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WHAT: Preventing the Summer Slide- a follow up to my story at Forbes.com
DOES: More photos, ideas, and fun facts about my favorite top ten summer favorites.
INVEST: $3 and up
AGES: these vary by product
GIVEAWAY PRIZE: One person will win pretty much everything mentioned here. I think its worth over $400... have to add that up soon.
BEFORE you read this, make sure you read my top ten list at Forbes.com. I hope you come back because in this post, I'll be offering you more photos and commentary to help you make your picks this summer.
Do you believe that there exists something called the "Summer Slide?" I wonder how real this problem is and what can be done about it.
All I know is that come September, I ask my eldest this question, "So what did you learn in school today?" It's a typical September question, no? His response is also typical. "We just review. We are just reviewing this month."
This brings lots of questions to my head.
Are we really supposed to give kids 10-12 weeks off every summer?
Are average parents equipped to prevent kids from regressing during the summer months?
What is gained by children in the summer?
Are those gains, if any, worth the risk of allowing for an academic-free summer "vacation"?
Do parents ever use the summer to cement the learning that took place in the school year?
Why aren't standardized test scores ever used to help kids use the summer to catch up to their peers?
If kids are assigned summer homework, should the "review" part that takes at the beginning of the school year be taken out of the curriculum?
I hope you liked the article in Forbes. It took months and months of serious research and serious play to get you these findings. I hope there is something in this list for everyone whether your budgets is in the tens or the hundreds. These have been an absolute thrill to the kids. I am extremely grateful for all the manufacturers for pitching in a giveaway product for the big summer giveaway of the year!
Summer is for Engineering:
- Air + Water Power Plus:
($89.95) (Ages: 8+)
On top of what I said about this at Forbes, I'd like to give one piece of advice. You may find saying out loud, Air-Plus-Water-Power-Plus to be somewhat harder to roll off the tongue. However, consider the other option "Pneumatic-Hydraulic Engines-Deluxe" Both might be hard to say but that is exactly what it is. What I like most about this set is how it opens your eyes to see how prevalent this type of mechanics is in our everyday lives. There are tons of possibilities beyond the 60 pages of pictorial directions in color. Thirty building ideas are provided but their favorite will likely be the air powered cars or the double tank water gun.
- Red Toolbox and 6 Piece Tool Set:
(Ages: 8+) ($49.99)
The giveaway from Red Toolbox is the toolset, box, and DIY set of your choice under $25.
This set is very similar to a set that I reviewed in 2012. Number 7 had a great time showing his skills to his dad who trained as a mechanical engineer. David Wells, Manager, Creative Making and Learning, New York Hall of Science, who embodies my definition of a super teacher thought that the Red Toolbox kit had seen these tools and liked how it helped parents good tools for kids. I think the saw and hammer is pretty nifty and will be the best bang for the buck. You will likely have a hard time buying a saw for a kid anywhere.
A paper crane flies with us during our vacation on Virginia Beach.
This is actually a mobius strip made unintentionally by me! Perfectly stashed away in our car for trips short and long. Pictured: 192 Paper Strips Sold at Red Hen Toys. Weaving is big with OT's Check out this other product if you are interested this OT's weaving toy.
eeBoo Foil Fancy Paper ($11.99)2 inch Paper Circles -5 colors ($2.99 for 100 count)192 Paper Weaving Strips ($5.99)
This year, I have discovered paper! It is the best! It's eco-friendly, lightweight, resusable, and disposable (guilt free). Yet, it is great for kids who love to design and build. I like to make mine 3D but kids may prefer to make 2D collages. It doesn't matter. Just get a scissor and glue dots and you are set!
- Create Your Own Pop-Up Books (Ages: 5+) ($19.99)
Seriously, you will not find many products like this at this price. A make your own book kit is becoming a lost art. But really, the simplicity of this kit as well as the fact that everything you need, comes in this box is just incredible. Want more inspiration? Check out this video.
Smart Minds Control Smart Bodies
- POOF Strato-Slam Rocket Battle
Blast : (Ages: 5+) ($36.99)
Two feet, one on each blaster? Yeah, of course he did. But it's more fun when he does this with his little brother.
Say you stomped and shot your rocket and then you caught your rocket. What are the chances that you will look at your friend, the minute you catch it? This moment not only defines the concept of "joint attention" but it captures just how important it is. In my gif photo and video, you will see my son looking at me (holding the camera) because he wants to share the moment. This concept of "shared attention" is not about being able to learn with a group, it is about being able to enjoy learning with a group.
- ALEX TOYS Gigantic Racket Set: (Ages: 3+) ($19.95) (I would aim higher for age... 5+ maybe?)
In the Forbes.com post, I explained how racquet games really require your full attention and participation. Your whole body has to "be present."
Anyone sending their kids to tennis camp this summer? I am not. Two summers at the Frank Brennan Tennis Academy are memories that remind me that I have zero skill in this sport. But seriously, if you look at the pictures above you will know that there is great pleasure when two people hit a ball back and forth. I love how this product is very affordable, very lightweight, and most importantly, very playable. As much as I love tennis. It's very hard for kids to get a volley going if they haven't had a lesson. This toy keeps things light and easy. I love that.
- Phlat Ball : (Ages: 8+) ($17.99)
I love that shade of purple. It's not a big ball but it is designed to help you make it soar. Wow, it looks like a fish!
I love how you can shmush this and make it into a totally different shape. That is just crazy to me. Really though, it is fun to have something familiar in a totally different way.
Games On The Go
- Rory's Story Cubes- Voyages:
($7.99) (Ages 8+)
A teacher I greatly respect, Barbara Bolich, the resource room teacher at Jefferson Elementary in Spokane, Washington was very interested in this idea of using dice to tell stores. "There are not enough hours in the day for kids to create story, and a game centered on that would help families too." I think Ms. B definitely knows what she is talking about because my husband is not big on words but likes dice and card games (he's a Wall Street guy, surprised?) He knew right away how to model good storytelling and made our really awful museum cafeteria lunch bearable that day.
- Ani-gram-it Card Game: ($19.99)(8+)
I took this picture myself at the aquarium at Virginia Beach. I had played Ani-gram-it right before going to the aquarium and it helped us look at the sea creatures in a whole new light. This is a fiddler crab. I couldn't believe my eyes.
- Spot It!:
How is this game possible? What is the mathematical equation that allows for any two card to have only one image common - always? It is a mystery or perhaps it is not because this whole game seems so simple. Perhaps that is why it is so fun. Now that I have the original Spot It!, I can understand why there have been so many different themes offered to players. It is clean and wholesome fun of the very addictive variety.
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Disclosure: Toys are Tools was not compensated by the manufacturers of anything mentioned here for the publication of this review. The reviewed items were provided to Toys are Tools to facilitate a review. Reviews are never promised.