What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Instructables is a gigantic DIY site where users share how to build, cook, sew, invent, or try almost anything. The site's overall tone is positive and supportive and encourages creativity. Searching through all of the ideas to separate the good from the bad is better left to adults -- or at least to teens who will check with adults before attempting to build their own outdoor hot tub or reassemble electronics. Expect plenty of ads, as well as a section devoted to alcoholic creations.
What kids can learn
Language & Reading
- following directions
- presenting to others
Thinking & Reasoning
- analyzing evidence
- applying information
- problem solving
- asking questions
- thinking critically
- making new creations
- achieving goals
- work to achieve goals
- digital creation
- using and applying technology
Engagement, Approach, Support
Trove of user-uploaded DIY projects feed kids’ imaginations and inspire them to submit their own ideas. Picture-heavy site offers endless selection of things to click on; it’s easy to get distracted and browse rather than pick a project.
A wide range of projects -- from bicycle stands to DIY circuit boards to lasagna -- encourage and empower kids to try things they hadn't considered.
Comments section allows users to ask creators about their projects. The site’s breadth means projects come at every level, though entries could be arranged differently to make it easier to browse according to skill.
What's it about?
If teens are searching Instructables for a project, they can do so by typing in the name of a project (like "Spartan helmet," "red velvet cupcakes," or "chicken coop") in the on-site search engine, or browse by category: Tech, Living, Outside, Workshop, Food, or Play. Click on the project and read or watch the (usually) step-by-step instructions. If a teen wants to post a project, visit the Share page and follow one of three methods of posting: Photos, Step-by-Step, or Video. Registered users can also enter contests (to win some pretty big prizes, like an iPad2) and vote on entries.
Is it any good?
INSTRUCTABLES was created by an MIT engineering Ph.D who loves "building kite powered contraptions, cooking breakfast, and demystifying technology so even his grandmother can use it." Users of this site can learn how to do all of those things and more, as well as share their skills and ideas with others. There are some ideas here that are just plain silly, but others are super helpful if you're looking for something specific. Plus there's a lot of creative ideas here that are just fun to browse for the sake of learning.
Online interaction: People can comment on the projects. Most comments appear on point and generally positive or at least not hurtful. There are very active forums for people who register and Pro Members-only forums who pay for that membership as well. A helpful questions and answers section allows people to ask about a problem on a project and get responses.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about why sharing ideas can often help make them better. Would teens be willing to submit an idea or instructions for something they're passionate about? Why or why not?
Talk about safety. Just because a project is featured on the Internet doesn't make it perfectly safe or reliable. Discuss basic safety guidelines and whether certain types of projects need your parental approval first. And talk about Internet safety too -- what's OK to share with others and what's not?