoting creativity and making education and discovery more fun.

Now that summer has finally arrived, here’s our recommendations for the top 11 toys to help kids continue to learn, explore, and create all summer long:

  • Get Your Move On

    Summer is the time for kids to seize the opportunity to get out of their classrooms and get their bodies moving with some outdoor play. Combining engineering and technical exploration with movement is a great way to do that! That’s the idea behind the Mover Kit from Technology Will Save Us. Kids build their own mover wristband, and then custom program it to react to all kinds of movements with different flashing lights. Kids can come up with new games and sequences to program into their movers to keep them engaged all summer long.
  • Take It Outside

    For kids who like to build and create, Flybrix lets you make your own drone using LEGO bricks. Kids can explore the different intricacies of drone flight with these kits designed for trial and error. Once completed, they can take their creations to the skies and see their creativity in action! Perfect for kids looking to jump start their career as a drone operator.
  • Tiny Tech, Endless Exploration

    When it comes to tiny tech, it doesn’t get much smaller (or cuter!) than the Ozobot. This pocket-sized robot comes to life with easy-to-use color codes that kids can draw.  There are also printable games and interactive missions and adventures through an app. The interface teaches kids the basics of coding and programming through fun, engaging games.
  • Lights, camera, action!

    For kids with a story to tell, there are several creative options which let them take the director’s seat for their own animations! StikBot Zanimation Studio helps kids create their own videos with creative characters and stories of their own design. Even in small spaces, kids can create scenes as boundless as their imaginations!
  • Light It Up

    Creating circuits is now as easy as drawing with the Circuit Scribe conducive ink pen. The included magnetic modules snap onto the circuits kids draw. Make simple or complex circuits or get creative and add lights, motion, or sound to your drawings!
  • Flex Your Imagination

    Bend, zip, connect, and snap to bring your imagination to life with Magnaflex. In these connectable kits, magnetic pieces connect in creative construction kits to help kids create everything from animals and vehicles to wearable accessories.
  • Be a Mini Mad Scientist

    Encourage your inner mad scientist with innovative tech toys that get kids looking at engineering in a completely new way. Turn a banana into a piano, or your favorite candy into a game controller with Makey Makey. The small circuit board can connect your computer with anything you can think of. With different apps and customizable programs, you can create your own drum kit with your leftovers from lunch, making learning about circuits and connectivity engaging and fun!
  • Creativity is a snap!

    Ready to ramp up your robotics, create your own connected devices, or take your engineering to the next level? The connecting blocks from littleBits offer 60 modules for combo creation, so kids can make their own gadgets to suit any purpose. Different kits let kids focus on smart home solutions, programming moving vehicles, and making music through tech. With tons of combinations, kids can explore how they can use technology in any setting.
  • Build It Your Way

    For budding architects who want to bring their fantasy house designs to life, Arckit lets you design, plan, and construct your own detailed building models. These free-form model kits let kids physically explore their design ideas and create realistic houses and building structures.
  • Turn Can't into Kano

    Create and code your own computer from scratch, build your own speaker, or construct a working camera. With the computer and coding kits from Kano, kids get hands-on experience on building, connecting, and coding as an easy and fun introduction to computer programming.
  • Do More With Doodles

    Of course, no toy list that focuses on tactile tech and creativity would be complete without our own 3Doodler. Our new 3Doodler Start Themed Kits let kids explore robotics, product design, and architecture while their imaginations are at their prime! For teenagers, the 3Doodler Create has endless possibilities for creative projects.

Looking to use this guide as a handy reference? Get the full guide as a PDF here.

3Doodler x DonorsChoose.org: The Only Limit is Their Imagination

Late last year, a group of teachers in the US each got their DonorsChoose.org projects fully funded, thanks to a matching offer from 3Doodler. As a result, students in classrooms across the country got their hands on 3Doodler Start pens, and were able to unleash creativity in the classroom like never before.

In the second of our DonorsChoose.org teacher profiles, we take a look at two more educators, Patricia Dennis-McClung of Sonora Middle School in Springdale, Arkansas, and Christy Marta of Aspen Ridge School in Ishpeming, Michigan.

