BabbaCo contacted me recently and asked if I might want to do a product review and a giveaway of one of their Babbaboxes. I had heard of BabbaCo earlier when I stumbled upon them during a late night web surfing marathon. Of course I immediately said yes, as I wanted to get one to see how it worked for my own children.
Current ages of children are 8,6,4. I wanted the BabbaBox to work for the entire age range of my children. When the box arrived, the kids were eager to rip it open and tear it apart. I needed photographs so I made them sit on the stairs as I tried to capture the box itself. Children were screeching with excitement in the background as I tried photographing, as anything that comes in a box, to them, is already completely spectacular.
As we opened the box, Daughter #2 (age 6) immediately went for the book and read it cover to cover. Daughter #1 (age 8) gravitated towards two of the crafts - a paper mache night light (very cool) as well as a project that involved sun print paper. Son (age 4) grabbed the binoculars and immediately began reeling around the house trying to figure out the use. Then there was a flurry as the different item changed hands, and the inevitable chorus began.
"WHEN ARE WE GOING TO DO SOMETHING WITH THIS?
I grimaced, as I thought of the many list of things that I had to accomplish, but tried to calm myself and said, "We will do this altogether and see how much we can learn about the sun, moon and stars."
Over the next few days, we had an opportunity to try out different things inside our box. The binoculars came in particularly handy when we had a full moon a couple of days back. Son also used them to examine the hummingbird nest in the background as well as to magnify my face as an experiment. I used took the opportunity to explain that binoculars were created so that things that were far away could appear bigger and clearer.
We also did the paper mache, which was probably my least favorite thing, not because it wasn't a wonderful project, but I HATE glue messes. Daughters and Son got very involved in it however, and loved the paper mache messy aspect of it. I stood on the side, reminding them that we were trying to create a model of the moon for a night light, to which Daughter #1 stated, "But this is oval, and the moon is round." I countered with, "But this will give us a very nice approximation of the moon as well as a good representation of the surface of the moon. The moon's surface is not smooth."
As a teacher, this very much reminded me of a "lesson plan" that had many different props and resources provided, almost like a curriculum unit you could buy. It was really wonderful having the box at my ready, but with the flexibility to pick and choose what I wanted to do on a given day. I didn't cover the box in one day, and instead did bits of the box over the period of 10 days. When there was a lull in activity, I would ask the kids to get the box, and we would find something new to do in it, or review something that we had done before. Daughter #2 really liked the book "Twinkle Star of the Week" which she read several times over the course of our box.
On some levels, the BabbaBox was a bit "young" for Daughter #1. However, I used the BabbaBox as a jumping off point to have additional conversations with her. We talked about the phases of the moon and the effect on the tides, since we had just come back from the tide pools. I tried to make additional connections with her, about stars and the moon that we observed at night, using the BabbaBox as a starting point. She definitely needed a bit more meat than was provided in the box, but I was able to bridge that gap for her.
Which brings me to my final point - the BabbaBox is a wonderful thing, designed to help you engage with your child. It was created with that purpose in mind - resources to give you starting points and conversation points and activities to reinforce new concepts, but it definitely does not TEACH your child. YOU teach your child or children. You cannot give them the box and expect magic to happen - the magic is truly within you. (Oh wow, that sounds corny. ) The BabbaBox is a wonderful resource for parents, but in conjunction with the box, you will have to put in effort and thought into what you want your child to get out of it.
If you've got kids home for the summer, this would be an amazing resource to have some interesting projects to do with the kids. They have different boxes for different months, so there is a guarantee of new and exciting activities. Just for you, my fabulous readers, BabbaCo is giving Week of Menus its very own code for 20% off a BabbaBox. Use WOM20OFF.
In addition, BabbaCo is giving me a chance to give away a BabbaBox to one lucky reader! YAY!!! I'm trying out this new giveaway widget, so bear with me if it seems to have some issues.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
The giveaway entry time ends NEXT Friday, 12 AM, EST, so make sure you enter before then. This contest is only open to those who can receive a BabbaBox within the USA. (If you're from abroad and you have someone to send it to here, you're okay to enter.)
Good luck all!
Thursday, June 7, 2012
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