Encouraging Scientific Curiosity: Nat Geo Wild Toys
I've been told that to encourage scientific curiosity in my preschool-aged kids, I should just let them explore their natural world; let their instinctive curiosity and their desire to play drive their introduction to all things scientific. While at first I resisted this notion that hands-on experience was better than book learning, even at the ages of three and four, I now see the wisdom of such an approach. Now I seek out toys and educational materials that encourage that exploration, particularly for our home preschool experience. I recently received some products from National Geographic Wild and Uncle Milton's Toys that do that perfectly.
If you think about it, who better to provide a line of toys that encourage scientific curiosity than National Geographic Wild? As a club and a magazine publisher, National Geographic has existed for more than 120 years for the purpose of "increasing and diffusing geographic knowledge while promoting the conservation of the world's cultural, historical, and natural resources." As a publisher of National Geographic Kids magazine, they've existed for more than 35 years. As a disseminater of amazing visual content through the medium of television, they've existed for more than 10 years.
In particular, the Nat Geo WILD and Nat Geo WILD HD networks are a joint venture between National Geographic and Fox Cable Networks, and launched in 2010. The channels are carried by all of the nation’s major cable and satellite television providers, with Nat Geo WILD currently available in 55 million U.S. homes. Globally, Nat Geo WILD is available in more than 100 million homes in 90 countries and 28 languages. Because of their extensive associations and broad reach, they know a thing or two about encouraging playful scientific curiosity in kids.
The toys include such fun items as an anteater-shaped bug vac, various floor puzzles, memory match games, card games, dominoes, bear claw shovels, and exploration-style lanterns. They are manufactured by Uncle Milton, a toy company that knows a little about designing toys, having produced proprietary toys for more than 50 years. Today, they partner with brands like Star Wars™ Science, National Geographic, Nat Geo WILD, and Jim Henson’s Dinosaur Train™.
In My Opinion...
Me and my three-year-old son received a lantern and a large sea turtle floor puzzle from them. The lantern, at about 8" tall, is a cute little reproduction of an old-style Coleman lantern, in greys, greens, and blues. Turn its dial to the left, you get a comparatively bright lantern shine. Turn it to the right, you get light shining through the small dotted blue plastic dome on top, shining pinpricks of light that look to me like actual constellations on the ceiling of your child's darkened room.
My three-year-old carried his Starry Night Lantern around for three days straight, even taking it to bed with him every night. His dad, my husband, owns two or three actual telescopes, and strives to foster a fascination with all-things-space, even from a very young age. Hopefully, this toy will last ...
The puzzle is a 42-piece depiction of a sea turtle in its natural habitat. When assembled, it measures 2' x 3' and shows the turtle in great detail. While too big for my three-year-old to assemble unassisted, it is an awesome, hands-on play-oriented way to teach about sea turtles, while I asked my son to find an eye or "feel" its flipper, etc. Initially, we received a puzzle that was missing two pieces, but Nat Geo Wild replaced the puzzle without incident.
It's a little exciting to find products that complement my mission to encourage scientific interest in my kids. It facilitates my job as their guide in academics and in the natural world.
What are some of your favorite products/activities that get your kids exited about science?
I was provided with these products free-of-charge from Nat Geo Wild and Uncle Milton. All opinions expressed herein are my own.
Pictures courtesy of Nat Geo Wild.
Featured image courtesy of Flickr.