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When my son and I have alone time, he always asks me if we can do science. By “science” I know he means all things STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math). It’s exciting to me that he has started to associate STEM activities with fun time with me. Some of our favorite activities are doing activities from our Kiwi Co subscription box and building with Legos.
I was given a few STEM activity kits from Smartivity to try out with my kids, and I couldn’t wait to share them with my son. We were given the Fantastic Optics Kaleidoscope and the Super Duper Propulsion Car toys.
The boxes for both of these activities say they are meant for kids ages 6+. I was a little worried about this age recommendation because my son is only four-and-a-half (4.5) years old. It turns out he could enjoy building and playing with these kits easily with my help. I think older kids (ages 6+ as the box recommends), may be able to build these activities themselves with out parental help.
At 4.5 years old, my son needed my full help and and attention while building these kits, but I was 100% ok with that! I love building, playing, and spending quality time alone with my son. This was a great do-it-together (DIT) activity for us!
We purposely did these activities together while my daughter was sleeping. I knew that at 2 years old, she was definitely too young to work on these activities with us. She is currently more into destroying than building, so I thought her presence may be counter-productive. And my son enjoys our occasional one-on-one time that is more rare these days now that he is a big brother.
We started with the Super Duper Propulsion Car kit. On the back of the boxes it lists skill and concepts learned in this project. I was impressed by the amount of thought and detail that went into these kits.
I have to be honest, the amount of (small) parts in the box and lengthy instruction booklet intimidated me. I was thinking about my preschooler and wondering if his attention span and fine motor skills were ready for this kind of project.
Finally, one Saturday afternoon when I was feeling brave we sat down together and opened the kit. My son was giddy with excitement about this project! We started by punching out all sorting out all the pieces we needed.
Then we began working on building, one step at a time. The instructions are well written, clear, and easy to follow. We had no trouble figuring out what to do. It went much smoother than I anticipated, and my son wanted to do most of the work himself. I read to him what to do and he did it (with some help from me).
His little fingers were the perfect size to work with the little rubber bands. He became an expert at stretching and placing the rubber bands.
It took us about 45 minutes to fully assemble the track and car.
Once finished the assembly, we were ready to use the pump to propel the car. This was more difficult to get working than I expected. We ended up needing my husband’s help to properly pump up the balloon so the car would go. But once he got it working, we had a blast propelling the car down the track.
I thought it was awesome that at the end the instructions suggested coloring in the car and track. This is the A in STEAM, and a fantastic way for the kids to personalize the project.
My son was thrilled to do this and spent the next hour carefully coloring his car and track. Now it feels more personalized to him, and he loves it!
A few days later we were ready to build our Fantastic Optics Kaleidoscope. This box also listed the impressive skill and concepts that would be taught in this kit. We were again impressed with a quality, and well thought-out project.
This project was similar to the car, with many small parts and detailed instructions. Again, we punched out and sorted all the pieces before we began.
We worked our way through the easy to follow instructions, one step at a time.
This project was a little less work to assemble (maybe because we had experience from the previous kit?), and it took us about 30 minutes total to assemble.
My son enjoyed getting to select the color arrangement of the tiles on the outside of kaleidoscope wheel. He also loved selecting and counting 15 beads for each compartment in the wheel.
Our finished kaleidoscope has been endless fun for the whole family to look through.
We’ve all enjoyed looking at the changing shapes and colors.
My son also liked coloring in his finished kaleidoscope. The chance to personalize these kits makes them extra special!
Overall, we really enjoyed these projects. They were a great way for my son and I to spend the afternoon together. I love that my son considers educational play time with mom fun! He was bouncing with excitement while working on both projects, and he was proud of the result of his focused work when we completed the projects.
I would recommend these projects for all kids ages 5+. I would not recommend these kits for anyone younger than my son. These STEM kits require a long attention span and plenty of hand-eye coordination to assemble.
But the patience and dedication required from these kits pay off. The toys are fun, and my son was proud that he built it himself. Beyond the skills promoted on the back of the kits, I believe they are also teaching great skills like following instructions, patience, attention to detail, hand-eye-coordination and fine motor skills.
I highly recommend these Smartivity kits for STEM loving kids (and parents) age 5+. If you’re interested in ordering these great kits for your kids you can order them on Amazon using my links.
***** I have a special surprise for you! Smartivity is giving away one of these two kits to a reader of my blog! To enter head over to my Instagram account (@engineering_emily), and follow all the instructions in my latest post. It’s easy to enter and you can win this great prize! 🙂 *****
Have you tried any Smartivity kits yet, or will you be interested in trying after reading this review?