Teaching Textbooks

Learning the U.S. Presidents – Brainbox Memory Game

How much information do you think you could remember in just 10 seconds? 

Hint: If you brain is 43 years old and living with four children, the answer may be less than you think. 

Recently (when I was pulled into the abyss that is Amazon), I came across Brainbox’s U. S. Presidents game, a memory challenge game for kids (and parents) to learn about the U. S. Presidents and also work on memory and observation skills. It quickly made its way into our Amazon cart and then home. Since making its debut, the kids have been pulling out the cards and learning fun tidbits and facts about our country’s leaders (a definite win!). 

Playing the U.S. Presidents Game

The game is SUPER simple – pretty much three steps: study, remember, and answer a question to win. 

Pick a card from the box, flip over the ten-second timer, and take 10 seconds to review the facts and images on the front of the card.

TRY TO REMEMBER IT ALL! You will be tested…good luck parents.

Roll the die and have someone ask you a question from the six on the back of the card, based on the number you roll. Questions range from years served in office, political party, state born in, nicknames, vice-presidents, to questions about the graphics on the card. 

Collect your cards – the first one to ten wins. If you miss a question, your card goes back in the box for someone else to grab later. 

All of the cards are printed on heavy-duty cards (thicker than typical cardstock and near impossible to bend). There are 44 presidents included in the deck (Trump hasn’t been included yet since the game was published prior to his term). Each card does have little details that will help you as you try to remember (color coding based on presidential party, etc.). 

The set also includes 10 additional cards that cover the presidential parties as well as various landmarks and items specific to US History. A 10 second egg timer and die are also in the box. 

Skills Brainbox US Presidents Works On: 

There are a few things that U. S. Presidents has been great in working on with the kids (and me too!)

  • Thinking strategically – while we do want to learn the facts, you need to figure out picture clues and other strategies (like the color coding) to help you ‘scan’ faster.
  • Memory recall – kids have only a short amount of time to read over the card and commit things to memory. Sometimes something seems like it might be insignificant, but flip the card over and you may be asked how many birds were on the front. You never know what will be asked! 

Recommended Ages:

The game is recommended for ages 8+, but some of that may depend on your child’s reading ability and may result in adjustments. Our youngest isn’t a strong reader and he would not be able to gather enough info in the 10 seconds, so we either allow him additional time to look at the card or someone reads the card to him to help out. 

We haven’t kept a running score of our  games, but the kids have been pulling out cards at the breakfast table in the morning and going over facts in addition to the time the boys and I sit down together and play a few times a week. All of our kids (ages 10 to 16) have enjoyed playing this together and the 10 year old is the most competitive in the bunch! It’s been great seeing them each work on their recall and figure out different ways to remember things.

This game may be new to you (as it was to us), but I love hearing about different games, especially when there is an added learning twist in the game.

Have you ever played U. S. Presidents before?

Do you have a game recommendation for our family to try next?

 

Honestly, we LOVE the game and the kids have asked if we can get a few of the other ones in the set. Here are the ones that will be joining our home over the next few months: 


 

A few freebies to go along with President learning…

If you like these resources, you may also enjoy the president’s day handwriting pages, a free download! They are not specific to president’s day and include quotes from several presidents to use as copywork. 

The U.S. President Fact Files are another FREE printable that feature coloring images of all 45 U.S. Presidents along with room to write down important facts about each president. 

A Reason for Science Level D Review

Educents is a blog sponsor and we received this product free for the purpose of reviewing it. All opinions expressed are my personal, honest opinions. You can read my full disclosure policy for more details. 

A Reason for Science - a homeschool science program review from Homeschool Creations

This year I thought we would try something different for science. Instead of using a curriculum of any type, I pulled a bunch of science experiment books off our shelves and marked various activities to do with Kaleb over the course of the year. No real aim or direction, other than keep the 4th grade science lover in our home busy with fun projects. 

