Preschool Years at Home

Laughing, Loving, and Learning Together

Bits and Pieces

on July 19, 2012

With package after package of new educational goodies arriving these days, it’s hard to say who’s more excited — the girls or their Mommy! Our Timberdoodle Co. order arrived this past Friday, and both girls zeroed in on a tin of Heat Sensitive Thinking Putty. Little Bear is a sensory seeker, so I expected her to love having a tin of bouncy, stretchy, color-changing goo in her favorite colors. What I hadn’t counted on, however, was Baby Bear’s fascination with the stuff. The container alone captivated her, and once she figured out how to empty it of its contents, there was no stopping her! I stepped out of the bathroom one recent morning to be greeted by this scene:

Good clean fun!

She’d gotten the tin off one of the school shelves, taken it to the desk, opened it, pried the putty out, and started playing with it in less than two minutes of unsupervised “freedom.” She played independently for at least 15 more minutes (no small feat for a 14-month-old!) before reluctantly allowing me to pry it out of her hands so that we could go bye-bye. Thankfully, the tin holds 3 1/2 ounces of putty — plenty to entertain both girls and at least one parent.

I have to admit, the color-changing properties of this substance are less spectacular than I had hoped. The girls, however, have been so busy stretching it, squishing it, squeezing it, and shaping it that they haven’t even noticed the color variations (or lack thereof).

My overall rating? At least 4.5/5 stars. I can’t quite bring myself to give it that fifth star since you pretty much have to refrigerate to see more than minimal color changes, but it will be on our homeschool supply list for years to come.

We also got our Rainbow Resource Center order this week and dug through it this morning. Among other things, I picked up a magnetic tile and tray set to accompany our much-used Mighty Mind design cards. Little Bear couldn’t wait to try them out and create some freestyle magnetic art on her easel:

“Who’s the best Mighty Mind artist around here?”

Mighty Mind is easily a 5-star product in my book (so much so that I already have Mighty Mind Challenger and Super Mind waiting in the wings). The addition of the magnetic tiles and board make a great product even better.

Magnetic Mosaic

Along with new tools, we’ve also been pulling some older items out of the closet and putting them to good use. Little Bear got the Orb Factory My First Picture Maker for Christmas, but one whiff of the magnetic foam design tiles that came with it sent me gasping for fresh air. I broke the tiles apart, spread them out in the box so that they could air out, put the box out of reach of little hands, and promptly forgot about it … for six and a half months. I finally noticed it again yesterday, gave it the sniff test, and happily observed that the reeking chemical smell was gone.

Little Bear was eager to try it, so I set her up with the first pattern card in the deck. She worked alone for about 20 minutes before getting frustrated and asking for help. The magnetic backing on the foam mosaic tiles is quite weak, and the slightest bump was enough to displace them. Digging through a bag of 300 tiles to find the ones she needed was also a bit daunting. Inevitably, every time she’d turn to hunt for tiles, she’d bump her project and skew half the tiles she’d already positioned. In the end, I dug out tiles while she positioned them, and she finished the task happily enough. She said that she liked this product, but not as much as sticker mosaic kits made by the same company because, in her words,  “the stickers stay where you put them.”

I was admittedly a bit disappointed by this product. On the one hand, I love the idea and versatility. It comes with 20 reusable pattern cards which challenge kids to match tiles by color, number, and letters. It also has great potential for free play. The magnetic tiles are rather flimsy, though. Five of them lost their glittery top layer during the first play session, and we were handling them gently. The pattern cards are also quite thin — similar in weight and feel to glossy fingerpainting paper. Laminating them for added longevity isn’t really an option due to the weakness of the magnets in the magnetic tiles. Last but not least, the chemical off-gasing concerns me. Yes, the odor has decreased with time, but I don’t typically expose my children to chemicals that leave me gasping for air.

Overall rating? 3.5/5. We’ll probably get a decent amount of use out of this product, but I wouldn’t order it again.

So what else has our week been filled with? Lots of reading and lots of time in the pool, a few games, daily fine motor work, Duplo zoo building, Magnatile farm building, and Konstruk Tube rocket building … lazy summer fun with a purpose!

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