Fun With Science
Keeping Curiosity Alive and Well
Tags: science toys, science books, science videos
Posted: 2012-01-10 11:45:22 By: Joanne Oppenheim

 

Cooking with kids, going for hikes and stopping to explore what is under a rock, or up in a tree are some of the ways you can keep supporting their natural interest in how things work. You can also encourage further investigations by choosing toys that invite experimentation. Here are some good science toys, videos and books that will do just that.

 

 


2010 Award
Learning Resources Primary Science Set
(Learning Resources $29.99 Score: )

A 12 piece set, all chunky but realistic and safe for kids. There are plastic beakers, test tubes, tweezers, magnifier, protective goggles, eye dropper and 10 activity cards. These experiment cards have one side that shows what you need; the other side tells you what to do. An adult is needed to read. Many items needed such as vinegar, raisins, baking soda, seeds, and other items are not in the set. But these are age appropriate experiments in color mixing, sprouting seeds, bugs, make a volcanoóto name just a few. Marked 4 & up, but this will be a set you can use with 1st and 2nd graders.

The company has signed a verification form complying with our safety requirements. We did not independently test this toy in a lab.

Our tester sent these comments:
"The kids loved the idea of the kit and were excited to conduct the experiments. The chunky size beakers and test tubes were fun and they liked the laminated cards with the experiments. The downside was that several of the experiments required materials not included in the kit (which is fine as long as you know it is not a self-contained activity going in) - things that might not be on-hand in the average home, like seeds for planting, bugs for examining, food coloring, etc. The activities that we did went over really well and got them thinking. The only other comment is that the tweezers are really pretty useless. They are made the right size for preschoolers, but they really don't grasp anything and are hard to maneuver - both for kids and adults."

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2010. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

 


 

 


2010 Award
Backyard Safari Mega Magnifier
(Summit Inc. $14.99 Score: )

Talk about big - here's a super 13 X 10 inch magnifier with hand grips on each side. Made of plastic, this is fun for indoors and out - in fact it floats! Fun for wide close up views of bugs, plants, feathers, fabrics, whatever. A warning reminds parents that magnifiers left in direct sun can cause fires, so this is a piece of science equipment that you need to keep track of. 5 & up.

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2010. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

 


 

 


2010 Award
Nature Series: Science on a Tracking Expedition
(The Young Scientists Club $32 Score: )

We received several new science kits this year from The Young Scientists Club.  This animal tracking set rated the best with all of our testers. This kit came with enough plaster mix to make all of the animal tracks with the enclosed casts.  It also comes with information about the animals. Our testers also gave high markes to the stickers and poster set included in this kits.  Unfortunately, they did not have the same success with the solar kit. The solar panel/motor did not function--we had the same problem when we first tested this kit in house. We thought perhaps we had gotten a dud--but their review confirms the problem - which is too bad since this kit would otherwise be great fun.  The Back in Time with Dinosaurs Kit was initially received well--but it doesn't come with as much plaster as the animal tracks kit--so repeats of making the dinosaur fossils was not possible.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years, Tweens. Award Year: 2010. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

 


 

 


2010 Award
Creativity for Kids Mini Flower Press and Nature Cards
(Creativity for Kids $14.99 Score: )

A small 4" by 4" flower press is just the right size for pressing single flowerheads, leaves, and seed pods. The kit includes directions, press, watercolors, glue, mini marker, craft tweezers, and colorful mini cards, envelopes, book marks, and gift tags for making and using these treasures from nature to make small useful creations as gifts or gift enclosures. A project that blends science with an artistic twist. 6 & up. The company has signed a verification form complying with our safety requirements.   We did not independently test this toy in a lab.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2010. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

 


 

 


2010 Award
Strobotop Lightphase Animator
(Eye Think $24.95 Score: )

An interesting introduction to the art of 'moving pictures.'  It comes with a hand-powered spinning top with 18 disks that have images on them. Spin the top and then point the LightPhaser (a strob like light) at the images and they become an animated movie. Images of runners, animals leaping, cats , bugs, faces and others come to life. The hand held light only works when it is targeted at the disk, not a child's eyes. There are 18 disks and you can purchase an extra pack of images with another 18 disks. Kids can color in some of the black and white drawings or they might also be inspired to create their own drawings to make original animations. 6 & up.  The company has signed a verification form complying with our safety requirements. We did not independently test this toy in a lab.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years, Tweens. Award Year: 2010. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

 


 

 


2010 Award
Backyard Safari Cargo Vest
(Summit Inc. $19.99 Score: )

Nothing like going on a backyard safari dressed for the job at hand. Tuck your gear into the many pockets, clip more gear onto the Six-D rings. Kids can zip their binoculars into the big pocket and there's a chest pocket for field guides and maps. The back of the vest has more mesh pockets and adjustable straps that makes this a one size fits all piece of gear.

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The company has signed a verification form complying with our safety requirements. We did not independently test this toy in a lab.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2010. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

 


 

 


2010 Award
Insect Lore Creature Peeper
(Insect Lore $10.75 Score: )

A well-designed bug viewer that allows kids to see bugs from top or side. It can be used for viewing tadpoles or small fish, as well, for a short time, since it is water tight. Designed to be escape proof, it is still suggested that kids keep their creatures just for a short time and then, let them go. 4 & up.

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The company has signed a verification form complying with our safety requirements. We did not independently test this toy in a lab.

