Origami furniture patterns for kids

Origami is trending (for example this robot), and it’s a great way to introduce engineering to kids. We’ve already reported on kid-friendly DIY origami greeting cards. Our upcoming book, Bicycles, Airships and Things that Go, features an origami kayak inspired by Oru.


Now there’s DIY cardboard kid furniture from Swiss architect Nicola Enrico Stäubli’s FoldSchool (via Inhabitat). The website offers downloadable patterns allowing you and your kids to create a stool, rocker, or chair. Let us know how you get on!

Engineering your own doll’s house

Writing for IEEE (“I triple E”), Tekla Perry mentions a couple of toys aimed at introducing kids to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Worth listening to since few organizations are more serious about energy and electronics than the Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers.

Roominate wants girls to be artists, architects and engineers…

First, Roominate is a kit that lets kids design and build a wired doll’s house. The wiring enables lights, fans, and sounds (doorbell). Kids can build furniture too, and there are even dolls to live in the house. I hope they add some solar panels and maybe even let the “fan” double as a simulated “wind turbine.” Oh, and what about rain barrels, roof gardens, and other sustainable touches?

Inspecting the current flow using the Light Up app.

Second is Light Up, a kit of magnetically connectable circuit board components, not unlike Littlebits (which we wrote about before in a post on 8 tech learning toys and games). One difference is that Light Up also has an app that uses the camera to analyze your construction and show current flow or help you troubleshoot. The lightup blog offers projects ideas and instructions to follow.

Have any good toys to add to the list? Have you tried either of these toys? Tell us in the comments. If you find these posts useful sign up for our newsletter.



What’s your Decarbonizer?

I read about a new report on “deep decarbonization,” describing top priorities for reducing carbon emissions to the atmosphere.

In some ways it’s a ridiculous title. But Decarbonizer sounds kinda cool, like a secret weapon or some sort of superhero.

I like the fact that we can all have decarbonizers –maybe some secret—in our lives.  Here are few of my personal decarbonizers:

THE SIDEWALK! (or “Pavement” as they say in British English)

Since I do most grocery shopping by foot, this TROLLEY is also one of my key decarbonizers, I don’t care if people think I look like a grandma, although this was one of the most stylish and large-wheeled I could find…



Another big Decarbonizer  in our household is this CHANA DAL and other legumes that we eat instead of meat. Reducing the amount of meat in the global diet could be a significant source of decarbonization, according to the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research.


The Deep Decarbonizaton report tells us what we probably already know. Those of us in developed/high consumption/industrialized countries need to get cracking with carbon reduction efforts and especially energy efficiency, renewable energy (to decarbonize electricity!) and replacing carbon-based transport fuels with alternatives.

These decarbonizers are also featured in our book, Bicycle, Airships and Things that Go. It’s a funny story about a family journey that happens to be powered by renewable energy and other decarbonizers. We just hadn’t though about it that way before.

So what is your secret, or not so secret, decarbonizer? What are the best kid decarbonizers?

Cycling season, with kids

Hopefully some places are getting a better summer than we have in London at the moment. Wherever you are, this is probably a time of year that bikes are in use, and since the Tour de France passed through London on Monday, I thought I’d offer some links about cycling with children. In an earlier post we looked at how bikes are a good link to sustainability and STEM, so check that out too.

Grist’s article “Babes in bikeland: Advice for cycling with kids” by Anna Fahey, points out that there are many ways to travel and commute with young children on your bike (with some great pictures).

Babes in Bikeland

The European Cyclists Federation offers insights into how they do things for kids in “high bike” countries like the Netherlands.

This article on LovingtheBike.com gives some insights into carrying kids as well as progressing them to their own bikes.

Trailer bike
REI’s Step 4: Trailer bike

Finally, REI (we’re not connected to REI in any way) has a short article about the progression of bike equipment for children, including a handy 5-minute video on an easy and comfortable way to teach kids how to learn to ride a bike.

Happy pedalling!