Review by Victoria Gannon, Common Sense Education | Updated September 2012

Instructables

Endless collection of DIY projects; good for sharing and inspiration

Subjects & skills
Subjects
  • English Language Arts

Skills
  • Creativity
  • Character & SEL
  • Critical Thinking
Grades This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
6–12
Great for:
Common Sense says (See details)
Teachers say (5 Reviews)

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Pros: Inspiring collection of projects will make kids want to build things they hadn’t thought possible and upload their own ideas.

Cons: Broad categories and countless tags could overwhelm and discourage focus.

Bottom Line: User-generated projects inspire sharing and learning, though more refined navigation would make it easier to sift through all the great ideas.

Teachers can keep kids focused by imposing productive limits: Ask kids to search under a single keyword or preselect and assign several projects under a single theme, such as Sewing Projects You Can Make in a Day. You can also pose questions that students can answer with an Instructables project, like “What would you want if you were stranded on a desert island?” Kids could respond by building a stove out of an Altoids tin, a PVC bow and arrow, or an emergency water supply station. Some projects require buying supplies, so you should review them before giving kids approval to start making. To tie projects more explicitly to a curriculum, visit the Teacher Resources page, where many science- and math-themed Instructables live.

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Instructables is a vast repository of DIY projects contributed by people of all ages around the world. Users upload instructions and photographs that guide others through the steps. On the homepage, kids are greeted by four tabs: Explore, Create, Contests, and Community. Under Explore, they’ll find a list of categories (technology, food, living, play, and outside) and featured and recent projects. The Create tab guides kids through the process of uploading their own creations using a Wordpress-style content management system. Kids who want to upload their own Instructable must create an account, but those who only want to read others’ projects can browse anonymously.

The Contests category shares competitions (with prizes!) based on themes chosen by the Instructables team. A recent list includes a Bike Contest, a Fried Food Contest, and a Drones Contest. Users vote for the Instructable they think deserves to win. The Community section includes groups and forums organized by shared interests, such as Urban Prototyping or Drawing and Art. Instructables offers free Pro accounts for teachers, which allows kids to share within a closed group, only open to members of their class.

An active and supportive user community submits comments, asks and answers questions, and gives encouragement. Classroom interaction could be modeled after this supportive online environment: Kids could work together to tackle projects and then offer feedback on each other’s work. Those inspired to submit projects could form groups, brainstorm ideas, and break projects into steps. Groups could be broken down into multiple roles, such as photographer, instruction writer, inventor, and tester. The site challenges kids to work together, follow directions, and use their imaginations, making it worthwhile in itself.

Overall Rating

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?

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; it’s easy to get distracted rather than pick a project.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?

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.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?

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.


Teacher Reviews

(See all 5 reviews) (5 reviews) Write a review
Featured review by
Mona E. , Technology coordinator
Technology coordinator
Huntington High School
Huntington, United States
The website is a great resource for design and 3d printing ideas.
I liked all the different design ideas that can be found on the site. I have noticed ads for items not appropriate for students such as Mike's Hard drinks. Also, some of the design ideas are not for students but a teacher can use the site for their own research and only use the designs they feel are appropriate for students.
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