Top 10 Lesson Ideas for Grade 1 using 3D Printing

We know that Makers Empire’s 3D printing software is very easy to use because our users tell us so. We just love hearing stories about very young students solving problems and being creative with their designs. Here are some of our favourite design challenges for first-grade students for you to try with your own students.

1. Happy Birthday Cards

Ask students to design a greeting card for a friend. Birthday cards look great with 3D printed numerals and decorations attached to them. Students can create and 3D print the numeral as well as the appropriate number of decorations. 6 soccer balls. 7 butterflies etc.

2. Library Bag Characters

We know a first-grade class who all had identical library bags. It was hard to tell the bags apart. These students solved the problem by designing their favourite book character which looked great when they were 3D printed and hung from the library bags.

3. Magical pets

What if you could have a magic pet? Challenge students to design their own magical pet using the Shaper module. Will their pet have a unicorn horn, rainbow wings or magical spring feet? These pets can make great starting points for descriptive and creative writing too.

4. Special gift

There are many opportunities for first graders to design and 3D print gifts for the special people in their lives. 3D printed designs can be attached/threaded onto hairclips, keyrings, earring hoops etc to make a personalised gift for a parent or loved one. Choosing a design that the gift recipient would like (rather than themselves) is a good way to introduce human-centred design criteria to young children.

5. Link up

Challenge the class to make a chain of 3D printed monkeys (or another animal). The animals must have a long curly tail or arms that can hook onto each other.

6. How did you get to school?

Makers Empire’s 3D design software is a great tool for young students to use to organise and communicate mathematical data. We know a teacher who wanted students to collect and represent data about how different students travel to school. Students used different colour blocks in the Blocker Module to represent the groups of students who travelled by bus, car, walking etc.

7. Friendly creatures

What if someone in the class was feeling sad or lonely? Design a creature in toy designer that would cheer another child up. One school we know has a ‘buddy bench’ in the school year where children who need someone to play with can meet up. The friendly creatures would make a cheerful and decorative addition to the ‘buddy bench’.

8. Finger puppets

After reading a story, ask students to design a character from the story. These can be 3D printed and attached to a cut-off rubber glove finger to make a finger puppet. Great for storytelling and oral language activities!

9. Puzzle me

Provide 3D spatial puzzles for students to solve in Makers Empire’s Blocker Module such as What is the biggest square you can make? How can you make a rectangle using squares? How many blocks do you need to make a cube?

10. Mini me

Challenge first graders to design a mini-me model of themselves in Makers Empire’s Shaper Module. Which shapes will be best to put together to make a human model that looks like them? Provide safety mirrors and encourage students to observe their physical features as they are creating their designs.

Makers Empire’s Lesson Ideas are free, quick and easy ideas to get you started with 3D design and printing. We hope you enjoyed this post.


Mandi Dimitriadis, DipT. is an experienced classroom teacher who recognises the power of technology to enhance teaching and improve educational outcomes. Mandi has extensive experience with curriculum development and learning, having previously developed programs for the Australian Government’s Department of Education. She is passionate about Design Thinking and how best to prepare today’s students for the future.

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