It seemed like a fabulous idea, but there’s one thing that continues to be a hangup of mine: preparation (aka gathering) of materials. While I am fabulous at earmarking pages and having the overall idea of what to implement, sometimes I neglect to remember the inconvenience of finding every single item needed for the activities (and with science it can sometimes be a little more tricky). Translated, that meant that up until December we did a whopping TWO experiments of the ones I had a planned and the books just sat there staring at me. And Kaleb kept asking when we would do more. 

Because science is something that makes Kaleb LIGHT UP like crazy and gets him motivated, I did a little digging in December and we decided to use A Reason for Science (Level D) from Educents with him for the second half of the school year. Complete with a teacher’s manual, student book, and a shoebox full of go-along supplies, there may have been some excitement from both of us when the box arrived. If there is anything I know about myself at this point in homeschooling, the easier I can make it for myself, the more likely it is to be accomplished. 

A Peek Inside A Reason for Science

We were able to immediately begin using the program the day after we received our box (I took a quick look through the teacher guidebook to get my bearings). Since then we have been working through the lessons and I would love to share a few of our thoughts and what we are enjoying about the program. While this has been a bit of a shift from the traditional textbook approach of other science programs we have used, I am loving the focus on having Kaleb actively learning and understanding concepts as he works through the various processes.  It’s slightly more informal, but in a structured way – if that makes sense!

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Each level of A Reason For Science® Homeschool Pack includes a materials kit, a student worktext, and a teacher guidebook and is designed to teach a variety of concepts over the course of the year: basic life, earth, and physical science. 

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The lesson pages are broken down in the teacher guidebook showing the category of science covered, lesson focus, objective, materials needed from the kit (and home), any safety concerns, and what to do. Images of the pages in the student worktext are given as well, along with possible answers to questions, as well as additional learning ideas and a full walkthrough with teacher insights. For me personally it took a little bit of getting used to the format (since we have used different programs in the past), but it is overall very simple to implement. 

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We jumped right in with the first lesson – seed germination – and had to wait for our first results since it obviously required a little patience while the plants began to grow. During the week, while we waited, we worked through the questions in the student worktext, and kept an eye out for any developments in our seeds. 

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Meanwhile, we moved on to the next lesson and talked about animal classification – snakes (a line from Indiana Jones may be going through my mind now). This lesson had a hands-on coloring and creating project – snake puppets. We talked about venomous and n0n-venomous snakes and used bulb syringes (along with one of my hubby’s socks) to show how a snake’s venom works.  

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Lessons also include an extended teaching section if the topic is one your child enjoys and wants to go deeper into a specific area of learning.

In the last few weeks we have worked through five lessons, but the average pace for the program would be one lesson a week – very easy to fit into the schedule and also extend learning throughout the week as well. Other than the above, here are a few additional things to love:

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  • materials kit – hands down one of the best parts of the curriculum. So far we have had to provide very little (a sock, water, and a paper towel) – and the less I have to do, the easier it makes it to start a lesson!
  • minimal prep work – open the teacher’s guidebook and look at the materials required, pull them out of the box, and start
  • variety of lessons and topics covered in short/succinct manner, but with plenty of means for the student to learn 
  • student worktext is also full color, making it very visually appealing (teacher’s guidebook is a black/white version)
  • Scripture is added at the end of each lesson (a little food for thought) and journal space as well
  • discussion questions are a part of each lesson in the student worktext, allowing lesson review
  • lesson quiz/wrap-up is also included at the back of the teacher’s guidebook (optional)

 

One reader recently emailed asking how this has compared to other science programs we have used in the past. The short answer is –  a bit. :) The longer answer is we have used programs that were more scripted from start to finish (teacher says ___ and student answer would be ____). In comparison, A Reason for Science has more wiggle room and while information is provided for learning, the focus is more on the student arriving at their own conclusions through the learning process. A Reason for Science also (so far) has been a bit more hands-on for us. The full-color student text also is very visually appealing – which I love! 

10% off Educents Coupon!

Educents is offering my readers a discount code until January 31, 2017. 

Save 10% SITEWIDE with promo code STOCKUP at checkout!
Purchase A Reason for Science here!

