To make a long story short: I love the idea of GoldieBlox but was terribly disappointed in the execution. For a list of toys and games I’d recommend instead, skip to the bottom of this post.
Like every one else on the internet, I’d heard the buzz about start-up darling GoldieBlox (if nothing else, you probably saw the Super Bowl commercial), but hadn’t bothered to order a kit for my girls. But last month I saw the kits in person at a local toy store and picked one up.
Sarah, my 9-year-old, wanted to rip into the box from the moment she saw it. Lucy, age 6, was less enthusiastic. I was surprised that Silas (age 4) wanted to play, but he did.
The GoldieBlox construction sets are story-driven: the box contained a storybook and a project. The premise here: Goldie needs to devise a way to get her dirty dog clean in time for the carnival, and solves the problem with this dunk tank contraption.
Sarah did not want any help with the project. She and Silas read the story, followed the directions, and engineered their dunk tank.
The problem? It didn’t work.
Sarah checked and re-checked her work (and I tried to subtly check it, too). She’d done everything right. But the construction was, by design, flimsy. It just didn’t work like it was supposed to work.
My take: If you want to build girls’ confidence in engineering skills, maybe you should design a kit that does what it’s supposed to do, eh?
Sarah’s (spontaneous, 100% unprompted) take: Mom: do NOT recommend GoldieBlox on your blog. It’s way too frustrating and doesn’t do what it’s supposed to do.
GoldieBlox has clearly captured the zeitgeist with their toys, and I’m hopeful for their future products. But I’d wait for those future products instead of buying up their current offerings.
If you want great toys for your future innovators (of either gender), try these instead:
• The Gears Gears Gears set from Learning Resources is highly versatile and fun (and educational) for a wide age range. $25.
• We love our Quadrilla marble railway (about $70-$100)—but there are plenty of similar, less-expensive options.
• Snap Circuits Jr is a wonderful introduction to electronics (and the science behind it) for 7-15 year olds (or even younger, with grown-up help). $22.
• It’s hard to beat a classic. Fun fact: LEGO says girls tend to like the architecture sets more than, say, Ninjago, so try this Creator treehouse set. ($30.) For architecturally-minded kids who have proven their love of LEGOs will last, the super-cool architecture studio could be a worthwhile investment. (Emphasis on investment: it’s $200+.)
• Of course I’m putting some books on the list. The Everything Kids’ Science Experiments Book: Boil Ice, Float Water, Measure Gravity-Challenge the World Around You! delivers on it’s science-y promises. $7.
• We’re fans of the Draw 50 series around here, especially Draw 50 Buildings and Other Structures. Drawing is a required skill for many STEM pursuits, so start them young (and start them with architecture). $9.
• I also like the sound of Groovy Lab in a Box (formerly Einstein in a Box), a subscription focused on STEM experiment for ages 8+, but haven’t tried them … yet.
My kids don’t know it yet, but fooling around with circuits and science projects is high on our family to-do list this summer. hoping to spend lots of time exploring these kinds of toys and activities during our summer break.
Share your favorite toys for young innovators in comments. If you’ve tried GoldieBlox, I’d love to hear if you had a better experience than I did.
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