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Mindware Q-BA-MAZE: Sparkle Builder Set

(Mindware $44.99)

Younger builders will be able to do this smaller Sparkle Butterfly kit. Unlike some of the more complex Q-Ba-Maze kits, there are fewer pieces and connections to make but plenty of satisfaction in making a marble run that really works. Step by step instructions call for "reading" the images and working in an orderly fashion. Designed in pink and sparkles to appeal to girls...we generally steer clear of gender specific toys, but if pink and sparkle will attract girls to this kind of building toy, we're okay with that. It's this kind of play that has long developed the kinds of science, math and spatial thinking that were more typically found in boys construction kits. Once they get the feel for how the cubes, rails, and exits work together, they can rebuild other mazes shown in the directions and those they can dream up. But keep in mind, the marbles in this kit are steel balls and small, so this is a toy that needs to be out of the reach of younger siblings. Marked 6 and up, but we believe sixes will need adult co-builders to learn how to read the instructions. We also think this construction set is like an elegant puzzle, something kids will do more than once and with greater ease on the second or third build. A good one to put away and pull out on a rainy day.



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