Thursday, September 25, 2014

Introducing Science to Young Children

For the last two years there have been quite a few science toys  featured at the annual Toy Fair show in New York.  STEM education is in these days and it is close to my heart.  STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics.  We don’t have enough people majoring in these subjects and the toy industry is jumping on the bandwagon by introducing some wonderful science sets that are sure to spark interest in kids - including young children.

Full disclosure – I was one of those kids and studied chemical engineering and had a career in engineering for 30 years.  My husband and son are engineers and I am convinced that my 5 year old grandson definitely has skills and interests in this direction.  So yes, I think the emphasis on STEM education is a great idea.

These new science oriented toys are not like the ones we remember that would only appeal to the nerdiest of older kids.   These toys are a great way to introduce kids to the excitement of science in a hands-on way.  There is way too much to put in one blog post so today’s post is about science toys for young children and the next one will be for older kids.  All of the pictures were taken by me at Toy fair displays - no stock images. 

Clifford The Big Red Dog Science Kits
from The Young Scientists Club   Ages 3 and up
There are five of these kits – Bubble Science, Rainbow Science, Kitchen Science, Food Science and Animal Science.  Each set comes with a 20 page manual narrated by Emily Elizabeth and all the materials needed to conduct simple science experiments.  These kits are design for pre-schoolers and offer an excellent and interesting introduction to science.
Clifford The Big Red Dog Science Kits

Oh, That's me with Clifford The Big Red Dog

My First Microscope
By GeoSafari/Educational Insights  Ages 3 and up
Everybody enjoys looking in a microscope but this isn’t something that young children can usually enjoy for the simple reason that you need to close one eye and look with the other.  This microscope designed for young children features two scopes – no need to squint.  I love it!

My First Microscope by GeoSafari/Educational Insights

My First Microscope by GeoSafari/Educational Insights

Metal Detector, Color Mixer and More
by Learning Resources    Products for every age group

Learning Resources makes lots of educational toys and products used in schools as resources for learning.  They have an excellent line of science oriented toys for young children and here a few of my pictures from Toy Fair.

Learning Resources Mix and Measure Set

Learning Resources Color Mixing Set

More Interesting Science Items from Learning Resources

This Lab Coat from Learning resources will fit a child ages 3- 7.

The Magic School Bus Series
from The Young Scientists Club
Remember Ms. Frizzle and the Magic School bus?  They were great books that my kids loved as Ms. Frizzle took her class on exciting and fun science adventures.  With these science sets Ms. Frizzle takes her students on wild rides in the Engineering Lab, Weather Lab and Slime and Polymer Lab and more.  In the Engineering Lab young scientists become engineers when they build a solar oven, design a car, construct a bridge, create solar energy, design an electric game, make a simple machine, construct a submarine, and more.  And it comes in this great Magic School Bus box.  This one is coming to my house in the near future for sure.

The Magic School Bus Slime and Polymer Lab from The Young Scientists Club

Here I am with Ms. Frizzle - What Fun!
  Check out most of these at Amazon.  See the links below:

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Celebrate National Play Doh Day - DohVinci – for Older Kids

Today is national Play Doh Day!!  Yeah!!!  For the occasion I thought I would write about something new from Play Doh and oriented for an older child.  In August I attended a small Hasbro show for bloggers which featured new products.  My favorite is this new line from Play Doh – DohVinci – which is aimed at children older than the traditional pre-school.  Recommend over ages 6 and up.

Here I am at the work table creating a decorated picture frame

DohVinci is a new air dry compound that fit into a styler and squezzed unto any surface that you like.  There are different attachments for different designs.  You let it air dry and voila – you have a 3-D work of art.  At the event we had the opportunity to decorate a frame with DohVinci, let it dry and take it home.

Here are the simple directions on display at the show

Okay, So I'm not much an artist - but I sure had fun.

There are sets you can buy to decorate such as this one....
DohVinci Style and Store Vanity Kit

This is a great product for a craft at a sleepover birthday party or a grandparent visit.  It would make a fun project for a grandmother and school age child to do together - perhaps making homemade holiday gifts.  Check it out - available in stores and at Amazon.  See some Amazon links below.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Zing Zano Bow, Sky Gliderz and my Grandson's Haircuts

Zing Zano Bow Target

In the Spring and Fall I attend the Time to Play Showcase in New York and get to see lots of new toys that will be available for the coming season.  There is always a crowd around the ZING display and lots of smiling grownups enjoying playing with the toys.  They are lots of fun and although you can play with them indoors and outdoors I recommend them for outdoor play. 
Today I am going to describe two items the Zano Bow for young children and the SkyGliderz for kids of all ages.

Zano Bow by Zing

Zano Bow
I usually review products that I can test out on my grandson or another child who is visiting.  This one seemed perfect for that. The Zano Bow is for ages 4+ and Zach is 5.  My husband, Pop, is the official barber and when Zach gets a haircut, Grandma usually provides a gift he can choose from her cache of toys she gets for reviews and at shows.  Zach wasted no time with this selection and he chose the Zano Bow for his summer haircut present.  But soon it was time to go home and I didn’t get a chance to see him play with it.  I did ask him about it.  Zach’s review – “I like it and I play with it outside with my Dad.  It goes far and works really well.  Yes Grandma – it is easy to figure out how to use it. 

The Zano Bow is a small bow and arrow combo.  The bow is only eight inches long.  The arrows are designed to fly super straight and so even a younger child has a good chance of hitting the target (it's on the back of the package).  The arrows have soft-foam suction cup tips and did not go very far.  This is a toy that a child can enjoy alone but can also be fun for a parent or grandparent to join in.  Because of the limited reach and soft arrows this really can be played with indoors.  The arrows won’t knock anything over and no one will get hurt.

Sky Gliderz

Sky Gliderz by Zing

The Sky Gliderz says for ages 8+ but our 5 year old grandson had a great time with it and no problem using it.  Pop showed him once and he was off. The Sky Gliderz was his present of choice for his back to school (Kindergarten begins next week!) haircut this morning.

Zach is patient while Pop gives him his Back to School Haircut

Here's Zach with his haircut and haircut present - a Zing Sky Gliderz
Sky Gliderz are light weight soft foam stealth planes that zoom through the air with the greatest of ease. To prepare for takeoff, hook the planes on the bungee loop, pull back, flick the wrist and watch them ascend into the sky! I definitely recommend using this outside as it can go quite a distance and high into the air. 

 If you hold the glider and aim at different angles you can get loop-de-loops, boomerang and other paths that the rocket will take.  Zach enjoyed this and was willing to share with Grandma and Pop so we all took turns.

The one problem we had was that we have a lot of trees in our backyard and the planes went so high that they would get lost high in the trees.  Even if you are careful where you aim, when the Sky Gliderz moves fast with its high flying loop-do-loops you don’t know where it will land.  So try to stay clear of trees.

All three of us had fun with the Sky Gliderz and it is a great intergenerational active toy.  Great for outdoor parties too.  Take turns and even the younger kids can make these planes take quite a ride.

David Letterman had great fun with it too.  Here he is playing with it about a month ago on Late Night with David Letterman.  Dave’s comment, “This is great.  I can do this all night.”  

Oh - and that is a driveway full of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in Chalk.  That was last week's project.


You can find both of these toys on Amazon.  Just click below to check it out.