Summer is coming to an end which means kids will soon be heading back to school! Whether your kid(s) are bummed about or excited to return back to school, there are some products that can ease the back to school worries and even prepare kids for a successful school year ahead! From educational tablets, buildable magnetic toys, to science kits, such products allow kids to explore valuable S.T.E.A.M subjects at home before making it to the classroom.
A FEW OF OUR FAVORITES
PBS KIDS Playtime Pad+
We definitely keep screen time to a minimum in our house. With that being said, we do have tablet time opportunities each week. I prefer for their screen time to be educational. Through the Playtime Pad they have limited to access to games that promote literacy, math and other developmental categories. With the Playtime Pad 7” HD Kid Safe Tablet your child has access to an array of different educational experiences including PBS games, videos, and songs. We also love the kid-safe durable silicone case. This tablet is available at Walmart.com.
Magformers are a staple in our home. I find these STEAM toys to be on of the best investments we’ve made for the kids playroom. Magnetic tiles offer endless imaginative play because the sky is the limits with what you can build and unlike battery operated toys, magnets are ongoing. What I love most about Magformers is that they activate a child’s visual and spatial abilities while engaging in fun. Children are working on STEAM (science, technology, engineer, art and math) without even knowing it. Through building Magformers young minds are learning important engineering concepts such as design, structure, geometry and physics. They can work on mastering a goal by building a specific structure such as a truck, Ferris wheel or animal using the instruction manual that comes with each kit or they can use their imagination to come up with unique creations of their own. Build a crane or dump truck with this new construction set shown in the picture above.
See the following article for more learning through play ideas using Magformers Magformer Activities
OTHER GREAT OPTIONS
Also see these awesome education kits and labs by Thames & Kosmos…
Get hands-on with physics and engineering by constructing eight awesome walking machines! Explore the workings of gear trains, linkages, and intermittent gears as you create complex walking devices. Each model moves in a different way. For example, the four-legged terrain-walker bot keeps its body level as it moves step by step, while the kangaroo-bot hops forward on two legs. The leopard-bot has four long legs while the wild boar has four short legs. The fairy shrimp model wriggles along on swimmerets while the monkey model uses its arms to crawl along a string. AGES 6+ MSRP: $29.95
Gross shapes, and delicious flavors! Mold your own delicious gummy worms and spiders using a natural gelatin-like ingredient called carrageenan that comes from seaweed. Flavor and sweeten your mixture with mixed berry and green apple flavors and then mold the gummy worms and spiders in the included mold. You can even add citric acid to make sour gummies! Learn about the scientific properties of natural polymers. Food ingredients included. Age: 6+ MSRP: $19.95
Build a series of adorable, motorized robotic animals with this introductory mechanical engineering kit for kids ages five to seven. A beautifully illustrated 32-page storybook centers around the adventures of the Omegas — the family of makers and engineers featured in other Kids First early engineering kits. When Remus, the family’s robotic teddy bear, finds himself separated from the rest of his family, he embarks on a fun-filled safari adventure. Along the way, Remus encounters eight different robotic animals from all over the globe: a polar bear, cat, narwhal, crab, fox, baby llama, unicorn, and sea otter. As they follow the story, kids can build models of these robots and experiment with them to see how each one uses the battery powered motor and mechanical parts to move in a different way. AGES 5-7 MSRP: $29.95
Unearth the secrets of geology as you dig deep into the science of rocks and minerals and the crystals that form them. Through 18 hands-on experiments, kids ages eight and up will discover some pretty amazing things about geology, mineralogy, and crystal growing. As you explore, you’ll get an overview of the geologic rock cycle and discover how the three main categories of rock — igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic — are formed, altered, destroyed, and formed again. AGES 8+ MSRP: $44.95
Grow sparkling, colored crystals overnight from a safe solution of potassium aluminum sulfate. Single out the largest crystal shard, redissolve the remaining crystals, and repeat the crystal formation process to grow a larger, more striking crystal. These kits include all the materials and tools you need to grow a single crystal, as well as a small hexagonal storage box in which to keep your crystal safe. Available in pink, blue, green, and new mystery colors! AGES 8+ MSRP: $5.95 each.
Jumpstart your study of mechanical physics by learning all about simple machines and how they’re used to make complex tasks easier to do. The seesaw at the playground, the wheelbarrow in your backyard, the flagpole in front of your school — all of these are examples of simple machines in the real world! So start building, investigating, and experimenting to discover how physics is all around us. Through 26 model-building exercises, you’ll investigate all six classic simple machines — wheels and axles, levers, pulleys, inclined planes, screws, and wedges — as well as gears. Start off with simple models to gain a firm understanding of the basic principles at play, and then move onto larger, more complex models to push the machines harder and see how they can work together. Also included is a specially designed spring scale so that you can measure how the machines change the direction and magnitude of forces, making work easier to do. AGES 8+ MSRP: $29.95
Soaring spires, towering arches, fascinatingly complex curves and angles! Build your foundation in architectural design with this fascinating STEM experiment kit that explores the engineering principles behind planning and developing buildings and structures. Through model building exercises you play the role of architect and engineer as you piece together an array of models, from small, basic structural elements like trusses, arches, and domes, to giant complex models of real-world buildings. Try building the Sydney Opera House, or put the Eiffel Tower on display in your living room! With 20 guided model builds, you can construct stadiums, skyscrapers, a ferris wheel, and more. By getting hands-on with these exercises, you’ll develop an understanding of how architectural engineers apply scientific principles to their designs and how the buildings and structures of the 21st century push materials and engineering to the limits. The 44-page, full-color manual guides your journey while encouraging independent exploration. What is the tallest tower, the most voluminous dome, or the longest bridge you can build with the modular building pieces? How will you use what you learn to further your architectural journey? AGES 8-14 MSRP: $49.95
Super sweet stunts! Build your own gumball machines and learn physics lessons in the process. A turn of a handle dispenses one gumball at a time out of the clear storage globe and down the track. The gumballs land in a collection cup and can easily and sanitarily be returned to the globe for another run. The track segments can be moved around on the base to create an almost limitless number of different gumball machines. As the gumballs roll down the track, they perform cool stunts and tricks. Stunts include a pulley lift, pendulum, funnel, trampoline, variable-slope ramp, pinball launcher, and domino slide. Each segment of the track teaches a different lesson in mechanical physics, allowing users to explore topics including simple machines, force, motion, momentum, gravity, Newton’s laws, energy transfer, and more. Trial-and-error experiments teach in a fun, hands-on way: Will your gumball successfully make it to the end of the track, or will you have to reengineer your gumball machine to make it work? The kit works with standard machine-size, 16mm (5/8-inch) gumballs and includes a small supply of gumballs to get started. AGES 6+ MSRP: $39.95 Available Summer 2019.
