Gift Guide Department
When your kids kids were little you probably played with them all the time ... teaching them how to follow a finger, how to walk, how to talk and lots of other essential skills. With little kids playing is almost always intertwined with learning. That shouldn't stop as kids get older. Kids like to be challenged and solve problems. That's why they like video games, until the day they "beat the game" and then want to head down to the mall for the latest hot title.
Here at Hobby Engineering we think that building is an essential skill for everyone. It teaches us subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) lessons about the physical world that aren't taught in science class. Building also helps develop (or maintain) fine motor skills and logical thought processes. Building teaches important lessons about life such as how to do research and experimentation, how to manage complex tasks, how to deal with frustration and how to ask for help. It also helps teach important lessons about the value of labor and the process of producing goods: "no that great video game or MP3 player didn't magically appear on the store shelf overnight." I hope you weren't thinking that we "just" sold toys. Of course our products can be a lot of fun too -- otherwise they wouldn't get used.
Things to keep in mind when buying our products:
- Nothing we sell works ... until the builder reads the instructions, thinks about a plan and does the work of building. In some ways giving our products is like giving away a job. If the receiver likes the job its a great opportunity, If they don't like the job its just ... well ... work. With younger kids this can be a great surprise gift that opens their mind to new opportunities. Older kids and adults are less responsive to surprise job assignments so you need to make sure that the potential builder has an appropriate level of interest and/or someone to provide encouragement and other needed help.
- While we have organized the gift guide by age, you also need to consider the builders existing skills, interests and character. A high school student who has never built anything might be better off starting with our one of our middle school products to develop basic tool and assembly skills. Some middle school kids would rather spend a year or two of frustration working on one of our most advanced kits than breezing through a more age appropriate product. A professional engineer who doesn't want to think about "serious" projects at the end of a long week might get a bang out of putting one of our kid projects together and then proudly put it on his or her desk as a conversation starter.
- Building activities need to be challenging or they become boring. Some families buy more and more of the same kind of building set until their kids stop using them and then think that the kids have "outgrown" building sets. More often they sit in the closet because the kids have become tired of building with the same old shapes. No matter how many boxes of bricks you buy they are still just bricks and can only be formed into certain shapes. Its a better idea to give the kids different kinds of building sets so they can explore different shapes and materials and even build using combinations of products.