Book Review, Math and Numbers, STEM Resources

Reading ‘STEMs’ Learning – Danica McKellar Book Review

DISCLAIMER: I am an Amazon Associate and may earn from qualifying purchases made from the links in this post at no additional cost to you.

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Photo courtesy The Wall Street Journal

Who remembers Winnie Cooper from the show ‘The Wonder Years’? The actress, known as Danica McKellar, is now (among other roles) an acclaimed mathematics author. She received her bachelors degree in mathematics at UCLA and is a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) advocate.

In an interview with USA Today, Ms. McKellar stated that, “I was a total STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) kid from the time I was born. I can’t ever remember a time that I didn’t want to not only learn, but be challenged. I think that’s why I love math; it challenges my brain.”

In many of her books it seems that she specifically targets young girls as her audience. In interviews I’ve read, she said she didn’t feel she ‘looked the part’ of a typical math student and wants to change that perception for the future generations.

We personally own three of her math picture books in our home – all I will review below. Again, I’ll suggest either to BUY IT, BORROW IT or SKIP IT.

GOODNIGHT, NUMBERS – BUY IT!

This book is a New York Times Best Seller and it is probably my favorite of the three that we have. Most of the reading in our house happens at bedtime, so this book naturally fits in with the bedtime theme. This book is intended for toddlers and preschoolers.

The rhymes in this book are appealing and unique. The story follows a toddler and adult through various areas of the home counting and getting ready for bed. There a multiple examples in the illustrations on each page of the represented number and the lessons are also relatable to everyday situations like, there are 7 days in a whole week.

At the end of the book, there is a letter from the author to parents. She provides other great ideas and examples of easy ways to introduce counting and numbers to young children and suggestions on how to read the book to your child. We read this book so often, that I would recommend buying it for your preschooler or soon to be preschooler. You won’t be disappointed.

TEN MAGIC BUTTERFLIES BUY IT!

If you have a child that loves fairies and enchanted stories, this picture book is perfect. First off, the illustrations in this book are beautiful. Again, McKellar sneaks in counting, addition and subtraction in an innovative and fun way to keep your child’s attention with rhymes and images. This is also a great bedtime book, as it ends with ‘sleep tight’!

This book is a wonderful introduction to math because it starts with low numbers (only up to ten). My daughter learned all the various combinations of numbers that add up to 10 and she’s pretty good for her age at completing simple math problems. She also views math as fun! I credit books like this for that! This book is a definite buy in my opinion, especially for young girls.

BATHTIME MATHTIMEBUY IT OR BORROW IT!

I struggled with my suggestion to buy or borrow this book. While I like the innovative spirit of this book, I personally enjoyed the first two stories above more than this one. BUT, if you have a child with a short attention span, I do think that this book would be better choice than the first two above. It is a very short book.

This book is based on a young boy in the bath tub and all the ways in which the family counts during his bath time ritual. It’s illustrations include actual math calculations which help your child get familiar with them. My suggestion would be to borrow this book first, then make a decision on if it is worth the purchase for your child.

Have you read or own any of these books? What are you thoughts and opinions of these stories?

Did you know that Danica McKellar was a math author? What other Danica McKellar math books do you own? Would you recommend them?

Do you have any other books you’d like me to review? Let me know at momgineeringthefuture@gmail.com.

As always, all opinions are 100% my own. Check out my other STEM book reviews here!

Cincinnati Museum Center, Dinosaurs, Experiments, Holiday, Museums, Nature, STEM Resources

The Cincinnati Museum Center has re-opened!

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An inside look of the front of the Cincinnati Museum Center.

When I walked inside the newly preserved Cincinnati Museum Center (CMC, previously Union Terminal), the dome inside literally took my breath away. I grew up in this city. I walked through these doors NUMOROUS times in my lifetime but I had never seen it look this beautiful.

After more than two years of the main building being closed to the public for historical restoration and preservation, it recently reopened (in November 2018) and I got my first glimpse inside over the Thanksgiving holiday.

The CMC houses the Museum of Natural History and Science, the Cincinnati History Museum, the Robert D. Lindner Family OMNIMAX theater, the Duke Energy Children’s Museum, as well as numerous other special exhibits.

Historical Significance

Every city has at least one old building that serves some historical, architectural and engineering significance to its city. This building is one of those for Cincinnati. Union Terminal was built and dedicated in 1933. It was opened as a train station to unite all the railroads to one location in Cincinnati. It is still the largest half dome structure in the western hemisphere and if you walk inside, your breath will be taken away at its beauty. It has absolutely stunning art deco architectural design, which includes several original large glass tile mosaics by Winold Reiss (seen in the photos below), which were carefully and intricately cleaned to bring out the marvelous details in the pieces.

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Checking out an old style 1930s telephone booth.

The amount of architecture and engineering used to build and restore this building over its 85 years is just phenomenal. Our family spent so much time just exploring and marveling at the building itself – its engineering design and layout as well as it’s art deco style.

It was almost demolished many times, in fact, (unfortunately) its concourse was demolished years ago.