Build your own adorable robotic pet hedgehog! With the 172 building pieces in this kit, you can assemble a real robot that looks like a cute hedgehog. The robot has a built-in sound sensor and is programmed to react to different sounds. After you build it, you can play with it by making different sounds and watching it tumble, roll, spin around, bristle its spines, and scurry around. Clap once, and the hedgehog will roll into a ball and tumble backwards. Clap multiple times, and the hedgehog will count your claps and tumble as many times as you instructed with your claps. You can also get the hedgehog to bristle its spines and act in a playful way with different patterns of claps. The hedgehog’s eyes light up with LEDs. By building the robot, you will gain experience in the inner mechanical workings that enable the robot to move how it does. Learn about gears, motors, sound sensors, LEDs, and the other components of this funny little pet. AGES 7+ MSRP: $39.95 Available Summer 2019.
A robot that defies gravity?! That’s what you get with Air-Walker, a four-legged bot that uses an ingenious system of suction cups and pumps to crawl along smooth, vertical surfaces like windows. A follow-up to the award-winning Geckobot STEM experiment kit, Air-Walker uses technology similar to that found in its reptilian predecessor, but with easier assembly. Your Air-Walker can crawl in a straight line, to the left, or to the right, while a special mechanism makes the robot’s head move back and forth as its body moves forward. You can also build four other models with the same components and learn how suction and mechanical devices can be used in different real-world applications. A vacuum-suction machine sticks to and lifts flat panels, while a robot with just two suction cups rotates around a central pivot point. This hands-on construction kit brings engineering and physics to life as it demonstrates the power of air pressure at work. A 32-page, full-color manual guides your model building and experiments with clear step-by step illustrated instructions. AGES 8+ MSRP: $39.95
Each Ooze Lab tube contains a fun and simple science experiment in a big plastic test tube that allows kids to create a safe material for fun play and chemistry learning. Ooze Labs 1: Magnetic Slime, Oozes Lab 2: Hot Ice Crystals, Ooze Labs 3: Magic Sand, Ooze Labs 4: Hypercolor Slime, Ooze Labs 5: Glow-in-the-Dark Slime, Ooze Labs 6 – Sunshine Slime, Ooze Labs 7 – Glitter Slime. Available now on Amazon, at Nordstrom and at your local toy store. AGES 7+ MSRP $4.95 each
Grab your beakers and test tubes and step up to your special laboratory station for some exciting chemistry experiments! See how much fun chemistry can be as you do slimy, fizzy, colorful, and bubbly experiments. This cool laboratory setup has lots of different vessels and pieces of lab equipment so kids can play the role of chemist while doing real, safe experiments. AGES 6+ MSRP $39.95
As lead chemist in your very own out-of-this-world laboratory, it’s your job to identify UFOs — Unidentified Funky Oozes! Set up and use your lab station — separately or as an extension of the Ooze Labs Chemistry Station (a Parents’ Choice Silver Honor winner!) — to mix up batches of unidentified “alien” slime and conduct tests on them to analyze and investigate their special properties. The kit comes with all the tools needed to set forth on your alien slime research mission. Use the syringe to conduct viscosity tests, roll the slime with a roller, and dissect it with tweezers and a plastic scalpel. Cut a brain shape out of the slime, stamp it with an alien head, and add eyes to it! Explore your slimes’ make-up and properties — like their different colors, glittery components, and glowing and color-changing effects — and then use your findings to correctly identify the different slimes. Real science and playful science fiction come together in this wacky, activity-filled kit! AGES 6+ MSRP: $29.95
It’s time to start mixing things up! In this pretend STEM scenario, you are a chemist for a bath and body products company and it’s your job to make and test different cosmetic products. Use the tools in your laboratory to employ different scientific techniques and essential chemistry principles to make soaps and bath bombs. Try out different additives to affect the color, smell, and other qualities of the products you make. Real science and pretend play come together in this activity-filled kit that can be used alone or as an extension of the Ooze Labs Chemistry Station (a Parents’ Choice Silver Honor winner!). As you mold different glycerin soap shapes, you learn about the chemical properties of soap that help it pick up and wash away dirt. While you’re concocting bath bombs, you learn about how acids and bases combine to form fizzing reactions, and what a pH level is. Expand your cosmetics knowledge with an overview of the biology of skin care and other science related to soap and bath products. All materials and chemicals are non-toxic. AGES 6+ MSRP: $29.95
***The Playful Parent was not paid to endorse these products. Information on these toys is being provided as a resources to promote learning through play. I would like to thank PBS Kids and Magformers for donating a sample in order to provide a review.***