This is a very important year for my daughter, Amelia. 7th grade is the first grade where you are changing classes, and that means the subjects become more intense. At our middle school’s Back to School Night, her science teacher told me she is very into hands on science and, while there will be a lot of challenging vocabulary and things to remember in this first year of biology, she prompts her students to draw what they need to know. This is great news for Amelia, who is not only a visual learner but loves to draw.
For young kids, though, and for kids with special needs, science can be daunting. While PBS Kids shows do their best to teach STEM subjects, they don’t necessarily translate to proficiency in academics. Is there a fun way to prep your kids for science?
Thames and Kosmos is a company that’s trying to change that. They focus on creating interactive toys that can stimulate your child’s interest in a subject and get them on track to build a foundation for STEM learning. I received some review toys from them that help prep your for science learning in school.
This first product is from their Kids First line. These toys come in 3 levels, each geared toward a different age group, starting at age 3. Automobile Engineer is in Level 1 for kids aged 3-5. The manual takes a story book approach to showing how to assemble vehicles kids are familiar with, like a school bus. What you’re building is the guts of a working bus, not something that looks exactly like the real thing. This gives kids a great foundation for understanding the physics of how automobiles work, how to visualize a finished product from a concept and how to get to fit properly. Now, I did this with Zoe, who struggles with following direction (like putting a Lego or GoldiBlox project together) and this was a great first step for her! Heck, she even called me out – with a loud complaining call – when I misplaced a piece.
The pieces are big, making them great for little kids and giving the kids basics of gross motor skills. I thought it was interesting that they provided joints which were the same size and color, yet had different configurations – meaning you had to pay attention to get the right joint in! Well done, T&K! Not surprisingly, Zoe was better at this than I was.
The directions are really clear and easy and I highly recommend this for little kids and kids with learning disabilities who struggle with instructions. This product retails for $44.95 and comes with 70 pieces.
Chocolate Science Lab
Naturally, there are tons of cooking products around that my kids can’t use because they cannot eat the mixes. So when I saw this kit from Geek & Co. Science, my first question was, “Does it come with food?” The answer is no – you provide your own chocolate. So I recommend you use this kit with Enjoy Life Allergen free chocolate chips or chunks. That’s the good news.
Of course, my kids were ALL over this product, but making chocolate in the right shapes takes a long, long time. It has to cool and set for a few hours. It was fun to follow the book, but my girls did not have the focus to sit and create boxes while waiting for the chocolate to cool. In fact, they consumed it all in about 20 seconds after I gave the all clear!
I’d recommend using this product with your kids if they can wait for cool time. If you’re an early bird, start the process before school or an event, so they can come home and eat some treats and then prep other treats as gifts or favors for friends. Chocolate Science Lab is for kids 8 and older and retails for $19.95. Note that the molds are plastic. I’d recommend this for kids who are interested in advanced science and have allergies or foods sensitivities that prevent them from buying other cooking toys.
Thames and Kosmos makes a lot of great toys to help kids have fun and learn something, but do they make anything that the grown ups can get into? Come back soon to check out games for date night!