Historical Restoration and Reopening

The restoration was a $225 million project that was primarily funded by local tax payers over the course of a 5 year levy and additional funding was provided by federal and state historical tax credits as well as a capital grant from the state of Ohio. It was completed on budget.

Personal Connection

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Photo of my Grandfather from serving in WWII.

This particular building also has many personal connections to me and my family. My great grandfather worked on the railroads and took my grandmother to the station many times as a young girl. My grandfather walked through the doors as young teen to head off to fight in the Air Force in WWII and also returned to this station after the war. (I couldn’t help but imagine myself in his shoes as a young soldier walking through the doors to and from a war that is still marked as the biggest event in human history.)

One of my uncles helped preserve the beautiful glass tile mosaics that were moved from the demolished concourse to the Cincinnati Northern Kentucky Airport. My parents came to the terminal for field trips as children when it was still a train station, converted to a science center, a shopping plaza and then took my brother and I to the Cincinnati Museum Center once it opened in the 1990s. I made many trips there as a child to view the exhibits and OMNIMAX films with my family and for school field trips. I also used to go downtown every year as a child to see the Duke Energy Holiday Train display which is now in the museum for Holiday Junction. This display has been part of Cincinnati since 1946!

This place holds a special place in my heart with countless happy memories from childhood and its historical connection to my family.

The Museum of Natural History and Science: Newly Opened Dinosaur Hall

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The signs above the entrance to the Museum of Natural History and Science at the Cincinnati Museum Center.

The Museum of Natural History and Science reopened with a new Dinosaur Hall. It is located to the right of the main doors as you walk into the Museum Center. (It still has the original sign a top the doors indicating the location for incoming taxis and motor coaches!) As we walked through the doors, we were greeted by 6 ginormous dinosaur specimens!

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Standing next to a dinosaur leg.

My three year old daughter was absolutely amazed by their size. She (and I) gained a better appreciation for paleontologists and the scientific work that they perform. We loved using the microscopes to look at some of the prehistoric pieces up close. The special effects inside the hall were so fun! It made it feel like we were truly walking among the dinosaurs in the museum!

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Interactive globe

This exciting interactive globe allows guests to see how the Earth transformed from prehistoric ages until now! There is a tiny star on it that represents Cincinnati. Did you know that Cincinnati was located on a coast at one time?

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Virtual reality experience

While we were there, I decided to test out the Jurassic Flight Virtual Reality Experience where I was transformed into a Pterodactyl and glided across prehistoric landscapes. It was SO much fun and a little ptero-ffying at times!! This part of the exhibit is an extra cost to visitors (it cost $6 for me as a non-member) and you must be at least 58 inches tall. It was worth it! Afterwards, I pointed out to my daughter that virtual reality systems are made by many different scientists!

The Cincinnati History Museum: Re-imagined Public Landing

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The main entrance of the Cincinnati History Museum also still has the original Union Terminal signs on top the doors indicating the location for outgoing taxis and motor coaches!
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Queen of the West boat we boarded.

The Cincinnati History Museum has reopened with one of it’s original exhibits – the reimagined Public Landing. Public Landing is a recreation of 1850s Cincinnati Public Landing. We walked along the city cobbled streets, visited several makeshift shops and storefronts including an old style photography studio where we were able to take a family photo.

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1850 Cincinnati

We walked across the gang plank aboard the “Queen of the West”. Inside we learned about how steam boats pushed across the Ohio river, what it was like to be a guest on the boat and how the boat business affected the local Cincinnati economy at that time.

Holiday Junction

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Lego Wonderland

Another exhibit, Holiday Junction, which is open for the holidays was a really fun place for the kids to go and explore.

We first walked through the new William L. Mallory, Sr. exhibition gallery which currently has a winter wonderland LEGO gallery on display. My three year old particularly loved the Disney themed LEGO displays and my one year old loved the LEGO train that ran through the middle of the exhibit hall.

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My daughter almost quite literally walked through a winter wonderland, watched Thomas and friends train layout, built a snowman under the Northern Lights and rode a toddler sized train. To build the snowman, my girls were able to select various snowman pieces (eyes, various fruits / vegetables for noses, hats, scarf, mouth, coal buttons, etc.) and they magnetically connected them to the life sized snowman.

Below you will see the two snowmen they created… The first snowman they made was pretty fun and goofy. They loved sticking eyes all over the snowman to make him look silly and finished off his look with a banana on his head!!

We probably spent 20 minutes in this area alone because they were having so much fun! This really brought out their creative side and they had a small lesson in magnetism (which I plan to cover as a future topic)! The magnetic pieces only ‘stuck’ to certain areas of the snowman, so we had a great talk about why that was happening.

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Next, we viewed the Duke Energy Holiday Trains. Upon entering, this space has a dramatic birds eye view of the entire space (which is ginormous!). My photo doesn’t even do it justice!

