As you know by now, we are big supporters of STEAM toys at my house and I enjoy sharing them with you on the blog. I have shared many kinds of toys from building toys, to kits, to coloring toys.
This week I have another great kit to share. Similar to Tinkering Toddler Crates (which we shared about a few weeks ago), The Whole Kid and Kaboodle is a mom-run business creating fun sensory kits for kids.
I found them on Instagram (@thewholekidandkaboodle) and was drawn to their beautiful posts of fun sensory bins for kids. When they contacted me about their STEAM Kaboodle Kit, I was thrilled to try it with my kids. I have seen and read a lot about sensory bins on Instagram but we haven’t tried too many ourselves, and none that were specifically STEAM themed.
Whitney is a Licensed Professional Counselor and a mom. She founded The Whole Kid and Kaboodle to provide open-ended sensory play to engage and entertain kids.
Here is the explanation about the STEAM Kaboodle Kit from The Whole Kid and Kaboodle website:
STEAM is a common term used in the educational setting that stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math. This kit contains a collection of specifically curated loose parts to encourage children to think creatively, use their imagination, innovate, problem solve, ask questions, and experiment. This kit is designed to be an open ended activity meaning that the child gets to choose how and what they will make with the materials. There are endless possibilities of what children can make with this kit but there is also value in the creation process (the child exploring the items and figuring out how they work together or do not work together). This kit can be used by ages 3-103.The Whole Kid and Kaboodle STEAM Kaboodle Kit
I recently let my kids loose with our kit. They were excited to explore all the fun items in the box. From bendy pipes to straws, and styrofoam balls, there were lots of options to help them build their STEAM masterpieces.
My daughter took to the open-ended play immediately! She loved the black play dough and she used it as a base to start building, creating and playing.
My son, on the other hand, is more used to structured play. When I say we’re going to play with a STEAM toy he is used to things like Legos, Crafty Connects, 3Doodler Start, Smartivity, Kiwi Crates, etc… With those toys you can free play, build and use your imaginations, but they also provide detailed step by step instructions for more structured play.
My son is used to the structured and instructed play, so was thrown for a loop when there were no instructions. He kept asking me what he was supposed to do, what he could make and how to do it.
I tried to encourage him to use his imagination and STEAM knowledge to use the pieces provided to create something – anything – he wanted. He did not like the idea open-ended play, but eventually he ended up making some cool structures!
I agree with Whitney that open-ended play is very important for a child’s creativity and independent thinking development. I plan to keep introducing this and similar toys to both my kids to help them practice more open-ended play.
I also will encourage my kids to play open-ended with our Legos and Crafty Connects, with no expectations for the outcomes.
I think because my daughter is younger and hasn’t been used to more structured play for as long as my son has, she was completely fine with the open-ended nature of this toy and had a blast playing with it.
The black play dough was a cool idea. We have never had a black colored play dough before, so that was exciting for my kids. It did appear to stain my kids’ hands when they were playing with it, but it easily washed off with a light soap and water rinse.
I think it would be easy to create a similar kit yourself. But you have to buy and gather all the pieces, make the play dough, and set it all out for your kids. This kit is really helpful if you don’t have the time, energy, and/or resources to make something like this yourself (let’s face it, that’s most of us busy moms).
How often do you and your children do open-ended play? Have you tried sensory bins with your kids?