 

Age: Preschool, Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2010. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

 


 

 


2010 Award
eeBoo Wild Animal Mother and Baby Puzzleboard
(Saxton Freymann, eeBoo $8 Score: )

A nine piece puzzle board with handsome parent animals on the top that pop out to reveal the baby animal underneath. This is done on sturdy cardboard. You cannot lift the pieces from the front, but there are finger holes to push them out. Bold and easy to identify illustrations are by Saxton Freymann. A good choice for building language as well as science concepts. Also, charming, Mothers and Babies Learning Puzzle  done the same way, with mama animals and babies when you lft out the puzzle pieces. This one is done with illustrations of more familiar farm animals: pig and piglet, sheep and lamb, cow and calf, cat and kitten, etc.

The company has signed a verification form complying with our safety requirements. We did not independently test this toy in a lab.

Age: . Award Year: 2010.

 


 

 


2010 Award
Mystery in the Forest Write Me a Story
(eeBoo $10.99 Score: )

One of a series of books designed to encourage kids to write or dictate original stories. There are forest related stickers in this one, blank spaces for original art and lines for writing the story on. They say 3 & up - we'd say more like 5-8.There are also matching games and story telling cards in this Mystery in the Forest line that use the same overall theme that can help expand children's vocabulary and recognition of forest creatures. Normal 0 0 1 19 109 1 1 133 11.1287 0 0 0

The company has signed a verification form complying with our safety requirements. We did not independently test this toy in a lab.

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2010. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

 

Videos

 

 


2009 Award
Ocean Life, Book & DVD
(by Cynthia Stierie/ photos Annie Crawley, Reader's Digest Children's Books $17.99 Score: )

Handsome still photos are used to illustrate this big book with factoids that school aged kid will pour over. But it's the DVD with live footage of life under the water that sets this apart. Using an alphabet format this is a little less fluid than Annie Crawley's other DVDís such as Who Lives in the Sea?, What Makes a Fish a Fish?, or Dive into Diversity. That said, lots of kids like to be able to hold a book in their hands and look at the pictures for as long as they wish, rather than the fleeting images on a video.

 

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2009. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

 


 

 


2009 Award
Crocodile Safari
(by Jim Arnosky, Scholastic $22.99 Score: )

A handsome DVD accompanies Jim Arnoskyís newest book about crocodiles. His illustrations take readers to the Florida mangroves where crocodiles live with so many other wild creatures. Itís a safari adventure as this gifted artist and naturalist explains the difference between alligators and crocs found deep in the Everglades. Good as the book is, the DVD that comes with it is not just good footage, it includes Arnosky doing a drawing of the setting from simple lines to shading that gets better with each moment. 7 & up.

 

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2009. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

 

Books

 

 


2010 Award
I Feel Better with a Frog in My Throat
(by Carlyn Beccia, Houghton Mifflin $17 Score: )

Kids of a certain age love being grossed out and this is one of the best of that genre because it isn't merely yucky, it is full of fascinating information about old and gross sounding cures that have been used through the ages. It is set up in a true false format asking readers to speculate on the effectiveness of rubbing moldy bread on your leg, putting mustard on your head or tying earthworms around your neck. The art is as gross out as the ideas of using mummy powder or a dead manís skull or maggots to cure what ails you. A thought provoking book that combines science and history in a picturebook for older readers. 7 & up.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2010. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

 


 

 


2010 Award
Pierre the Penguin, A True Story
(Sleeping Bear Press $15.95 Score: )

Like all penguins, Pierre began to molt--he dropped his feathers. Unlike most penguins, Pierre's feathers did not grow back. Poor Pierre was too cold to swim and too strange looking to other penguins. Living at the California Academy of Science, a biologist came up with the notion of making a wet suit for Pierre. Happily the experiment worked and gradually Pierre grew his feathers back! Based on events in a real penguin's life, this creative biologist's actions reinforce the notion that there can be positive outcomes to seemingly hopeless experiences. A science book with a very human touch at its heart! 5 & up.

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2010. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

 


 

 


2010 Award
Summer Birds, The Butterflies of Maria Merian
(by Margarita Engle/ illus. Julie Paschkis, , Henry Holt $16.99 Score: )

Few books tell young readers about women scientists. This is the exception. In Medieval times people believed insects came from the mud and were evil. Maria, a girl of 13 did not agree. She watched how the "summer birds" changed from caterpillars to cocoon to beautiful butterflies. She watched and painted and studied the way they changed. Thought the story is told in the present tense, it clearly is set in an earlier time that will capture the imagination of young children who typically have a budding fascination with the natural world of bugs. 5-8.

Age: . Award Year: 2010. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

 


 

 


2010 Award
Bones, Skeletons and How They Work
(by Steve Jenkins, Scholastic $16.99 Score: )

A fascinating book that compares the bones of humans with those in the animal kingdom. It also looks at the role bones play in protecting us, keeping us upright and even repairing themselves. Illustrated with cut paper collages, this is a Science book that will excite and inform young readers. A glossary adds detailed information to the body of the book, for those who want more. This is young science as it should be--lively and lucid.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2010. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

 


 

 


2010 Award
About Raptors
(by Cathryn Sill/ illus. by John Sill, Peachtree $16.95 Score: )

A young science book that explains clearly that raptors are birds of prey and what characteristics they share. The stunning paintings add artistic quality to a book for young readers. The text is not complicated and it is followed with a glossary with more information about each of the birds. 6 & up.

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2010. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

 

 
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