There are literally hundreds of trains flying around on tracks through a historic layout of Cincinnati. There are also trains in display cases along the walls for guests to view up close. This area was a dream for my three year old who is completely mesmerized by trains right now. She was so excited to name the parts of the trains that she recognized and loved telling us when one was zipping down the track nearby!

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My daughters also loved being able to “make their own storybook”. Children are able to select magnetic words and photos and place them on a giant storybook to make their own story.

Again, this was wonderful for building creativity and learning a bit more about magnetism.

The Duke Energy Children’s Museum

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By the time we reached the Children’s Museum, we were tired. Although we didn’t check out this space for long, we have spent hours here in past visits. It definitely receives my STEM stamp of approval and my kids thumbs up for fun!

Kids can learn about complex machines in Energy Zone, experiment with water, play pretend careers in several areas (veterinary, mechanic, etc.), climb and explore the wilderness, practice being a dentist and explore a giant set of teeth, etc. They also have a nature trading post where kids can bring in objects they’ve found outside and explain what they’ve learned about it for points. Those points can be used to select some type of scientific item for them to take home like a magnifying glass, rocks, etc.

Lunch at the Museum

We ate lunch at the museum and we were highly impressed by the cleanliness and the delicious, healthy and allergy friendly food options! If you are gluten free or have nut allergy, they definitely have you covered!

This was the lunch I shared with my husband – turkey avocado sandwich (optional gluten free bread) with tater tots! It was served on a real ceramic plate too. And my daughters had macaroni and cheese with goldfish crackers and applesauce.

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The photo on the left is the dining room we ate in. It was so clean and well staffed. It had beautiful art deco design and murals on the walls. Very 1930s style for sure.

The museum is reimagining the exhibit spaces and experiences for guests and reopening the new permanent exhibits and galleries in phases. We viewed all of the new permanent exhibits and galleries that were available at the time of our visit.

We are greatly looking forward to the next phases opening up at the museum and can not wait to return!

Please follow the Cincinnati Museum Center @cincymuseum on social media (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) to stay up-to-date on the latest news and permanent exhibits being opened to the public.

Additional Areas Explored

I posted additional photos from the museum that we checked out in the bottom of this post – the Rookwood Ice Cream Parlor, a Newsreel theater, more dining rooms, bulletin board, waiting area, STEM classrooms and more photos of the dome and outside. There is so much more to explore in this building than what we were able to see during our visit. We can’t wait to get back to explore more!

You can get more information on it’s history and restoration from this documentary recently broadcast by Cincinnati’s local WCPO news station.

DISCLAIMER: I received 4 complimentary passes to the Cincinnati Museum Holiday Junction, Museum of Natural History and Science, the Cincinnati History Museum and the Duke Energy Children’s Museum on the day of our visit. I was asked to help promote the updates we enjoyed at the museum on my social media pages and my blog. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.

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Animals, Experiments, Great Things about Space, Holiday, Math and Numbers, Nature, STEM Resources, STEM toys

My Complete List of STEM Buys for Ages 0-12 (updated 11/28/2018)

DISCLAIMER: I am an Amazon Associate and may earn from qualifying purchases made from the links above at no additional cost to you.

To help you through the holidays, I’ve listed out some of my favorite STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) buys for kids 12 and under.

Books are great gifts for the holiday, if you haven’t checked out my previous book reviews then please check them out here.

Age 0-1 years:

In this age group, I’d recommend toys that encourage their already growing interest of the world around them without being too stimulating. Babies in this age group are typically learning through their senses, gaining increased mobility and trying to perfect gross motor skills. I selected toys that I felt were good for further developing those skills and interests. These can help build the foundation of learning and exploration.

I bought this Touch and Feel: Farm (Touch & Feel) when my daughter was 6 months old and she still loves it at 16 months old! Early on, it encouraged her to explore her senses and work on gross motor skills. Now it is helping her develop language and recognize some animals that live at a local educational farm near us (we bring this book with us when we visit).

Melissa & Doug Deluxe Pound and Roll Wooden Tower Toy With HammerThis Melissa & Doug Deluxe Pound and Roll Wooden Tower Toy With Hammer was a popular toy for both of my children under the age of one. These types of toys are perfect for little ones as they begin to learn object permanence and develop hand / eye coordination. It became my child’s very first ‘puzzle’ and it was versatile. As my children grew, they began using the hammer to further develop gross and fine motor skills as well as hand-eye coordination.

EverEarth Natural Wood Blocks, 80 Pieces are necessary for this age group. They help develop a child’s creativity, help them explore fundamentals of cause and effect, gravity (objects fall down), balance, build hand-eye coordination, gross and fine motor skills, explore colors (if you purchase colored ones) and shapes, etc. These are also versatile for the future. Later on children can use them for sorting, designing, building, creating, experimenting, etc. And if you purchase these, your child could paint their own blocks!

