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Magnets are magical.
At least, they seem so to young children.
Hold a paper clip near a magnet, and it flies toward it. Hold two opposing magnets near each other, and they seem to hover.
Magnets are great for encouraging children’s curiosity about the physical world. What are different objects made of? What are metals, and what does it mean to be metal, as opposed to wood or plastic? How much paper can I hold on the refrigerator with a single magnet, and why? With Magformers, children can safely enjoy exploring magnets while building 3-D creations from flat geometric shapes. Cylindrical magnets are encased in each side of the plastic triangles, squares, hexagons and other shapes, and each side of each piece sticks to any other piece. They’re one of our Spring Top Toys!
In addition to learning about magnetic properties, Magformers help children develop spatial thinking: the ability to picture the location of objects, their shapes and their positions as they move. By creating 3-D objects from the flat magnetic pieces, Magformers help kids understand and manipulate the elements of a structure. “Spatial thinking is associated with skill and interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, as well as art, graphic design and architecture.” —Nora S. Newcombe, Ph.D., What Does “Spatial Thinking” Mean?, learnnow.org
The sets come with diagrams to help kids get started with their 3-D shapes. Once they get the hang of it, they’ll be building castles, airplanes, towers, or whatever they can imagine.
Magformers construction sets come in various color schemes and are great for kids 3+ (but better suited for 5 to 6+). For the child who loves cars or electronics, the Magformers Walking Robot Set and Magformers XL Cruisers Set include a walking mechanism or wheels to set your creations in motion. They're also great building toys for younger children (with supervision). Since any side of a piece can attach to any other side, it's easy for preschoolers to grasp the concept and start building quickly.
So pick up some Magformers, and see what you can create!
It was the early 1990s, and recycling was all the rage. Captain Planet and the Planeteers were battling pollution on TV, and “reduce, reuse, recycle” was becoming a mantra. So when I was asked to make an invention for a science fair, I made a robot from recycled shampoo bottles.
To be honest, my robot didn’t do anything other than stand there. (I somehow walked away with an Honorable Mention.) But there are kids out there inventing every day and learning as they go. For some examples, see the kid inventions from last year’s White House Science Fair.
Whether fun or funcational, the child inventor is learning critical skills:
“The ability to invent requires something that comes naturally to most young children: creativity and imagination. Creative thinking is an important life skill that can be applied to everything they do, especially to problem-solving, which is what inventing is all about.” –Ellen Church, Let's Invent Something Together!, Scholastic Parents
Kid Inventor’s Day is Jan. 17. What will your child invent?
Kids that invented things from the trampoline to earmuffs.
Here are five toys and books to encourage your kid inventor:
50 Science Things to Make and Do offers kids easy instructions for activities ranging from physics (Fire a Balloon Rocket) to nature studies (Butterfly Feeder) to chemistry (Making Gloop). These hands-on activities will inspire kids to think about how they interact with their world and wonder, “What else can I make?”
LEGO bricks allow kids to build entire creations out of small elements. LEGO builders visualize an end product and use problem-solving to get there, using the tools available and revising as they go. The possibilities are limitless – just check out this LEGO car, full-sized LEGO house and LEGO piano!
3. Snap Circuits
Snap Circuits teaches kids about electrical circuits with the parts and instructions for hundreds of projects they can complete solo. Kids can also make their own creations, experimenting with batteries, lights, fans, speakers and more! Just watch this kid explain the circuitry—will he grow up to invent the next smartphone?
4. Crazy Aaron’s Mixed By Me Thinking Putty Kit
Mix, stretch, and observe the results with Crazy Aaron’s Mixed By Me Thinking Putty Kit. Kids can experiment with three special-effect putties and three concentrated-color putties. Does blue putty glow in the dark better than red? Does glitter affect the stretchiness? The combinations are endless!
5. Air-Stream Machines Kit
Hovercrafts aren’t just science fiction! Kids will learn about how air pressure works while building their own hovercrafts that can traverse water or land. The impressive and functional results will build kids’ confidence and even spark an interest in engineering. What vehicle will your child dream up next?
I’m inspired by all the kid inventors out there! Keep your kids motivated with opportunities to stretch their imaginations in new ways. I can’t wait to see what they create.