 

Are You Familiar with Educents?

homeschool_ad300x250Educents is an online marketplace where you can find  affordable educational products. They provide daily deals to students, parents and educators by working with established educational suppliers. Whether it is a science kit, curriculum pack, books or art supplies, they make sure that Educents has the lowest price – helping more than 300,000 teachers, homeschoolers, and parents gain access to affordable educational materials.

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Kwik Stix Paints Review – Art Supplies Every Family Needs!

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There are some new art supplies in our house that everyone is in love with – Kwik Stix. The mom (and neat freak in me) is absolutely in love with these solid paint sticks and wishes we had them years ago!  All of the kids have had fun painting with them over the last few weeks and we would love to share more about them with you all as well. 

Disclaimer: I received these products in exchange for review on my blog. The opinions expressed on my site are my own, and were not influenced by the company or free product provided.

What Exactly Are Kwik Stix? 

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In short, Kwik Stix are quick and easy paints to use. Rather than pulling out brushes and lots of runny paint (or needing to mix up tempera paint from powder), Kwik Stix are solid tempera paint sticks that come in a tube similar to a glue stick. They come in a variety of colors too. We received packs of Kwik Stix Metalix, Kwik Stix Neon, and a Classic 12 pack of assorted Kwik Stix colors. 

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Honestly we weren’t sure what to expect at first, but the paint comes out incredibly smooth and dries right away (packaging says 90 seconds although we didn’t time it – it was quick). If the paint gets a little low, simply twist the bottom of the stick and more paint comes up from the tube. 

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Now I don’t know about your kids, but we have one (or two) that are a little bit particular when it comes to their painting endeavors. They don’t like mixing colors – and heaven forbid anything should smear! Kwik Stix were FABULOUS in this regard because they dried quickly and we could go from one color to the next without overlap or mixing. 

In addition no messes, I have to say that I absolutely love the lack of clean up on my part. Other than making sure caps are put back on each Kwik Stik, there was no paint on the table, hands, floor – or anywhere it shouldn’t be. While I do think various art mediums are good for kids to work with, these have definitely made their way into the ‘priority to use’ part of our supplies because of their simplicity of use. 

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We have loved these enough that I am planning to purchase a pack of the thin Kwik Stix for more detailed projects. Kaleb especially has loved these and they will work well with his art curriculum this year. Above is his finished Home Art Studio project that was done on watercolor paper using some of the neon and classic Kwik Stix. (See the video for a peek at him working on the project.)

If you have a local Target, they are now carrying Kwik Stik and you can also purchase them on Amazon. Definitely a ‘must add’ to your art supplies! 

Enter to Win a Kwik Stik Package

One of you will win a Kwik Stix package – the same sets we were sent to review: 12 pack, metalix, and neon! Enter to win using Rafflecopter below.  Open to US addresses only.  Giveaway ends November 20, 2016 at 11:59 pm.

Be sure to visit The Pencil Grip site and learn more about Kwik Stix through the following sites: 

Website:  http://www.thepencilgrip.com
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/thepencilgrip
Pinterest:  https://www.pinterest.com/KwikStixPaint/
Twitter:  https://twitter.com/ThePencilGrip

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Robotics for Kids – Building Q the Robot

EEME is a blog sponsor and we received this product free for the purpose of reviewing it. All opinions expressed are my personal, honest opinions. You can read my full disclosure policy for more details. 

robotics-for-kids-building-q-the-robot

Over the last year Zachary has learned so much about circuits, and this past month he was able to dip his toe into a bit of robotics thanks to EEME. When you add in his curiosity of robots thanks to movies like Star Wars, the opportunity to create his own robot was something he couldn’t wait to do. I am beyond thrilled with the new line of robotics products coming from EEME – and I think you will love them too. 

Q the Robot

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Q the Robot is a project kit that will guide your child through the process of building a 3 wheeled robot that follows light. He is the first in a series of robotics projects from EEME – and there is no coding required to get started! Once completed, Q follows light around using two sensors, or photoresistors. When light is shined directly onto the sensors, Q turns to follow the light. 