Do you have a place outside your home near a window that would be a great place for this Sorbus Bird Feeder – Classic Tube Hanging Feeders for Finches Bird Seed and More, Weatherproof, Premium Hard Plastic with Metal Hanger, Great for Attracting Birds Outdoors, Backyard, Garden (2 Pack)?  Children at this age are so intrigued by nature.  My children LOVE watching birds come to the feeder especially in the window.  Ours is strategically placed outside their playroom window.  In the winter, feeders help non migrating birds find food.  It’s a great way for children to explore birds more close up and appreciate nature.  I added this to this age group because children love watching birds go to the feeder at this age and it builds a foundation for an interest in nature, but this ‘toy’ could be given to any age group.  Accompany it with an age appropriate bird book and some bird seed!  We have a feeder very similar to this one and it is a hit!

Age 1-3 years:

In this age group, children are typically further refining their motor skills, developing language skills, developing socially and emotionally and just beginning cognitive development skills (understanding how the world works through experience). For this age group, I’d recommend toys that nourish their already natural need to perfect their motor function (especially fine motor), allow for creativity, and support their language development. Many children in this age range love to find ways to express their new found independence – that can be nourished with age appropriate problem solving toys.

Bath Building Tubes

I think most children in this age range, love water. These Boon Building Bath Pipes Toy Set, Set of 5 have been so much fun for both my children at bath time. They are great for teaching cause and effect since they can rearrange the pipes to make water flow various directions through the chain or they can be used separately.

I try to find more complex building toys for my children. Our favorite, by far, have been Magformers Basic Set (30 pieces) magnetic building blocks, educational magnetic tiles, magnetic building STEM toy and LEGO Duplo My First My First Bricks 10848. Both of these toys offer expansion packs so you can continue building their collection. My daughters love mixing and matching the pieces from different packs to create something new.

Puzzles are another great option for kids in this age range. They help develop fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination and problem solving skills. This Melissa & Doug Classic Wooden Peg Puzzles (Set of 3) – Numbers, Alphabet, and Colors would familiarize children with numbers, colors, letters and number words. The pegs make it just a little easier for little hands to grab and put them in place on the board.

We have toys similar to this Dinosaur Toys Take Apart Toys With Tools (218 pieces) – Pack of 6 Dinosaurs – Construction Engineering STEM Learning Toy Building Play Set – Toy for Boys & Girls Age 3 – 12 years old and my kids love it! It’s great for developing coordination, cognitive skills and creativity. They can disassemble and reassemble. My only caution is to be sure that your child has past the phase of putting objects into their mouth because some parts and pieces could be a choking hazard.

My daughter picked out this B. toys – Two-ty Fruity! Wooden Abacus Toy – Classic Wooden Educational Counting Toy With 100 Beads – Natural Wood and BPA and Phthalates FREE Beads from the store when she was about 16 months old. It’s never too early to start counting… while they may not understand the concept of counting yet, familiarizing them with counting language and allowing them to move the pieces on the abacus is fun. Later on, kids can use this for learning how to add and subtract small numbers.

Age 3-5 years:

Children in this age group have (and are continuing to) greatly expand their language. They also have a huge imagination, love creative play and are extremely active. As far as cognitive development, they are capable of sorting objects by size, shape, color, etc. They also enjoy counting, begin understanding the concept of time and what it means to split something in half. Some can even begin counting money. They are not logical thinkers, so they typically “learn by seeing and doing”. This is a wonderful age to introduce experimentation and teach hypotheses, however simplicity and repetition is key. Kids are learning through play at this age.

Learning Resources Code & Go Robot Mouse is a problem solving and critical thinking toy that introduces children to the concept of coding. Kids lay out the maze for the mouse to find the cheese, then select and layout the order of the movements with cards. After the cards are laid out, they ‘program’ the steps into the mouse and watch how it moves. This toy challenges children to think critically and problem solve. It is also totally hands on and experimental. Also, keep your eyes out for this Fisher Price Think & Learn Code-a-Pillar Toy.  DISCLAIMER: I have not tested the Code and Go Mouse myself.

My daughter is really into space. Check out this cool Smithsonian Space 2019 Wall Calendar! A calendar is such a cheap, inexpensive learning tool for children to learn numbers, counting and understanding the concept of time. I found my daughters calendar last year in the discount bin at Target. This coming year, I splurged a little bit and ordered it off of Amazon. We incorporate our calendar into our nighttime routine with her. It’s helped with number recognition and counting.

Single Learning Resources Jumbo Magnifying Glass for Kids (One Magnifying Glass of Random Color Per Order)

A magnifying Single Learning Resources Jumbo Magnifying Glass for Kids (One Magnifying Glass of Random Color Per Order) has been one of the best interactive learning toys for my toddler. She brings it outside with her on warmer days and she examines nature with it – fallen leaves, flowers, grass, tree nuts, bark, insects, etc. She also uses it inside, for example, to examine her clothes, books, toys and the floor. She pretends to be a detective too. We’ve pretended to be underwater divers looking for “treasure” with it also. If you get one of these, watch your child’s imagination take over.

Melissa & Doug Stained Glass Made Easy Activity Kit: Princess – 100+ Stickers, Wooden Frame is really great for kids in this age range. These are hands on and teach number recognition as well as fine motor skill development and cognitive skill development. Check out my post on Learning numbers and early math for additional information.

