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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Holidays 101: #14- Beyond Building Blocks

Today I recommend cool options for  building for kids who already have the traditional wooden building blocks and are ready for a different kind of building...  each product with a key warning. 

1- Magnetix They come in all different size assortments. [17 pcs to 140 pcs!] The strong magnets allow kids to create shapes that can spin and twirl as well as stand or tower.  Start with a small set and if your child goes crazy for them, as one of my did, you may be adding to their collection literally for years!
Warning: Magnetix pieces are too small for toddlers so, if you have toddlers substitue  Jumbo Magneatos  which are a similar product but supersized so that swallowing is not a hazard.

2. A non-magnetic alternative is Zoobs.  These are snap together parts that work on a ball-joint principle.  Each kit comes with directions for assembling the zoobs into a variety of creatures [from turtles to chickens to raptors] and objects [chairs to wheelbarrows to helicopters].

Kids will create figures similar to animals and objects [ex cars] rather than buildings or geometric shapes.  The creations arms, legs, tails, etc. can be moved and shaped.  If you buy a more complex set, they can move on wheels or even be operated by remote control! [Sets for motorized cars, robots, etc.]

Warning! If you want to avoid frustration open the package before giving and when the kids are in bed  or at school, spend some time putting the parts together and taking them apart.  When they are brand new they can be very stiff and difficult for kids.
The time you spend breaking them in will pay off huge dividends when your kids open the gift and start to play. Once you have broken them in the kids will be less frustrated, will instantly adore them and will spend hours and hours making new creations and playing with them.

Note: The company also makes Zoob Jr. for younger kids with softer pieces. I have not tried the Zoob Jr set myself but the idea makes sense.

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