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Here's where you'll find all the latest news about technology for children. We love to follow cool new inventions on Kickstarter and we hunt out all the latest announcements about tech toys and gadgets for the coming Christmas holidays. You'll also get our take on children's technology stories in the media.

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Our kids technology product reviews are intended to help you work out whether a toy, gadget or kit is a good fit for your child or family. There's lots of cool stuff available, but is it the right choice for the child or teenager that you are buying for? We'll help you make the right choices and get the best value for money.

GIFT GUIDES$show=/search/label/gift%20guide

Parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and friends assemble. We create gift lists to help you make good choices for kids technology which helps them develop the right skills for the future. We research the best in Coding Toys and Games, Making / Craft Tools and Kits, STEM/STEAM related gifts, Programmable Robots, Electronics Kits and Gadgets for Tech Age Kids and Teens.

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Get crafty with technology. Here we'll post all our ideas and projects using technology to get creative and making with kids. You'll find anything from making a lemon battery to a glow-in-the-dark Minecraft sword. Our projects are tried and tested on our own kids or at events we run, so we are sure you can have a go at home with your kids. Some of our projects use specific tech gadgets which we provide links for you to purchase.

STEM$show=/search/label/stem

STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. In recent years there is an increased focus in these areas of study. We like to include Art and Design too, so we often talk about STEAM (A stands for Art). At Tech Age Kids we believe Coding is a new literacy and children need to understand how technology works, practice making skills and grow in their curiosity to make a better future for us all.

CODING$show=/search/label/coding

Coding is increasingly being recognised as an important skill for children to learn. Some will learn to code at school or at a coding club, but it's brilliant if they get support at home too.

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We think it's really important for kids to get hands-on with electronics and learn how to make circuits and write code to control hardware. Younger kids can start with conductive playdough. For kids who like to combine craft and tech, littleBits are fab. And we love SAM Labs wireless electronics components for making it easy for kids to make Internet of Things inventions. Lots of electronics kits for kids have support for the Arduino microprocessor environment. The DuinoKit Jr is one of our favourites. Arduino is a fab skill for older kids and teens to develop.

ROBOTICS$show=/search/label/robotics

We love robots at Tech Age Kids, especially programmable ones. We've got lots of them and write reviews and projects that use them. Our programmable robots for kids buying guide is a good place to start if you're not sure what's available. Roby the mBot Meccano robot dog is one of our popular projects and has been with us to lots of events. Our Ozobot LEGO trailer is fab for kids who love LEGO and robots.

MAKING AND CRAFT$show=/search/label/making

We're advocates of the creative use of technology, but this needs to be balanced with developing physical skills such as papercraft, woodwork, clay modelling, technical drawing and soldering. If children don't develop these skills as they grow up then physical making projects can become frustrating rather than fun. The Maker Community uses the term 'making' as a broad term to include all sorts of artisan skills or craft activities. Being able to make things can lead to life-long hobbies or even careers. It's a great feeling to be able to take a project from an idea in your head to a real object that does something. We're particularly interested to explore products that combine maker skills with tech skills such as electronics but others focus purely on the physical making skills that are still important to modern making.

Homemade Christmas Jumper with the micro:bit


Last week was Christmas jumper day at my kids' school and I tried to be organised this year and get the boys proper Christmas jumpers. I found a great one with flashing lights and a tune for my 9-year old but my youngest doesn't like the feeling of knitted fabric. I couldn't find anything that he liked or would be happy to wear.

We decided we'll have a go at making a homemade Christmas jumper using some of our maker tools. In this post, we'll share how we made our jumper and maybe you can have a go at creating one too!


What you will need?

  1. A plain jumper

    My son likes hooded zipped jumpers. I found a plain grey one from our local superstore.
  2. Sparkly Vinyl and Craft Cutter

    I bought sheets of iron-on vinyl in a variety of colours. We used our Silhouette Cameo 3 craft cutter to cut out the designs from the vinyl.
  3. A micro:bit and Mi:Power board

    My son also wanted a jumper that could flash and play a tune. We've recently been working lots with the micro:bit so felt confident to have a go at coding something with it for his jumper. The Mi:Power board provides the power and a buzzer for the sound in one compact unit.
  4. A piece of felt

    We used some felt to cut a pocket to house the micro:bit on the jumper. I used my sewing machine to sew the pocket to the jumper, but you could easily do it by hand-stitching too.

Decorate the Jumper


My son and I spent an evening designing his jumper. He decided he wanted the word "#SANTA" on the back with a santa hat on the "S". He wanted stars of different sizes on one side of the front that wrapped around to the back. The pocket for the micro:bit needed to be added to the other side on the front.



The Silhouette Cameo comes with basic software, which we used to create the shapes and word to cut with the craft cutter. Thankfully we remembered that we need to flip everything mirror image before cutting! We used three different colours, so carefully positioned the shapes for each colour on our design to reduce wastage of the vinyl.



Once you're ready, add the vinyl sheet to the cutting mat and send the design to the cutter. The Silhoutte Cameo 3 works out the required depth of the blade automatically, which made the whole process much more simple and fast.


After cutting all three colours we positioned our sparkly vinyl pieces on the jumper and ironed it on! So simple.

Coding the Jumper

My 9-year old has a Christmas Carol piano sheet music book which we used to find the music for "Jingle Bells". He actually helped us to code the music using the MakeCode block editor for the micro:bit.



My youngest then created the animation for the flashing star. He wanted the music to start playing when he pressed button A and wanted the flashing to be on all the time!


We attached a Mi:Power board (available from Kitronik) to power our micro:bit. The board also has a built-in buzzer which played the tune we programmed. The Mi:Power board uses a coin cell battery and has a power switch. My son had the micro:bit on all day at school and it's still going strong.


Pocket for the micro:bit

I helped to make the pocket for the micro:bit. I cut a pocket shape out of the felt and then cut holes for the micro:bit buttons. We decided not to cut a hole for the LED display, as the lights shone nicely through the felt.

I pinned the felt to the jumper, with the micro:bit inside to ensure a snug fit. I added a couple snap fasteners in the opening to make sure the micro:bit doesn't fall out of the pocket when my son wears it at school.

Cut shape out of felt

Cut holes for the micro:bit buttons

Pin pocket to jumper with micro:bit inside

Hand sew pocket in place to prevent movement when stitching

Sew using a sewing machine

Verdict

It was a brilliant experience making this jumper with my son. We learnt lots of new skills and now definitely keen to make more of our own personalised jumpers and T-Shirts using the iron-on vinyl and the craft cutter.

It was great to add tech to the jumper using skills we've recently learnt. My son was really proud to wear something he had made himself.

I think next time, I'll make the pocket out of cotton material, as the felt doesn't look like it will last as long as the rest of the jumper.



Name

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Tech Age Kids | Technology for Children: Homemade Christmas Jumper with the micro:bit
Homemade Christmas Jumper with the micro:bit
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