Kids First Robot Safari
Thames and Kosmos robot kits offer STEM-related play experiences in several age ranges. Robot Safari is aimed at younger children (ages 5-7), and the instructions center around a 32-page story that motivates the building of each of the eight animal models: polar bear, cat, narwhal, crab, fox, baby llama, unicorn, and sea otter.
The snap together construction and picture-based assembly directions will be familiar to children and adults. Thames and Kosmos plastic parts fit together tightly, a quality important for models that move but one that can be a challenge for younger children. Smartly, Robot Safari does include a lever tool that is very helpful when taking apart the models’ components.
The box lists four development objectives that are helped by the kit: fine motor, mechanical, visual-spatial, and reasoning. Assembling the robots will certainly contribute to fine motor and visual spatial development as some of the parts are small and many look alike. The child will need to identify parts by shape and number of holes. Understanding the intended age group, Robot Safari does not explain the science behind the robots. In fact, the instruction guide encourages adult participation to make the most of the mechanical and reasoning learning opportunities. Our experience called for discussing how the spinning gears translate to the movement of each robot. We first asked, “how do the gears on the bear robots sides make its legs move?” And “are these legs moving too fast?”
Robot Safari will encourage long-term play for certain children. Some may be reluctant to take apart the first robot model to free up the parts needed to make the second. Others may relish the challenge of building each of the eight models and making some of their own design.
John Green ©2019 Parents’ Choice
John Green is an economist in Washington DC and father of three. He has a PhD in economics from the University of Pennsylvania.