Ask Patricia Dennis-McClung what it is that motivates her as a teacher, and she’ll tell you that it’s the ‘aha’ moments on her students’ faces. “It’s seeing their faces light up,” she says, when they finally grasp a concept, or when they make that crucial connection from A to B. Throw the same question to Christy Marta, and she’d agree and say that her students push her to be a better person and a better teacher. “They are an inspiration to others even if they don’t know it yet.”

Sonora Middle School has a very diverse make-up, with about half of the students identifying as Hispanic and 15% as Marshallese. “Springdale has the largest Marshallese population outside of the Marshall islands.” Over 52% of students meet the low-income criteria, and 78% of the students enrolled at Sonora Middle School receive free or reduced lunch – “and that’s those that have filled out the paperwork and qualified,” Patricia adds, as many of the parents simply don’t know how.

Aspen Ridge School is, Christy says, a rural school in a remote community. “We have a large preschool-8th-grade population, and with the cost of basic supplies, curriculum materials, and intervention programs, it’s sometimes difficult to meet all current needs.” One of her main priorities is ensuring that her students leave her classroom with a lifelong love of learning. Key to that is having access to proper materials, like the 3Doodler Start EDU bundle successfully funded late last year.

Much like Blair and Connie, Christy and Patricia both came across 3Doodler via DonorsChoose.org. Patricia had wanted for some time to incorporate 3D printing pens into her 3D design classes, and when she saw the matching offer made by 3Doodler, she knew that they would be perfect for the gifted and talented program at her school.

"The pens have turned an everyday assignment into something amazing." Share

“3D printing is something that a lot of these kids are going to be working with in the future,” she says. “And that’s something that I don’t think people have really thought about at the moment.” The 3Doodler Create Half EDU bundle that they received earlier this year has given her students an opportunity to have a hands-on experience with technology that already shapes the way the world works – from Hershey’s Kisses to homes that have been printed entirely with 3D tech. “It’s just insane the way technology is moving, so I think that it’s important for kids to have exposure to it.”

For Christy, the reasons for choosing 3Doodler were a little simpler – after discovering the Match Offer, she did a little research on 3Doodler and what the pens could do, she realised that they would be ideal for use in her classes.

“I looked into them,” she says, “And loved what I saw. I thought I could use them to help my students visualise shapes in their actual 3D forms in math, make models of plants, cells and planets in science, and write stories and create characters through 3D modeling in language arts. I saw the students being able to bring their ideas to life, and I thought it would add fun and excitement to the curriculum.” It has, Christy adds, gone beyond that – her students absolutely love using the pens. The pens have “turned an everyday assignment into something amazing,” and her students have come up with any number of ways in which to use the pens, which they beg to be able to use every day.

"I’m always just shocked by the people that I don’t know that donate. It shows how important something like DonorsChoose.org is." Share

It’s clear that this enthusiasm for the pens is shared by Patricia’s students too. “They love them,” she says. “When they see them laid out, they get really excited. The first time we used them, it was in a 45 minute class, and I was just so impressed that they did so much better than I did.” Patricia’s students went from using the pens to weld 3D printed pieces together, to using them to create small-scale models of things they’d create on a 3D printer. “There will be more ways for the students to use the pens than what I’d initially anticipated. I’m going to be creating a makerspace so that more students from the school can use them. I want to be able to provide an opportunity for more students to use them than just my class.”

Both Christy and Patricia have said that the pens, and the use of tactile technology, have been very easily incorporated into their classroom work. “They’re a great motivator for kids,” Christy says, “and are an effective teaching tool. Students are allowed free time to use the pens after all their work is complete, and it has been very effective.” Her students are always thrilled to be able to use them, and whatever they create is only ever limited by their own imagination.

Unlike Blair and Connie, both Patricia and Christy shared their DonorsChoose.org projects openly with their students – Christy’s students are in fact begging her to do another project to get more pens or more of the plastic refills. When it came to getting their projects heard, neither educator did all that much, other than post about it on social media. “Since we do have such an impoverished community, [the children and their parents] were not able to donate to it,” Patricia explains. “I have a classroom Instagram page so I put it on there, and I put it on Facebook too. I’m always just shocked by the people that I don’t know that donate. It shows how important something like DonorsChoose.org is.” Christy also shared her project on Facebook, and adds that this project had been fully funded by two donors. “Normally I’d have parents or companies to thank, but both of the donations were anonymous.”

