3-12, Creative Thinking, Science

Gifts for the Gifted – Rob Ives Paper Automata

Several years ago, I thought I would help out the parents of my gifted and talented students by writing about some games, toys, or books that I thought might make good purchases during the holiday season.  I called the series of posts, “Gifts for the Gifted,” and I have continued to do it annually (except for 2019) every November and December.  These gifts are suggestions for any child – not just those who qualify for a GT program. Sometimes I receive a free product for review, but I am not paid for these posts, and I never recommend a product that I wouldn’t buy for my own child.  For past “Gifts for the Gifted” posts, including my ongoing 2022 list, you can visit this page. I also have a Pinterest Board of Games and Toys for Gifted Students and one for Books for Gifted Children or Anyone who Loves to Learn.

So, if you landed on this post in 2022, there are technically two more shopping days until Christmas, 2022. Your options for shipping something in time have grown astronomically risky and/or pricey. And fighting the crowds at a shopping mall holds little interest for you. Maybe you saw yesterday’s post on subscription ideas, but perhaps none of those seemed to fit the bill for the child you have in mind. So, you decided to take your chances by waiting for my last Gifts for the Gifted post of 2022 to be published, hoping this will be the perfect idea.

If you have a decent printer at home, a good supply of cardstock or printer paper, adequate ink, and a few dollars, I just might have an idea for you.

Rob Ives is a paper engineer who has published quite a few books and has a website. His website has tons of projects that you can download and make, including origami and paper automata, which are paper models with moving parts. You could, of course, order one of his cool books. But if you’re worried about getting a gift on time, you might want to purchase one of his downloads for a few dollars instead.

Paying members of the site can download projects for free. (Be sure the currency matches your country by going to the top right of the web page.) Or, you can pay per project that you download. I found a perfect Christmas one that cost me $3.50 for the PDF. It’s the “Hopping Reindeer.” All you need to do is download and print the PDF, and follow the instructions on the “Hopping Reinder” page to make your own festive automata that hop up and down as you turn the paper crank.

Rob Ives Hopping Reindeer Project

Children delight in making these, and it’s definitely an opportunity to bond, as well as to learn about simple machines and physics. There are plenty of other paper-only projects on the site, or you can check out the ones that just need a few other household supplies.

Some other places you can download paper automata (some of them free, but I haven’t vetted them all so be cautious!) are: Canon, Brother, Kamibox, Karakuri Workshop on Etsy, and Mike and Lace.

Have a great time, and see if you can design some of your own!

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