Do you want to encourage your child to love chemistry? This Learning Resources Primary Science Lab Activity Set, 22 pieces looks great for allowing kids to do some experimenting while learning various experimental terms like beaker, eye dropper, flask, etc. It comes with simple experiment cards for your child to enjoy and test. DISCLAIMER: I have not tested this toy myself.

Marble runs are perfect for this age group. It develops their creativity, fine motor skills, and problem solving and cognitive skills. I love this Marble Genius Marble Run Super Set – 100 Complete Pieces + Free Instruction App (85 Translucent Marbulous Pieces + 15 Glass Marbles) because it is transparent (kids can see the marble move through it) and it has so many starter parts and pieces.

If your child loves space like mine, they will absolutely adore this Discovery Kids Planetarium Projector for Children with Rotating Stars Night Sky Mode and Stationary Slides Mode with Planet, Constellation, Solar System, Nebula, Spaceship, and Star Slides. The planetarium is shaped like a space ship and has two projector modes: 1) the moving side has a dome that rotated and projects stars like the night sky and 2) the stationary side allows for 4 included reel discs for children to view space images like a nebula, the planets, the moon, the sun, galaxies, etc. The only downside is that the reel disc don’t have a cheat sheet to know what you are looking at, so you’ll need to do your homework ahead of time like we did.

My children love this Fisher-Price Medical Kit. We’ve even brought it to the doctors office with us! It’s a great toy for imagination and acting out doctors office visits. It introduces children to simple tools that doctors utilize to check patients. It includes a blood pressure cuff, thermometer, otoscope, bandage, syringe and stethoscope.

If your child is already into Duplo Legos, another alternative to the Marble Run mentioned above is this BATTOP Marble Run Building Blocks Construction Toys Set Puzzle Race Track for Kids-97 Pieces.  It works similarly to a marble run but attaches directly to your childs Duplo Legos set.  I opted for this option for my children because they absolutely love their Duplo Legos. DISCLAIMER: I have not tested this toy myself yet.

Age 5-8 years:

Children in this age group have developed better reasoning skills and will continue to gain more confidence in reasoning. They have also learned new skills like reading and writing, which makes it easier for them to work more individually on complex activities. Selecting toys that allow them to continue improving these skills and selecting ones that continue to expand their creativity is critical for this age group to continue building confidence in their skills.

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Anyone that has been following my Fairy Garden Project will understand why I purchased this tool set for my 3 year old daughter. I put it in this age group because younger kids will definitely need help using these tools, but older kids (in this age group) will not need as much supervision. I actually bought this tool set from my local Lowe’s recently. It includes everything my child would need to help work on various household projects with us and also has many needed tools for our Fairy Garden project his winter.

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Does your child enjoy digging, dinosaurs or want to be a paleontologist? I’d suggest checking out Jurassic World Stem Playleontology Kit. Kids get the opportunity to dig, chisel and brush away dirt to reveal the dinosaur bones of a T-Rex. It can then be displayed on the display stand included. Once assembled, the mouth of the T-Rex will open and close. They get to experience what it is like to be a paleontologist. A book on dinosaur bones would be a great accompaniment to this toy. DISCLAIMER: I have not tested this toy myself.

How amazing would it be for your kids to make their own ice cream and learn science simultaneously? I found this Play and Freeze, Ice Cream Ball- Ice Cream Maker, (77349)Maker and I can’t wait to try it out with my kids when they are older! This is a hands-on experiment where kids learn the science behind freezing and movement. They must read and follow the instructions for it to work. The result is delicious ice cream in 30 minutes. Don’t forget to check out the included recipes and buy the ingredients in advance too! DISCLAIMER: I have not yet tested this toy myself.

I remember when I was this age, I LOVED getting mail. Buying a subscription to a magazine would be exciting for kids in this age group. If they love learning and reading facts about animals and science, I’d suggest checking out a National Geographic Kids subscription. If you’ve never checked out the images in these books, you need to. The photographs are stunning.

ThinkFun Math Dice Junior Game for Boys and Girls Age 6 and Up – Teachers Favorite and Toy of the Year Nominee is a fun mental math game for kids learning and honing in on their addition and subtraction skills. Kids in this age range love games and this one looks like it would be fun to play as a family and would prepare them mentally for their middle school years. DISCLAIMER: I have not yet tested this game myself but have read the game details and game reviews.

Who remembers The Magic School Bus: Greatest Original Episodes? These movies are still wonderful learning tools for children. In this DVD, children are taken through space, the human body and the eye of the storm. These episodes are so easy for children in this age range to understand and keep their attention. We have this DVD and my children love it.

Age 8-10 years:

Middle schoolers are typically able to apply more logic and reasoning skills. They are also typically a bit more methodical in their thinking and approach than younger children and they are very fluent readers. More advanced toys that require them to read and follow instructions, problem solve issues and use their creativity would be great for this age.

