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It’s a bug’s life: Learning Resources review

Learning Resources

The other day, a friend was telling me she’s become afraid to look at her facebook news feed, because of all the spider pictures appearing on it. There are tons. Now we’re back to school and the weather’s turned colder, huge creepy crawlies have been edging their way into our homes. And those of us who like to share, have been busily snapping away, so we can proudly display our leggy new household visitors.

My friend’s clearly not a fan of spiders, but in our house, we do have a couple of little bug fans. My four- and two-year-old are fascinated by anything that creeps, crawls, or slithers. So we were pleased when Learning Resources asked us to review some bug-related educational toys: the Buggy Balance measurement set, Shapes Don’t Bug Me geometry set, and Primary Science Discovery Lab.

Learning Resources

My son has just started school, so he’s at the ‘learning through play’ stage of the national curriculum. These kits, with their bright colours and playful, creepy-crawlie theme, were a good example of toys that taught him lessons, without his even realising.

Learning Resources

The buggy balance kit featured a load of vibrantly coloured, slightly squidgy caterpillars and leaves; and a set of scales.

Learning Resources

The first thing that Austin did – without my even having to prompt him – was arrange the bugs and foliage according to colour and size. This was something that the accompanying leaflet suggested parents or teachers should encourage the children to do; the fact that Austin did it without needing to be told, indicated that the toy was pitched correctly. Children of this age (5-9) love counting, sorting and arranging.

Austin then had fun experimenting by putting the different-sized bugs on either side of the scales, to see how many smaller critters he’d need to tip the balance against a large caterpillar.

Learning Resources

Learning Resources

Learning Resources

Learning Resources

Learning Resources

The Buggy Balance was easy for Austin to use independently; once I’d set it up, he played quite happily with the bugs for a good twenty minutes. It’s not easy to find a toy that captures his interest this thoroughly (apart from good old Lego, of course!).

He also quickly got stuck into the ‘Shapes Don’t Bug Me’ geometry set.

Learning Resources

This was a straightforward idea: a pile of jewel-bright plastic shapes, and cards with different pictures, onto which a  5-9 year old would arrange the pieces of perspex.

Learning Resources

The cards all featured insects, and varied in their levels of difficulty. Although Austin wasn’t quite as excited by this set as he had been by the buggy balance kit (the idea of fitting shapes onto pictures was already familiar to him, from the school nursery), this was the sort of toy I’m sure I’ll be able to bring out every fortnight or so, over and over again. I’m sure it will hold my son’s interest and help develop his geometry skills for a number of years.

Learning Resources

My son and daughter were both thrilled about the Discovery Lab, with its built-in, removable gloves. It’s designed to allow children to play with things that parents and teachers would rather they didn’t handle.

The leaflet suggested turning it into a home for worms, so that’s what we decided to do. Not without a quick try of one of the other suggested uses, though: making a load of coloured slime from cornflour and food dye….

Learning Resources

Once we’d thoroughly cleaned out the Discovery Lab, we put damp newspaper, some cardboard, soil and a few eggshells into the Lab.

Learning Resources

Both Austin and Gwen enjoyed squidging the contents of the Lab (although Gwen’s two-and-a-half year old hands were a bit small for the gloves. The lab is for ages three and over).

Learning Resources

We bought some red worms from the local pet shop.

worms

Then, the exciting bit. The worms were released into their new home. We removed the gloves, edged the Lab with foil to keep out the light (leaving the air holes clear, of course), and placed it in the garden shed.

Learning Resources

The worms make a great, low-maintenance pet. And, what’s more, when our slithery friends have made a meal of all that newspaper, and the scraps of food we’re slowly adding, we can put the contents of the Lab onto the garden, to help it grow.

Building a home for worms in the Discovery Lab was a good way to teach the children more about nature. And my friend can rest easy: there was absolutely no need for a single facebook spider.

If you liked the look of these, why not check out my review of the Learning Resources Geosafari Jr Talking Microscope and Animal Eye Viewers; or their Primary Science Lab Set and Metal Detector

Disclosure: we were sent the Discovery Lab, Buggy Balance and Shapes Don’t Bug Me sets for the purpose of this review. But all views are my own.

12 Comments

  • nessjibberjabberuk
    September 30, 2014 at 8:23 am

    Some great kits here. The buggy balance would come in useful for plenty of other activities as well.

    Reply
  • you baby me mummy
    September 30, 2014 at 11:58 am

    They look like they had such a blast! Great review x

    Reply
  • Shell Louise
    September 30, 2014 at 1:14 pm

    Ella would absolutely love this. She got a mini bug kit for her birthday and delighted in making us all shudder as she bought one after another of bugs into the house!

    Reply
  • agatapokutycka
    September 30, 2014 at 5:43 pm

    I know that boys would love it but I am not sure I could stand having worms as “pets”

    Reply
  • Polly
    October 1, 2014 at 2:19 pm

    these look fantastic! might have to invest in them all x

    Reply
  • Rachel
    October 2, 2014 at 10:15 am

    I am jealous of the worms, ive always wanted a wormery x

    Reply
  • Bek
    October 2, 2014 at 11:45 am

    I really like the look of all of these. Both my son and daughter are a bit scared of creepy crawlies so this could help them overcome their fear. Great review!

    Reply
  • VaiChin @RamblingThroughParenthood
    October 2, 2014 at 1:43 pm

    These all look great. I know J would love them all.

    Reply
  • Kara
    October 3, 2014 at 6:01 am

    Such a great idea – not sure I would want the wormery in the house though

    Reply
  • Sara
    October 3, 2014 at 8:04 am

    Oh man, I used to LOVE the christmas cracker ‘put the shape together’ puzzles, this looks like so much fun! (and I’m 22, haha!)

    Sara | This Girl Loves

    Reply
  • Globalmouse
    October 5, 2014 at 7:39 pm

    I love the buggy balance set, really sweet and my 3 year old would adore it.

    Reply
  • Sarah Bailey
    October 6, 2014 at 12:36 am

    The discovery lab looks so cool! I could imagine having loads of fun with that when I was a child. x

    Reply

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