The other day, like a lot of families, we were surprised out of our Summertime complacence by storms. Huge, howling, bucketfuls-of-rain storms.
As luck would have it, we’d just been sent some indoor playthings by the kind folk at Learning Resources. They’d asked us to try out their Geosafari Jr Talking Microscope and Animal Eye Viewers. So, instead of sticking to our plans to enjoy the great outdoors (and getting drenched in the process), we decided to create a mini-beast haven in our own house.
Geosafari Jr Animal Eye Viewers
These eye viewers are striking, bold, sturdy and (as it turned out) lots of fun. They provoked much hilarity when almost 5-year-old Austin and 2-year-old Gwen played with them for the first time.
Tomfoolery aside, these eye viewers were a good way to help the children learn about how animals see the world (it turns out that I’m still learning myself. Whoever knew that sharks could see behind themselves??).
The insect eyes showed the world as a yellowed place, multiplied many times – just like a fly’s vision. The shark’s eyes turned things blue, and had small rear-view mirrors on each side of the mask, so if you gazed to the side, you could see behind you. The chameleon was perhaps the least impressive to use – the eyes swivelled independently, but you had to remove it from your face and turn them with your fingers to make it work – but, as you can see from these pictures, it looked pretty cool. That was one of the added bonuses of these masks – they’re bright and colourful enough to be an instant hit with little ones.
Learning Resources’ toys usually have plenty of value added in the way of factsheets and extra information. The Eye Viewers came with mini-booklets containing facts about each animal, and there was a link to download an Animal Eye Viewers Activity sheet with suggestions for fun ways to use the viewers – walking backwards round the house using the shark mask, for instance, which I tried to shrieks of ‘I want a go!’ from Austin and Gwen. We improvised a little too, playing a game where I tried to sneak up behind one of the little sharks, without them seeing me in the rear-view mirrors. And Austin even had a go at writing his name while peering through the insect mask.
These masks were a hit, and an enjoyable way to brighten up a dismal morning spent indoors. I’m sure they’ll be lots of fun to play with in the garden, too.
Geosafari Jr Talking Microscope
When Gwen was safely tucked up in bed for her nap, Austin and I took out the Talking Microscope for a play. It’s for children aged 5 and over, which seems just about right; it comes with a set of 12 slides featuring insects, which would be a bit too delicate for a very small child.
The animals encased in the slides are convincingly realistic; at first, I thought the mosquito was real…..
There are two settings on the microscope: ‘facts’ and ‘quiz’ (shown in the video below). After you’ve inserted the slide and tapped in a code, the microscope tells you several snippets of information for each slide. It would have been nice to hear a British accent rather than the ubiquitous American, but apart from that, I really couldn’t fault this toy.
Austin LOVED the microscope. He was enjoying discovering about insects so much that I grabbed the camera and took a short clip. If you watch till the end, you’ll see him beaming with delight at answering a question correctly. Very cute! (please bear in muind that this was a spontaneous capture, so I didn’t have a chance to stage the shot….or tidy up…..)
The Learning Resources website described the microscope as perfect for independent play, which was true. Austin’s not yet five, but he quickly picked up the knack of using it by himself. And, as well as helping him learn about insects (a particular obsession with little girls and boys of this age, in my experience), it tested his powers of recall, physical dexterity and letter recognition.
A good all-rounder, then. And, as you can see, the sun finally decided to come out and shine that afternoon. So off outside we went, to find some real-life bugs…..
Disclosure: we were sent a Talking Microscope and Animal Eye Viewers for the purpose of this review. But all views expressed are my own.Google+