Snap Circuits Jr. SC-100 Electronics Exploration Kit | Over 100 STEM Projects | 4-Color Project Manual | 30 Snap Modules | Unlimited Fun is amazing!! I have this toy listed under this age range mostly because it does require some creative methodical thinking to work on this alone but this could easily be adapted for younger children if you are willing to work with them on it. Another option for more simplicity would be to check out Snap Circuits Beginner Electronics Exploration Kit | Over 20 STEM Projects | 4-Color Project Manual | 12 Snap Modules | Unlimited Fun which, based on reviews, has simpler diagrams to follow and may be easier for a bright young child. Children build various circuitry based on the diagrams provided and enjoy the success of completion or use problem solving skills to troubleshoot issues. All parts snap together, so it’s safe for children. I bought this to work on with my 3 year old and it was actually a lot of fun. Of course, attention span is limited at that age, but it primed her interest for electronics which was my goal for her age.

K’NEX were popular when I was a kid and it’s nice to see that they haven’t lost their popularity. If you are looking for a building toy for this age group, check out the K’NEX – 35 Model Building Set – 480 Pieces – For Ages 7+ Construction Education Toy (Amazon Exclusive). K’NEX allows kids to build objects that actually move. This set allows for creativity and helps develop more advanced cognitive skill.

If your child loved their marble run and they love challenges, then the ThinkFun Gravity Maze Marble Run Logic Game and STEM Toy for Boys and Girls Age 8 and Up – Toy of the Year Award Winner might be a great toy for them. It is a much more intense complicated maze set up with 60 challenge cards. The pieces can be arranged many different ways which is what makes this challenging. This toy claims improve spacial awareness and logic. Based on the videos I reviewed, I would agree. Check out the video in the link to see how it works. DISCLAIMER: I have not tested this toy myself.

The Everything Kids’ Science Experiments Book: Boil Ice, Float Water, Measure Gravity-Challenge the World Around You! has several household scientific experiments that are safe for children to do with some adult supervision. Experiments are organized and easy to understand. If your child is planning for science fair this year, this might be a good book for them. DISCLAIMER: I have not personally reviewed this book.

Age 10-12 years:

Children in this age rage typically have a very developed cognitive ability. They can gather thoughts, opinions and facts and formulate their own organized thoughts. They also typically use and practice more mental math and start learning more advanced math concepts in school. Any additional practice you can provide for additional skill practice in a fun way, while learning new concepts, would be helpful to confidence building.

Practicing more advanced mental math would help children in this age. This game, Math for Love Prime Climb, is a game that requires children to do mental addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. Younger children can play with an adult. It is a game that combines skill, luck and strategy. DISCLAIMER: I have not personally tried this game.

Discovery Propulsion Rocket by Horizon Group USA is a reusable rocket launcher that uses household products for launching. Fun ways to use this launcher would be timing how long for take off, timing how long it’s in the air and measuring how far the rocket launches. This would also be a great toy to research energy and Newton’s 3rd Law of Motion. DISCLAIMER: I have not personally tried this product.

While I personally have not read this book yet, I have read numerous reviews and have a reliable resource that First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong is an excellent book. Neil Armstrong was the first man on the moon but he was also an incredibly talented engineer and astronaut. He was a man that lived through the infancy of the space program. This book is also a major motion picture. DISCLAIMER: This book is on loan and on my reading list!

If you are looking for something similar to snap circuits but a bit more challenging, check out Snap Circuits Snapino – Making Coding A Snap | Snap Circuits & Arduino Compatible | Perfect Introduction to Arduino Coding | Great STEM Product.  It introduces coding concepts to their electronic design.  Each project has detailed instructions explaining how to connect the circuitry and also how to write the code in the program that your child can download onto their own computer. DISCLAIMER: I have not tested this toy myself yet. 

As always, these are suggestions for each age range. Some children may require more or less challenging toys based on their needs and skill level. Some of these products (noted above), I was not able to review or test myself, however I did a thorough review of each to make my recommendation. I was able to test most products with kids in the younger age groups but not the older ones.

If you have any questions, please contact me at momgineeringthefuture@gmail.com.

Animals, Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, Cleveland Zoological Society, Nature

Check out the Veterinary Procedures at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo

On November 5, 2018, we visited the Cleveland Metro parks Zoo and we spent some time in the Sarah Allison Steffee Center for Zoological Medicine.

 

I would consider this somewhat a ‘hidden gem’ inside the Cleveland Zoo.  It is nestled back behind the Rising Waters Safari Camp, just past the Rhino exhibit and building.  On most of our visits to the zoo, we either spend very minimal time in this building or we’ve skipped it.  Since it was a little chillier outside, we decided to spend a bit more time exploring this building and it was well worth it!

According to the Cleveland Zoological Society, the center is “dedicated to the diagnosis, treatment and surgical procedures, has a radiology lab, clinical labs an endocrinology lab and a pharmacy.”  And actually, the site map inside the facility shows that their is much more to this facility than the typical visitor actually gets to see.