As much fun as the students have been having with the pens (and both educators have plenty to say on that topic!), for Patricia it’s all about what they’ll take away from the experience of using them. “Are they fun? Absolutely,” she says, “but hopefully it’ll allow them to see things differently.” Tactile technology, and the benefits of hands-on learning with the pens can already be felt, mere months into use for both teachers. “I think they’re a bit more cooperative. There’s always someone that’s willing to jump in and help out another student, or they’ll swap pens and say ‘here, use mine and I’ll fix yours’.”

The possibilities are endless, agrees Christy, and it’s thanks to platforms like DonorsChoose.org, which has allowed educators access to materials previously inaccessible to them. “Every day, the students demonstrate that they are critical thinkers, leaders, dreamers, hard workers, and amazing little people.”

Looking for more ways to bring 3Doodler into your classroom?
Check out our dedicated EDU section for classroom tips, lesson plans, and exclusive EDU bundles for educators.

3Doodler x DonorsChoose.org: What They Are Creating

Late last year, a group of teachers in the US each got their DonorsChoose.org projects fully funded, thanks to a matching offer from 3Doodler. As a result, students in classrooms across the country got their hands on 3Doodler Start pens, and were able to unleash creativity in the classroom like never before.

In the first of our DonorsChoose.org teacher profiles, we shine a light on two of these teachers, Blair Mishleau of Washington DC’s Kipp DC: Heights Academy, and Connie Bagley of Crockett Elementary School in San Marco, Texas.

Students at Kipp DC: Heights Academy get first-hand experience with the 3Doodler Start

This wasn’t Blair Mishleau’s first DonorsChoose.org rodeo—the Washington DC-based teacher is a veteran of the crowdfunding website for educators, having raised more than $20,000, and with more than nine projects under his belt.

“I want to provide my kids with choice and voice,” he says. His school is a public charter school in Washington DC in one of the most historically underserved neighbourhoods of the state. The school has 450 students, and 99% of them are African American. Of that number, 90% qualify for free or reduced-price lunches—a pretty useful measure, Blair adds, of the socioeconomic statuses of the families of the students.

"The students could write with them, and then actually feel the shape of the letters." Share

Connie Bagley, a dyslexia reading specialist, has approximately 650 students at her school from Kindergarten through 5th grade. Over 75% of the students there are economically disadvantaged. It is student success that motivates Connie as a teacher—every day she works with dyslexic learners that advance best when taught through visual, auditory, and tactile/kinesthetic methods.

Connie Bagley's students make letters you can touch

“Seeing students learn to read, then read to learn is what makes this job rewarding.” That’s why Connie decided that the 3Doodler Start pens would be great for her students. “My first thought was that these would be perfect for multisensory instruction. My students learn best with a VAKT program: visual, auditory, tactile/kinesthetic.” The 3Doodler pens, would be very effective at fulfilling the tactile portion of the program. “The students could write with them, and then actually feel the shape of the letters.”

Both Connie and Blair came across 3Doodler in the same way—via emails from DonorsChoose.org that told them about a matching offer with 3Doodler. Any donations made by the public would be matched by 3Doodler, ensuring that the project would be fulfilled in half the time (or as quickly as possible!). That’s why, Blair says, websites like DonorsChoose.org are so important to his students, as it opens up access to tools for disadvantaged kids that they simply wouldn’t have otherwise.

Late last year, Blair’s project requesting a 3Doodler Start EDU Bundle for his technology classes was fully funded. The pens have been utilised in his 1st and 4th grade technology classes, which focus on tech literacy, computer programming, keyboarding, and “pretty much anything else that would be helpful in providing access and opportunity around technology”. And they have, for the most part, lived up to expectations.

"No kid has said ‘I can’t figure this out,’ or ‘I give up,’ with the pens. I can’t think of a tool that I’ve used where that’s been the case." Share

“I often find that a lot of tech projects are a lot more sexier and user friendly in videos and photos compared to when you actually get them, but once I got the pens, I realized how sturdy they were, and how easy they are to use.” Each one of his classes only gets to use the 3Doodler pens once a week, but they’ve already quickly adapted to using them. “No kid has said ‘I can’t figure this out,’ or ‘I give up,’ with the pens. I can’t think of a tool that I’ve used where that’s been the case.”

