While in many ways, I think I do this whole “Mom” thing pretty well, I have to admit that I really don’t love to play toys with my kid. I’m always finding little excuses… I have to get my coffee, I have to do the dishes, I have to put in a load of laundry… to get out of being Red Skull to Cub’s Captain America. Cue the Mom Guilt! Now, I definitely think that parents should not be spending much energy entertaining their children: free, unstructured, independent play is the way to go. But there’s definitely value in playing together sometimes, and it sure helps a lot when we can play something that doesn’t drive me bonkers.
We discovered Magformers for the first time at one of the discovery tables at the Telus Spark Science Centre. Cub and I both enjoyed them, and I was confident a set of our own would facilitate our Mother-Son playtime.
What are Magformers?
Intelligent Magnetic Construction Set For Brain Development
MAGFORMERS are easy to use and never frustrating. The patented intelligently designed MAGFORMERS magnets are housed in colorful, high quality ABS plastic. They always attract and never repel, so the moment any two pieces touch they connect. High quality magnets that instantly connect are sure to spark curiosity and play time is creative, stimulating, and constructive. Building with MAGFORMERS engages mathematical and scientific thought, deductive reasoning, and requires use of spatial awareness. Manipulating the powerful, colorful MAGFORMERS magnets IS educational, but despite being an educational experience, play is magical and FUN! [Amazon.com]
For For All Ages (For real!)
My Dad was visiting when we received our kit, and he got as much of a kick out of it as his Grandson and his daughter did. Three generations of thumbs up!
The first thing I wanted to try building was a ball. I was pretty proud of myself:
Just follow the layout in the instructions… pull up….
The Challenger Kit also comes with wheels, so those were immediately a hit with Cub:
I am not going to lie: I enjoy building things with Magformers, and that means I don’t make up a bunch of excuses to avoid playing with Cub. He loves to play with his cars and action figures (which I hate), so I amuse myself by building “super jumps” and “prisons” for those toys, and Cub thinks everything I make is awesome. (I realize that won’t always be the case.)
Even though he’s below the age-range for this construction toy, he can still play with it on his own. Often times, we will build him a structure (he’s a fairly demanding architect), and then he’ll spend hours playing with it: In this case, Papa built Captain America a rocket ship.
I love that this is a toy that is only limited by your imagination, and Cub can basically use his Magformers with any of his other toys (his Thomas Trains, his Lego, his Hot Wheels).
While Cub still has trouble manipulating and building with Lego (and I already hate having Lego all over my house), Magformers are large, and they stick together thanks to the magic of magnets, so Cub can build things on his own without getting frustrated.
As someone who has a really hard time doing anything in mathematics that requires visualization of a 3D form, I can really see the value of playing early on with this kind of toy. In my former life as a teacher and tutor, I remember trying to help students find the surface area of pyramids or even cubes, and their inability to mentally “deconstruct” these shapes made it really tricky. I wish I’d had Magformers instead of just a pen and paper to show what a cube looks like if you lay it “flat.” Cub has always been fascinated by shapes (thanks, UmiZoomi!), so love that this toy is a way to expand on that interest and potentially teach him some of the spatial reasoning his mother so lacks!
The Challenger Set retails for around $200, but there are kits for as little as $20. Because I see this toy as something that he will not outgrow, just simply play with differently as he ages, the price tag for a large set seems more reasonable. It would be a great Christmas gift that won’t piss off the parents, that’s for sure! If I could change one thing about Magformers, I’d like to see them come in a nice storage box.
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