STEM Product Review: Magnetic Building Block Set and #Giveaway!
Updated: Aug 22, 2018
Okay, this STEM product review of magnetic building blocks (or as I call them, magnetic tiles) is the first product review here on STEM Spark, and quite frankly my first written review for the internets to read (yes, I know the proper name is Internet, but internets is kind of fun to say) . Generally, when people ask me if I like a toy or product, I respond with a "yeah, I like it", or "meh, it was okay", or "I didn't really like it". I haven't typically elaborated on why I liked it or not, so let's set some ground rules for this review. When I ask others for whether they like products, I usually want more information than I provide (double standard, yeah yeah). Usually it breaks down into the following:
Will your kid(s) like it, or will you (the adult) hate it (that it don't matter if they like it)?
How long will it keep them entertained?
Was it a good value?
And (since this is a STEM blog) what are the ninja-secret STEM skills added through play?
So for the Kidsy's K-Tiles 72-Piece Set Magnetic Building Blocks - or in the much easier laygal's terms: magnetic tiles - I'll attempt to answer these questions specifically. Finally, because everyone's doing it, I'll give it an overall score as well.
Will your kids like it and/or will you hate it?
We first drew interest to magnetic tiles because our 3 year old really liked them at his daycare. Like obsessively liked them. Like, the other kids didn't get to play with them much. Because of this, we decided to find a set for him at home. As is the savior to many a parent these days, we took to Amazon to see what we could find on our time. To be frank, there are A LOT of brand options for magnetic tiles available on Amazon, but they all seemed to be comparable. We quickly whittled our selection down based on perceived bang-for-the-buck dollar-per-unit options, and (after about a nano-second of deliberation) we bought the Kidsy K-Tiles 72-Piece Set Magnetic Building Blocks, with a recommended age range from 24 months - 8 years (according the the Amazon page info). The magnetic tiles are very easy to build with, snapping and unsnapping together with ease. As much as I love some other type of building blocks, like brick blocks, these magnetic tiles are less frustrating - for both parents and children - in terms of snapping and unsnapping them together. Let's just say not only does my 3 year old sometimes struggle to unsnap brick blocks, but I do too (why must you stick together brick block, why?!). That's not to say there won't be frustrations, as the shapes can make it easy to align the same poles, and tired kids get frustrated with tiles that repel each other.
How long will it keep them entertained?
I knew before we bought them that my son LOVED these tiles, so I might be a little biased, but I've found that my son can play for an extended time (hour plus) with the tiles by himself. And it has been this way since we bought them, more than four months ago. I have a feeling that, 20 to 30 years down the road, these tiles may elicit some nostalgia memes from our 3 year old. It remains one of his favorites and doesn't take much to keep him interested or get him reengaged in them.
Are they a good value?
Most of the toys and generic items we buy our 3 year old typically gets played with for a few days, only to wind up at the bottom of a toy pile lost and forgotten. Maybe we get a week or two. But given that we are still going strong more than four months later, we'll see it as a baseline for a good value. We bought the 72-piece set, and one of the nice things about the set is that while it comes with a great storage box, it doesn't count the box as one of the pieces of the set - which seems counter to the majority of what you find with today's piece-count-driven buys. The carrying case makes these a good STEM toy to bring to grandparents or friends' houses, parks, restaurants or wherever. We paid $29.98 for the 72-piece set at the time as it seemed to balance value, and us ultimately fearing the 120+ piece sets would result in an opportunity to discover lost pieces 120 times. I'd gladly buy this one again.
Ninja-like STEM Skills
Magnetic tiles are a great introduction to STEM learning through shapes, construction, and spatial reasoning. My three year old loves using his imagination as he plays, building castles, rocket ships, and ice cream cones out of these tiles. I love that it allows us to introduce the geometry words pyramid, cone, and cube to my son -- the math part in STEM for this product! To quote the babe, "they're square!" (that's also his review of the product, which is on point, haha). It's great to see him developing spatial skills, recognizing that four small squares are needed to make the same size as the large square, or that two triangles can be used in lieu of a square (if they are appropriately sized). I also love how tall you can build a "castle" with these tiles, which is another fun STEM challenge for kids: see how tall you can build a structure out of these tiles! And of course after building the tallest structure, my son loves to knock it down! Finally, kids get an introduction to magnetic poles, which (when not frustrating) teaches problem solving skills through orientation despite shape alignment.
Before giving out an overall rating for the Kidsy Magnetic Tiles, we should review the overall rating scale and what it means:
1 Star: Awful - Keep the receipt, you'll want to take this one back
2 Stars: Meh - save the packaging in case you need to re-gift it
3 Stars: Ok - good to give to classmates they aren't close to
4 Stars: Good - likely to be fun for a while
5 Stars: Great - You and your kids will look back fondly on this toy
Which leads me to the rating of this STEM toy. I would rate these tiles 5 out 5 but for two things (so it's not 5 out of 5): 1) sometimes if you line up a two of the same magnetic poles on two separate tiles, the tiles repel each other (which on a positive spin is another good STEM lesson on magnetic poles), which can frustrate my 3 year old as we're still learning about how magnets work, and 2) some of the sets are EXPENSIVE. Which brings me to grandparents and friends-- do you ever get asked by family and friends what they should get your child for a birthday or holiday, and you always draw a blank (oh, maybe it's just me)? Well, magnetic tiles/building blocks would be a great thing to ask for!
So in summary, I'd give this STEM product a 4.5 out 5. Very fun and easy to build with and to learn about different shapes, as well as they come with their own carrying case, but can be a little on the pricey side. And speaking on the pricey side, that's why I'm going to be doing a GIVEAWAY for a $10 (US dollars) Amazon e-gift card to help you buy some (or buy whatever you want)! This giveaway is open to everyone over the age 18 who has an email address (so that I can email the Amazon e-gift card to you) and runs from 8/22/18 midnight Eastern Time to 8/29/18 midnight Eastern Time! There will only be one winner, so just follow the Rafflecopter instructions below for multiple chances to be the lucky winner! Good luck, and happy STEM building and learning to everyone!