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Included in the kit: 

  • 4 AA batteries (if you accidentally leave your robot on, you’ll need to replace these – *cough*) 
  • 2 large wheels and a caster wheel
  • 2 motors
  • chassis platform for body of robot
  • a LOT of small parts (screws, nuts, capacitors, photoresistors, labels, velcro, brass posts, switch, resistors, transistors, wires, and LED light) 

Over the course of 34 short lessons, kids ages 10 and up will be able to build their own robot. For our 11 year old, it took a little over an hour.

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I managed to snap a few pictures of Zachary in the building process, but the truth is – he did the bulk of it on his own. Initially I walked into the schoolroom one afternoon and found him snapping his own pictures to show the building process. 

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After snapping a few pictures, Zachary went to work on the body of the robot. With this project we did need to pull a few supplies from around the house, including a screwdriver, scissors, a pen, and a flashlight stronger than 300 lumens. 

robotics for kids - Q the robot from EEME project
All in all, it was a project that didn’t require as much wiring as some of the past projects we’ve worked on from EEME, a little more ‘building,’ and a lot more learning about how photo resistors work. 

Below is a short clip where Zachary explains the various components of the robot and how everything works. (Feed readers can watch here). 

Skills Learned from EEME

playing with Q the robot

One of the things I love most about the projects we’ve worked on with EEME is the independence Zachary has learned in the process. While I typically am around while he works on his latest electronic creation, and was very excited to see the Q the Robot project, I managed to miss out on the bulk of his newest creation because he has become so independent. Zachary pulled out the iPad, logged onto the site for the video tutorials, and completed the bulk of the project without me knowing he was working on it. I only knew he was done when Q started running on the floor behind me! 

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He has learned to problem solve and review if he cannot figure something out – before coming to me with questions. When his robot didn’t initially work, he went back to watch a few short videos and see what he may have missed – turns out it was something he connected wrong. Although it was frustrating for a moment, he is also learning to pay careful attention and not try to skip ahead all the time (something he tends to do). Working with circuits and electronics has taught him there is a process to getting things done

Here’s another quick video showing how Q moves around in the house – just remember to turn the switch off when you’re done, or you may need to replace the batteries (wink). Fortunately, that was MY fault. There is a handy light to alert you the battery pack is still on. 

More Q the Robot to Come!!

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EEME makes hands-on projects and provides FREE online lessons to teach kids electronics, fostering their curiosity for how things work and prepping them for the STEM opportunities of tomorrow. Each project kit is paired with online curricula to not only show your family how to assemble the kit, but more importantly, teach them how it works.

Continuing robotics projects are in the works (one level is already available) that will build on the base Q the robot – and the next step involves coding! Read more about the future EEME robotics projects on their blog

Monthly subscription projects and various project kits are also offered from EEME. Be sure to check out a few of our other project reviews: Project AmpProject DIY Light DisplayProject Attraction, Project Tentacle, and Project Genius

Don’t miss the FREE interactive online lessons to teach your family the fundamentals of electronics. Sign up for FREE to access EEME’s online lessons.

Follow the EEME blog or find them on Facebook, PinterestInstagram, and Twitter.

 

Perfect for ages 10+

Time Required: 1-2 hours

Parental involvement: varies based on child

 

Homeschool Science Kits

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This year we decided to take a more informal approach to science and focus on experiments and other hands-on learning opportunities. Our youngest absolutely loves the chance to explore, create, and build, so when we were given the opportunity to try a homeschool science kit from Insight to Learning, we knew it would fit right in with our plans for the year! We were sent the fourth grade engineering design kit, one of the kits included in the fourth grade subscription, and had so much fun with the five activities we worked on from the engineering kit. 

 

Homeschool Science Kits

home-school-science-kit-from-insight-to-learninga peek inside the 4th grade engineering kit – each activity is individually bagged

One of the unique things about Insight to Learning is the opportunity of a homeschool subscription by grade level or purchasing individual kits for your child. Both offer different perks, but here are few things to love about the grade level homeschool subscriptions. 

