Parents, do you have a little engineer at home? Is your family obsessed with all things STEM? Is your house filled with inventions and creations? Does your child raid your recycling bin on a regular basis? Are your kids happier playing with a big ol’ cardboard box than any of the toys with bells and whistles that are found in your playroom? Do you run a Destination Imagination or Odyssey of the Mind team and need some ideas for challenges? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you’re going to want to keep reading.
ThinkFun Maker Studio: Winches Set Review
Recently, we had the pleasure of trying out ThinkFun‘s new Maker Studio Winches Set.
The ThinkFun Maker Studio Winches Set includes materials and instructions for your child to make a jeep, a crane, a well, and tow truck, in addition to any creations that your budding engineer dreams up. The possibilities are endless, folks! There are so many things that I love about this set. First, your child applies the pieces included to recycled materials, such as boxes and yogurt cups, making for a very “green” product. Also, once your child has followed the instructions and created the jeep, well, crane, or tow truck, they can take the learning a step further with the included Engineering Challenges. Your child will being having so much fun that she’ll have no idea she’s learning about torque, propulsion, and friction!
If you’ve been following us for any length of time, you already know that we are huge fans of ThinkFun. As a school psychologist turned homeschooler, I select books, games, and other activities with care. I am not a fan of toys and games with bells and whistles. Instead, I search for products that are educational, those that inspire imagination and encourage creativity. ThinkFun one of those companies that excels at creating innovative, educational materials.
Benefits of ThinkFun Maker Studio:
- There are so many benefits to this product, folks! STEM careers (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) are among the fastest growing careers around. This is a great way to work some STEM into your home or homeschool routine.
- The engineering possibilities that this set provides are endless. This is not a product that your family will outgrow any time soon, folks.
- Your child must first follow directions to create the vehicle or well, but they must incorporate their own materials. Each piece is therefore unique.
- Once complete, there are a number of engineering challenges. These challenges require children to think on their feet, to think outside of the box, and to problem solve. This boosts creativity, imagination, and learning.
- This is a wonderful, gender neutral kit. My daughter, age 5, had a ton of fun playing with it too (although she required a bit more assistance with putting pieces together due to her age-level).
- The MakerStudio sets are affordable with sturdy pieces that can be used again and again.
- In addition to being educational and fun, this game provides me with quiet time because my children are so engaged in the process (priceless!!).
Honestly the only negative that I can think of is that your child is going to eventually run out of boxes and containers and will then turn to the box that the set came in. So you’re going to want to start thinking about a place to store the pieces!
What did the kids think of ThinkFun Maker Studio?
But, wait… there are more ThinkFun Maker Studio kits:
Guess what? There are more ThinkFun Maker Studio sets available!
In this set your child can make a cable car, motorcycle, race car and three-wheeler. This set also includes 10 Engineer Challenges to take the learning further.
With this set, your little STEMist can make a helicopter, plane, biplane, and windmill. Again, Engineer Challenges are provided so that you can build upon the learning experience.
Folks, can you even imagine what your little engineer could create if you had all three kits at home?? These are both on Leo’s Christmas list, which he started immediately upon learning that there are two additional kits available.
ThinkFun Maker Studio Demonstrations by Leo (age 7-years):
In this video, Leo demonstrates the well that he created using the Winches set, a yogurt cup, and his imagination:
In this video, Leo demonstrates the jeep that he created using the box that the Winches set is supposed to go in (I told you! Start planning where you’re going to keep it, folks. We are currently using a mesh laundry bag):
Can’t get enough ThinkFun? Here are our family’s favorites:
This is a challenging one-player logic game that incorporates a marble run. The player must construct a marble run that meets the criteria on each challenge card. Challenge cards increase in complexity, providing endless fun. We have gushed about this game before both here and here.
In this one-player game, players must use logic and planning abilities, in combination with lights and mirrors, to get the laser from point A to point B, according to each challenge card. Like Gravity Maze, cards increase in difficulty so your family won’t outgrow this game any time soon! We’ve gushed about it here and here.
In this one-player logic game, the player must free his car from gridlock traffic. The challenges include four levels of play, from easy to expert. Extension packs are available for the Rush Hour obsessed (like us), and a junior version for your littlest gamers. We have gushed about Rush Hour here, here,here, and here. It’s one of our most favorite games!
Just when you thought Rush Hour couldn’t get any better, it did. Rush Hour Shift is the two player version of Rush Hour, with playing cards added for luck and a shifting grid to provide additional challenge. I’m sure it will become an instant classic in your home, as it did in ours. We’ve gushed about it here and here.
This is a brightly colored and super fun transparent card game that requires you to think fast and use spatial reasoning. These cards are super-durable and travel well. We’ve gushed about it here. I often say I wish this game had been around back in my swim team days. It would have been perfect for those long meets, wet hands, and wet surfaces!
PathWords is so addicting! It is like a word search with a puzzle element. Using increasingly difficult challenge cards, you must use the colored geometric pieces to highlight words so that, in the end, you solve the puzzle with no pieces remaining. We gushed about it here.
Zingo! is a fun twist on traditional Bingo for your little gamers. Players must be the first to get three in a row (or, if you’re in our family- fill your card!) so that they can shout, “Zingo!” and win the game. The game involves matching tiles to the words, numbers, or pictures on your card. Several variations of Zingo are available, including a Sight Word Zingo that our family loves and a numeric version. We’ve gushed about it here.
Word A Round
Word A Round is a fast and fun word searching game that can be played a couple different ways. The goal is to find a hidden word on each card. There are three rings per card and there is a hidden word in each ring. We will often play this game as a one–player game, too. 2 or more players, recommended for ages 10 and up.
Do you love Gameschooling?
I rely heavily on educational games in our homeschool. Read more here:
What is your family’s favorite STEM activity? What is your favorite ThinkFun game? Have you tried ThinkFun Maker Studio kits yet? Share here!
Cait co-hosts The Homeschool Sisters Podcast and is co-founder of Raising Poppies, a community for parents of gifted and twice-exceptional children. Cait is also founder of the Family Book Club at My Little Poppies, a fantastic community of book-loving parents and the Gameschool Community at My Little Poppies, a vibrant community of gameschoolers.
Cait is a contributing writer for Simple Homeschool and GeekMom. Her work has also appeared on The Huffington Post, The Mighty, and Scary Mommy. You can find her on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram
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