Students in Blair Mishleau’s class cooperate to create

Connie has found equal enthusiasm in her classes for her 3Doodler Start EDU bundle. “The students are begging to use them,” she says, although they’re still getting used to them for now. Connie’s students are taking full advantage of other objects around them, using small paper cups as bases to create things like rocket ships and towers, with stars and other shapes as decorations. Connie also plans to share her pens with fellow teachers who do lessons on architecture.

One thing that Blair has noticed is that his students have worked as a team much better than he would have thought they would using the pens. “I don’t have enough pens for everyone—just one per two children—but I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how kind they are. Not only do they work in groups, but I’ll see students—when it’s not technically their turn to use the pens—helping others.” Not only have his students been working better together, Blair has also found that they have been taking creative steps without his input—with some children building geometric shapes before he had even introduced them as a concept.

Both Connie and Blair chose not to tell their students about their DonorsChoose.org projects, as they did not want to have to disappoint them if they weren’t funded. “My students did not even know I had submitted a project,” said Connie. Blair did the same as he felt it was better to under-promise and over-deliver.

"I don’t have enough pens for everyone, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how kind they are. I’ll see students—when it’s not technically their turn to use the pens—helping others." Share

They needn’t have worried: although neither did much self-promotion to push their projects forward, anonymous donors from across the country were still willing to contribute to their cause. “Someone called Jacob donated, and I literally have no idea who it is,” Blair said, adding that someone else from the District of Columbia donated with a gift card. “Most of these people are people I don’t know.” Connie has had a similar experience—one of her donors left a comment saying that she was also a special education teacher and that she understood the need for something like 3Doodler in the classroom.

All in all, for Connie and Blair the 3Doodler pens have gotten off to a great start in their classrooms, an achievement that wouldn’t have been possible without incredible platforms like DonorsChoose.org, their vision for including innovative new tools in their schools, and the unwavering support of all the project donors out there.

Looking for more ways to bring 3Doodler into your classroom?
Check out our dedicated EDU section for classroom tips, lesson plans, and exclusive EDU bundles for educators.

10 Things to Love About the 3Doodler Start

Introducing the 3Doodler Start, the world’s first truly kid-safe 3D printing pen! We love the newest addition to the 3Doodler family. Simple to use, the 3Doodler Start makes creating easy, engaging, and fun! Here’s 10 reasons why we think you’ll love the Start too…

1. Totally Touchable

The 3Doodler Start has no exposed hot parts, which means no risks of burnt fingers! Not only that, our amazing Eco-Plastic melts at super low temperatures, so it comes out of the pen at a totally touchable temperature.

2. Wonderfully Wireless

With the 3Doodler Start, you can Doodle anywhere, anytime! Charge it up and get 45-60 minutes of Doodle-tastic wireless use.

3. Ready to Reboot

Make your old toys last longer with Doodled repairs made with the 3Doodler Start. Doodle a new head or costume for an action figure, a ramp for toy cars to jump, or create entire scenes and accessories for imaginative fun!

4. Helpfully Hands-on

The 3Doodler Start’s incredible Eco-Plastic is easy to mold and shape before it hardens into a permanent form. Get your Doodles looking exactly how you want them by fine tuning with your fingertips!

5. Without Waste

Our Eco-Plastic is entirely environmentally friendly (hence the name!) and will decompose in your back yard or in any household compost! Mother Earth, you’re welcome!

6. So, So Simple

The 3Doodler Start has one temperature, one speed setting, and one button. Simply turn it on, insert a strand, and start Doodling!

7. Engaging Education

With the hands-on help of the 3Doodler Start, kids can develop the skills needed for design, planning, building, and spatial understanding!

8. DoodleBlocks for Building

Kids will love using the new 3Doodler Start DoodleBlocks to create beautiful, accurate Doodles across a range of themes.

9. Extending Exploration

One plastic strand of our Eco-Plastic can make Doodles up to 10 times its original length. How many Doodles can you make?

10. Undeniably Unique

In case you missed it, the 3Doodler Start is the first 3D printing pen that’s truly safe for kids aged 8+.

The 3Doodler Start is available now from our online store along with a full range of DoodleBlock kits, accessories and Eco-Plastics.

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