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This center walks through the care of animals from birth to end of life.  Along the way, there are interactive activities for kids, for example, filling crates with the appropriate meal items for various animals and a diagnostic challenge.  The diagnostic challenge steps you through the process of determining what is wrong with an animal and the diagnostic tools that a veterinarian might use to determine it.  My 3 year old especially loved these areas.  She loved pretending to care for the animals and prepare their food for the day and she also loved pretending she was a veterinarian problem solving why the animal was sick.

The absolute best part of this center for visitors is being able to see scientists provide veterinary services to the animals.  There are 4 rooms visible to guests – 3 surgical / procedural rooms and 1 imaging room (i.e. for x-rays).

We were lucky and a procedure was schedule that day at 11:30am.  We were able to observe the veterinary staff provide health services to a scarlet macaw.  This was extremely fun.  We saw the animal put under anesthesia and the veterinary staff check it’s heart, feathers, skin, talons, and beak.  They also took some x-rays of the bird.  The veterinary staff briefly brought the animal up to the window for everyone to see it up close also.

My understanding is that a veterinary procedure could be happening at any point depending on the needs of the zoo, however I did speak to another zoo member that day and she has observed many procedures there.  She mentioned that the procedures typically occur around 11:30 am or 2pm each day.  This particular one was at 11:30am.

So, if you are there, you might want to check out the center around those times of day!  This was such a great experience for children.  My daughters were able to compare their doctors appointments to what was happening to the animal.  My daughter had questions about why the scarlet macaw had to go under anesthesia for a simple procedure, while she did not for her doctor appointments.  She was also able to make the connection to some of the interactive exhibits in the center.

I am a member of the Cleveland Metro parks Zoo but I have no other affiliation with them.  I was not asked to provide this review and I did not talk directly with any member of the zoo about this blog post.  All opinions and viewpoints in this post are 100% my own.

Have you seen this type of procedure at the zoo near you?  Which zoo?  What other uniques experiences have your children had at the zoo you’ve attended to help introduce various STEM fields to them?  Let me know in the comments or at momgineeringthefuture@gmail.com.

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Book Review, Germs, STEM Resources

Reading ‘STEMs’ Learning – “Do not lick this book!” Book Review

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Click to purchase this book on Amazon!

Several weeks ago, I was browsing through a parenting magazine and I saw a book listed as one of the best picture books of the year. Since it seemed to be STEM based, of course, I had to check it out!

“Do not lick this book!” is an extremely FUN, interactive and informative book to read!! It introduces germs and viruses in a fun interactive way by following a germ called ‘Min’ on an adventure. Min meets lots of new germ friends along the way. Children interact with the book by pretending to physically place Min and Min’s friends in various places, then exploring those places and meeting new germ friends.

The author, Idan Ben-Barak, holds several degrees including microbiology, the history and philosophy of science and library studies. He lives in Melbourne, Australia. The illustrator, Julian Frost, is world known.

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There are several pages in this book that have very impressive high resolution microscopic images – specifically using a scanning electron microscope (SEM). So kids can see things, like a shirt, in very very high resolution. Some of the things that the germs say in the book that Min meets along the way are very witty and funny. My three year thought this book was absolutely hilarious and we read this book quite often. She ends up roaring in laughter through each page!
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If your child is between the ages of 3-8, I would recommend this book as one to check out. As an adult, I LOVED reading this book to my child. It was a lot of fun to pretend and learn together. I am also personally glad that I purchased it because we have been reading it over and over again.

Have you read this book before? What did you and your child think? Is this a book you want to check out? Let me know in the comments or at momgineeringthefuture@gmail.com.

DISCLAIMER: As an Amazon Associate and I may earn from qualifying purchases made from the links above. I was not requested to review this book and I was not compensated for this post. All opinions are 100% my own.

Cleveland Museum of Natural History, Museums, Nature, Uncategorized

Built to Survive: Biomechanics at Cleveland Natural History Museum

We went to the Cleveland Natural History Museum on Sunday, October 21 to view their newest exhibit – Built to Survive: Biomechanics.

Many (if not all) scientific inventions, ideas and theories originate because scientists have observed the incredible way nature functions around us.  This exhibit left me with a feeling of wonder and amazement and both girls came out excited and ready to continue exploring the museum.

20181021_125601When we walked in, there were four display cases that explained how nature works mechanically to push (i.e. snot pushes out dirt and germs from your body), distort (i.e. gravity distorts the discs in your spine but lie down and they expand), bend (collagen, cellulose and/or keratin in nature gives strength to hollow objects in nature like feathers) and press (i.e. coral can withstand pounding waves because it’s made of very hard calcium carbonate).

Near this area was a game called,“PUSH THEM TO THEIR LIMITS!”.  My 3 year old loved this area!  She could select two objects and then decide which one would win in compression, tension and bending tests.  Then she was able to push a button to run the test and see how each object performed for each test.  I personally loved this game too because it brought me back to my materials engineering roots.

