Editors’ Choice Toys
Review by Angie Kibiloski
A huge part of kids’ education today is STEM based, and we know that one of the best ways to get kids to learn is to make lessons fun. So, what better way to get your kids an early start in their STEM fundamentals, than to teach those skills during playtime? Educational Insights is a company that has long specialized in learning toys, and their newest offering, Circuit Explorer playsets, will launch your kids on a journey into electrical engineering basics. These building kits will teach your kids how to construct simple circuits, with clear instructions and visual cues, so they can understand how they work and why. With 3 increasingly complex, space-themed kits to choose from, appropriate for kids ages 6-12, one of these would be a great holiday gift for any curious kid.
The 3 playsets to choose from are the Rocket ($29.99), which is the simplest of the 3, the Rover ($39.99), which is a little more advanced, and the Deluxe Base Station ($59.99), which is the most involved of them all. Each building set highlights a different purpose for the circuits. The Rocket features pieces that light up, including a nose cone and landing pad, the Rover focuses on motion, with a rotating radar dish and motorized vehicle, and the Deluxe Base Station brings together lights, motion, and sound, including a color changing planetarium dome, rotating diner sign, and voice synthesizer. Each set can be enjoyed by all ages, but the larger sets are more challenging to construct, so might be more fitting for older kids. Playing with the simplest Rocket set, which is geared towards the youngest children, who are just getting introduced to circuits, was still pretty fun even as an adult reviewer. It was cool to see the finished creation light up, especially the parts that cycled through 3 different colors, to really make the build come to life.
All sets have the same chunky designed pieces, which are easy for little hands to maneuver, and the interlocking elements of the pieces clearly stand out, so your child will be able to quickly recognize where to connect each part. There are also guide lines drawn on each piece, illustrating where the electricity flows through, so your child can clearly see if the circuits are lined up correctly. The pieces fit together easily, though a couple were difficult to separate once snapped tight. I had to wedge something in between 2 pieces to disconnect them, but for the most part, kids shouldn’t need assistance building their own sets. That is, after an adult has inserted the 9 AAA batteries that the sets require to fuel all 3 power sources (a whopping 15 AAA for the Deluxe Base Station). These are not included, so be prepared with a fresh box of batteries before handing your excited kid their new toy. After completing the main build, and once your kid understands how to line the pieces up to make the circuits work, they can be as creative as they want, and combine the pieces in other ways to make their own unique constructions. All sets come with decals, to decorate and customize each creation after construction is complete, as well as cute little character figures to help your child imagine lots of cool adventures.
A lot of STEM educational toys require your kids to connect to an app, in order to code and control the toy, but the Circuit Explorer sets get them learning without the need for a screen. Screen-free, imaginative play is important for developing minds, and these sets are a perfect way to get kids’ creativity flowing, while teaching them useful fundamentals. Each of the 3 sets is fun to use on its own, but they can also all be combined to create the ultimate space-themed building set. Easy to use, and great for little hands, these sets would be a perfect gift this holiday season. Check out more about each set on the Educational Insights website, then buy the Rocket, Rover, and Deluxe Base Station exclusively on Amazon.