Everything you need is included in the box. I’m a huge fan of not having to plan or gather materials, so when everything needed is included, pre-packaged for you, and the experiments are ready to go, it’s a huge bonus. Pull out the teacher’s manual, the activity bag, activity sheets, and start learning! You’ll have the chance to work through various experiments without the hassle of scouring your house trying to find everything you need at the last minute.

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No need to purchase expensive equipment you won’t use again. Subscriptions include everything needed, along with a prepaid label to return all of the durable equipment (the stuff you wouldn’t use again). 

A new kit every 6-8 weeks. Work through the kits at your own pace, and when you are finished, box up the durable equipment, ship it back, and a new kit will be on the way to you.  Each box you receive has five to six activities for your family to work through, separately packaged, and there are five complete kits with each grade level (a total of 25 activities). 

Each of the homeschool science kits focuses on vocabulary words for the activity, explains how to complete the activity, and also provides questions to ask. As children design and complete activities, they evaluate their creations using the go-along activity sheets. 

If you like the looks of a particular level kit, each of the kits in the homeschool subscription is available for purchase and also comes ready to teach – and you don’t have to return a thing

Inside Our Engineering Science Kit

Over the last few weeks I’ve been sharing a peek into our activities from Insight to Learning via Facebook and Instagram. Our homeschool subscription came with five activities from the fourth grade engineering kit: building a parking garage, fixing a roof, straw rockets, boat racing, and water filtration. Two of the activities Kaleb loved the most were fixing a roof and water filtration. 

Fixing the Roof…

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In this activity, Kaleb was given the problem of constructing a house following specific guidelines and using only the materials provided: straws, paper, tape, glue, and scissors. The main goal was to make sure water would run off the roof of the house and not collect. 

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Trying to visualize the lines of the roof was difficult at first, so we took a little trip outside to see how our own roof lines were designed (since we know water runs off properly). This helped him get a better idea how to set up a porch and build. The paper house was one he built by himself (very, very meticulously, I might add – and likely took much longer than the activity slotted time might have been). 

Water Filtration Activity

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This was the one activity Kaleb wanted to do over and over again. He took great joy in making water as disgusting as he could (creek water + dirt + charcoal from our fire pit = nasty). 

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Using the items in our activity bag from Insight to Learning, we constructed a water filtration system. After running our water through once, Kaleb tried adding a little more sand and also more rocks to see if the filtration would be any better – and also ran it through the filter twice. The second filtration definitely helped out. 

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You can see in the above picture how much was actually cleaned out of the water and caught in the larger rocks. Granted the final product wasn’t quite enough to make him want to drink it, but so much better!  

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The other three experiments we enjoyed as well, although one of them we couldn’t get to work as instructed (the boat race). We decided to try some alternate ideas for the boat activity, but still couldn’t get it quite right as our boat kept flipping over and partially sinking. Building an 18″ tall garage was a little challenging for Kaleb, especially when I knocked it over while measuring (he may have been at 16″ when that happened). He earned big kudos for rebuilding and making it stronger in the process (grins).

Try a Homeschool Subscription

From kindergarten through fifth grade, Insight to Learning offers science kits with a homeschool subscription option. If you have more than one child participating, add $5/month to any subscription and receive enough materials for two students. 

First time subscribers can also save 50% on their first month’s subscription – no expiration date for this special! Simply sign up via the website form, and Insight to Learning will mail a check for $12.50 in your first shipment – don’t worry, their system alerts them to first time subscribers. View the full kit terms here

Follow Insight to Learning on the following social media sites: 

 

Thanks so much to Insight to Learning for sharing one of their kits with us! 

 

Learning How to Make an Electromagnet – Project Attraction from EEME

Learning about electromagnets with Project Attraction from EEME

One of the best additions to our homeschool time this year has been the projects from EEME. Zachary has absolutely loved the hands-on learning and put it well into practice. One could say he is ‘wired’ this way (and yes, the pun was definitely intended)!

Learning about electronics one project at a time and gaining the knowledge of the ‘why’ behind how things work has been encouraging and confidence-building for Zachary. He has since started asking his dad to help out with projects (or may have attempted some on his own – cough), but it has given him a much deeper interest in how and why things work the way they do. 