 

20181021_130413Next we moved on to learn about the “circulatory” systems in various animals and also in trees.  Did you know that trees use xylem in each ring of the tree to pump up nutrients to the rest of the tree?  We were able to see through a microscope what the xylem looks like.

The highlight in this area for the kids was pumping “blood” from the heart of a giraffe all the way up it’s neck – it helped explain the concept of blood pressure and how hard a giraffes heart must pump in order to get blood all the way to it’s brain.  I personally was shocked at how hard I had to pump the heart to get it to reach the top.

We learned about why the size of a deer ranges depending on the climate it lives in, we watched a video on how animals survive in the dessert, learned about ‘levers’ in the human body and how they function mechanically, I was able to test my own grip strength (no wonder I need my husband to open those jars for me… haha…), gain more insight into prosthetics (and robots) and we were able to become birds and flap our wings!

They also had a neat area that explained heat loss and insulation of the body and we were able to stand in front of an infrared camera to see how “hot” or “cold” we were.  Check out this “HOT” couple!  Haha!

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There was SO MUCH to explore and learn in this exhibit!  I know if I made another trip, I would find even more to learn and understand.

At times, it was a bit of a challenge to make it through the exhibit with two very young children – 1 and 3 years old – but we managed ok.  I would recommend that if you have more than one young child, to be sure that you have another adult with you and try to choose times when the exhibit won’t be too busy.  Sunday afternoon was perfect for us.  The girls were so excited to play with the interactive pieces and they seemed perfectly spaced throughout.

This exhibit will be available at the Cleveland Natural History Museum until April 28, 2019!  So you will have plenty of time to plan your trip.  Admission to this exhibit is included with general admission and members get in FREE.  There is so much more to explore in this museum!!  Check out their admissions page on their website for more information on hours and pricing.

We have a membership to the Cleveland Museum of Natural History and attended out of our own interest.  This post was not a request from the Cleveland Museum of Natural History and I received no compensation for this post.

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Inexpensive and Versatile, Math and Numbers, STEM Resources, STEM toys

Learning numbers and early math…

When I think of STEM fundamentals, counting and number recognition tops the list!  Think about all the times you use numbers during the day.  I can think of plenty – telling time, date, year, counting money, when cooking to measure ingredients or turn on my oven, while driving (i.e. speed limits), etc.

With two young kids, we’ve tried to find some creative ways and tools for our kids to recognize numbers and learn some basic math.  Here’s a small sampling that you might be able to incorporate into your home:

20181103_144255Counting to 10 daily with our fingers:  When my older child was a baby, I had her in a local “babynastics” class.  During that class, the instructor had everyone count to 10 with their fingers.  I thought this was important for fine motor development, listening skill development as well as number and counting basics so I adopted this at home.  Every morning, my older child and I make it a habit to count to 10 with our fingers in front of my 1 year old.  My older child loves this because she is able to do this easily and she is “teaching” her sister and it literally takes 10 seconds to do it!

20181103_150715Food Math:  This has been especially fun with leftover Halloween candy like M&M’s and skittles.  We count the number in each color from the bag, we count the total number, we use the colors to do simple addition and subtraction.  It’s a lot of fun!  I also let my kids select and count the food at the grocery store (for example, putting apples into the bag).

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Stained Glass Made Easy by Melissa & Doug Princess

Melissa & Doug Stained Glass Made Easy Activity Kit: Princess – 100+ Stickers, Wooden Frame:  Someone in our family gifted this to my daughter for her birthday.  Not only was it fun for her, it caused her to do some critical thinking, problem solving and learn to recognize numbers all the way up to 102!   

Reading the Calendar: We found a princess calendar at the beginning of the year in the discount bins at Target.  It hangs in my daughters room and part of our bedtime routine is to talk about the date on the calendar for the next day.  I know that this concept is used in many preschool classes as well.

20181014_162536Drawing and writing the numbers:  There are tons of dry erase books and pads out there to practice with but this Kid O 0-9 Learn Your Numbers Magnatab has been one of my favorites.  Children use a magnetic pen and draw over the board which brings up the metal pegs to create the numbers. 

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Teach how to tell time from “Smart School House”

Reading the clock:  During the day, my children like to know when to expect various things – like snack or nap or TV time or time to leave for school, etc.  We have a traditional wall clock hanging in several areas of our home.  My older child isn’t old enough to understand multiplication yet but she is able to recognize which is the small hand and which is the big hand.  So I tell her, for example, when the big hand is at “3”, we will have our snack.  When my child gets a little older, I plan to use an idea I found on Pinterest from “SmartSchoolHouse“.

Watching Sesame Street: My children love Sesame Street.  We actually watch the reruns on the Roku PBS App often.  They have so many counting related clips in each episode.

This is just a small sampling of things we have found helpful.  What types of things do you do or what tools do you use at your house to help with number recognition or to improve math skills with your child?  Let me know in the comments or at momgineeringthefuture@gmail.com.

Disclaimer: I am an Amazon Associate.  As an Amazon Associate, I may earn from qualifying purchases made using some of the links above.

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