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Building kits are a great way for kids to develop important skills while having fun that doesn't include video games or television. Building activities encourage imaginative thinking and creatively while also teaching about materials and construction, developing problem solving techniques and improving hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills. They also teach your child the value of organization and neatness. Thats a lot of learning in one little box. You and your child will learn an amazing amount about each other and the world while you have fun building models.
Building kits are not just an activity for budding engineers. The planning, organization and problem solving skills developed while building models are directly useful in all walks of life. The practical skills learned regarding materials, use of tools, following written directions and spacial thinking are critical skills in fields as diverse as art and medicine as well as engineering and science. These skills are also pretty handy for any driver who's car breaks down in the middle of nowhere and any homeowner needing to deal with household maintenance.
We carry a number of different building systems so you can find the kit that best meets your child's skills and interests and your budget. As with most learning activities, you need to have a plan for introducing increasingly challenging lessons as your child progresses. That usually means getting the most advanced system you child can handle so they don't get bored too quickly. It also means upgrading to the next most complex system every year or two until your child graduates to "real" tools and materials.
Most building systems have introductory sets that include parts for a small number of models. These sets are a great way for you to see if your child can handle the system. Starter kits can get frustrating when you child is ready to start building his or her own designs because you will almost always be missing some critical part. You need to plan on purchasing one or more larger sets as your child learns the system and wants to build increasingly complex models.
Getting The Most From Your Building SetDon't buy a set that is too advanced for your child. While you do want to provide a challenge you don't want total frustration. Your child should be able to put simple configurations of parts together and take them apart with very little practice. If that is not possible for your child you should consider putting the set away for a while and trying something simpler.
Building is a family activity. While your child should be able to do almost all the assembly without help he or she will need lots of help in other ares such as design and problem solving. In general, you should try to help your child think about the problem rather than giving them "the" solution.
Keep your hands to yourself! While you should plan on spending lots of time with your builder you should generally keep your hands away from their model. If you think that you need to demonstrate a building technique consider doing that with separate parts rather than on their model. They won't really learn the technique until they apply it themselves. While joint building projects can be a lot of fun, you want to make sure that your child is the primary designer and builder most of the time. Use the proper terminology. Encourage your child to use correct, specific terminology when referring to kit parts. Saying "I need one of those yellow things" isn't very useful. It doesn't really help locate the correct part and it doesn't help develop mental skills. Saying "I need the three inch long by half inch wide by quarter inch tall yellow girder" helps find the correct part faster even though it takes longer to say. Over time it also improves your ability to estimate dimensions and helps you learn to think of specific design elements when thinking about new models. The more specifically you can think about something the more likely you will be able to actually build it.
The content on this page was updated on 11/25/2013