Learning How to Make an Electromagnet

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Using Project Attraction from EEME, Zachary learned how magnetism is related to electricity and built an electromagnet. The project taught about: 

  • reed switches
  • electric current and heat

Overall, Zachary was able to finish the project in about an hour and a half (build time is approximately 1.5-2.5 hours) because he had a little bit of a hang up on one portion of the process and needed my help. Typically, he is able to work through the steps without parental help (I love that), but the fine wire used in the building of the electromagnet was more challenging and  required a little assistance from me at that point in the project. 

As with all of their projects, there are short step-by-step video tutorials to follow along in the building process. All of the materials needed for the project were enclosed in the box and detailed in the first video:

  • a small magnet
  • an LED
  • a 2″ wire
  • a resistor
  • a reed switch
  • a metal bolt with tape around thread
  • a thin wire coil
  • sandpaper
  • AA battery
  • rubberband
  • paperclip

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The timing of this project from EEME couldn’t have been better. As part of one of our co-op classes for The Mad Scientists Club book, the kids participated in a science fair where they chose a short story read during the year and then worked on a project based on what they learned. They needed to explain the scientific principle behind the project and create a display to showcase their learning. 

The electromagnet project fit in perfectly with the story “The Voice in the Chimney,” and Zachary was able to base his entire science display on this project. (We won’t talk about the short detour he took after putting together the project when he considered creating a much larger electromagnet using his father’s riding lawn mower battery. Fortunately, someone caught onto the boy’s mind meandering and he lived to see another day.)

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On a much more sane note, Zachary put together a science board explaining how electromagnets worked and showed the one he had created using Project Attraction and then another he tried on his own following the same principles learned in the video clips from EEME. I love that he was able to use the one project as a jumping off point to create more and learn more!

One of the big things learned during this process was the heat generated when creating the electromagnet (the bigger one he created generated more heat, so THANK GOODNESS he didn’t get far on the one with the lawnmower battery). The current flowing through creates the warmth/heat and the battery can also quickly drain if left connected. 

Things to LOVE About EEME

Aside from the fact that all the supplies are included in each of the EEME project kits, the video curriculum is well put together and explain the building process in detail. Each of the videos is between 2 – 10 minutes long. In addition:

  • videos explain the step-by-step process AND the principles involved (how/why something works) – a huge help for parents who don’t know the answers themselves (cough)
  • shorter videos help those with limited attention spans
  • comprehension questions ensure kids are understanding what you are doing
  • videos can be stopped/paused if needed during the process
  • the videos are free to watch – check them out here and get a peek!

The projects would be wonderful extensions to current curriculum or even as after school learning – or even make a great gift! There are different purchase options available, including a basic monthly subscription, individual projects, and a 6 month Project Set. They have different purchase options, and we’ve completed the first four projects so far from the basic subscription.  You can find more information on the EEME website, or follow them on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and Twitter.

Learn More About EEME

EEME makes hands-on projects and provides FREE online lessons to teach kids electronics, fostering their curiosity for how things work and prepping them for the STEM opportunities of tomorrow.

Each project kit is paired with online curricula to not only show your family how to assemble the kit, but more importantly, teach them how it works.

They also have FREE interactive online lessons to teach your family the fundamentals of electronics. Sign up for FREE to access EEME’s online lessons.

Project Attraction is one of the projects in the Builder Basic 6 Project Set and also the fourth project in EEME’s monthly subscription program. Zachary has thoroughly enjoyed all he has worked on (especially Project Amp) – a HUGE thumbs up from our family!

As I mentioned, we’ve worked on several other projects from EEME. If you’re interested in learning more about their monthly subscription program, be sure to check out the below posts for more information:

Building an electromagnet with Project Attraction - EEME

Project Attraction is perfect for ages 7+

Time Required: 1.5 – 2.5 hours

Parental involvement: varies based on child

 

We received this kit as part of a review campaign, and this review is our honest opinion. Our family has loved the various projects and highly recommends them.