So I said last week that I'm really limiting the amount of tech products that my kids get this holiday season. They've been limited to two devices (from LeapFrog) plus a couple of games to accompany them.
Instead, I'm trying to focus on just a few toys that encourage active play, critical thinking, or some other skill development. Last Monday, I mentioned the Showcam and how we've been able to use it to develop their observation skills, as well as their presentation skills through assignments that use the camera/projector.
Today's review is of a product that quite honestly, I had never heard of before a month ago. KRE-O sets are hard to describe without using the word LEGO, because they are building blocks that use a similar inter-locking connection system. BUT - can I say this? - they're even better. Yikes! There. I said it.
I say that because this super fun set also has one special part to it: The deck under the building has buttons on it that make the board vibrate just a little bit causing the shark and the shark hunter, Ray Manta, to actually move across the base board. It's hilarious! My kids' shouts of excitement brought me running into the room after they had put it together, installed the AAA batteries, and pushed one of the little buttons on the side. There are actually four buttons: One turns on the vibration and sound effects (it makes ocean sounds!), the second one turns off the ocean sounds, and the final two increase or decrease the amount of vibration (it's not obnoxious or intense, thank goodness). You can remove and attach the special base pieces to any of the Kreons (and even the boat, as we discovered) to make them move across the water, too.
But really and truly, this little extra facet to the set keeps the kids going back to it and playing with it over and over even after there is nothing left to build.
This set encourages imaginative play, which I also really like. After darting the injured shark, my kids transported it to the local ocean life rehab center for medical attention before it was released out into the open ocean again. (He has a bad habit, though, of showing up at the marina over and over again, sometimes scaring the locals!)
It comes with five Kreons (human) figures and a shark. Many of the parts are moveable even after assembly, and there's even a little crane grabber thingy for moving the dangerous shark back into his cage.
The set does come with a free app code, for those of you who'd like to extend the play into another area. I think my kids spend enough time playing with apps, so we have not activated/downloaded it. Maybe I'll do it someday, but for now, I'm happy with - and prefer - their hands-on imaginative playing.
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