Monday, March 9, 2015

Brainy Box - Polar Kit, A Guest Review Post

Brainy Box - Polar Kit, A Guest Review Post by KD

Miss Amanda has been a part of our lives for approximately 3 1/2 years.  During that time, she has exposed me to a variety of different teaching methods and styles.  I have utilized all of her tot packs and preschool packs for my four year old daughter. I was raised in Montessori and tend to be drawn to Montessori materials, Montessori inspired blogs, and Montessori curriculums.  When Miss Amanda asked me to review Brainy Kits ( I was overjoyed.

The Polar Kit arrived in a very organized and easy to use manner.  The teacher's manual was easy to understand and referenced the materials to be used for each lesson.

For lesson 1, I presented and invited my two girls (age 2 and age 4) to explore insta-snow and miniature animals according to the instructions.  The girls loved the insta-snow and the animal critters.  Even my two year old stayed engaged for much longer than usual (just over an hour).  My four year old answered the majority of the questions and the two year old parroted her.  They played together during the imaginative play portion of the activity.  The activity was intended to be an hour and my girls were engaged for a little longer than an hour.  Clean up with the girls was a bit challenging and messy, so I invited them to undress in the laundry room where their clothing could be put straight in the wash and invited them to dress themselves in new outfits while I cleaned up the insta-snow.
My four year old talked a lot about snow, cold, ice, melting, hibernation and caves.  Both girls enjoyed the animals swimming in a bowl of water and transferring snow from one tray to another.  My four year old didn't know the names of all the miniature animals and asked for clarification.  The Amazing Arctic Animal books and laminated cards were helpful in identifying the miniature animals and discussing facts of the various animals.

For lesson 2, my 2 year old often can be disruptive and distracted when doing Montessori mat activities.  To my surprise she was attentive and participated the entire activity.  She tried to pronounce the names of each of the animals and was totally engaged when I invited the girls to match the animals with the corresponding cards.  My two year old surprised me when she correctly matched all the animals to the corresponding cards.  The girls took turns.  My four year old enjoyed describing the similarities and differences between the various animals.
For lesson 3, the girls enjoyed holding the miniature animals as I read the story.  After reading about 3/4 of the book, my daughters asked if they could pretend to be the polar animals.  I invited them to put away the miniature animals and their Montessori mats.  The girls were very creative and played together as the arctic animals for about 45 minutes.

For lesson 4, my four year old participated in the directed activity.  I had my two year old utilize the penguin puzzle, so that she had an activity to do independently.  I asked my child what the animals were wearing and her initial response was that they were naked.  I mentioned the fur and features.  She sweetly responded with, "Mommy, that is the skin of the animal, it's just different than our skin." This was a wonderful place to start a dialogue.
Lesson 5 was approached differently with both girls.  It was a snow day, so the lesson applied to a real experience.  For my 2 year old, I set her up with the real snow in a bowl representing arctic land and a second bowl of water representing arctic water.  She placed the miniature animals in either the water or land bowl. Meanwhile, my four year old participated in the lesson as directed.  My two year old continued with the sensory activity as I moved my four year old into lesson 6.

Lesson 6 was completed by my four year old independent of her younger sibling.  I was surprised at how little I needed to say to get her to describe the animals in their arctic environment.  She enjoyed the landscape and applying the stickers to the terrain.
Lesson 7 was facilitated all together.  The girls worked nicely together to explore the North and South Pole.  My four year old began teaching the two year old various ideas from the previous lessons.  I chose to observe as they discussed.  My four year old took the Venn Diagram and immediately began sorting the laminated cards before I could facilitate instructions.  It was a great moment to watch and observe the content that my four year old had learned from the polar kit activities.  The conversations of arctic animals continued throughout their free-play. I found myself laughing when they began creating arctic terrain with their Duplos.

As a proactive parent who participates in various homeschooling activities and utilized various curriculums, I would be interested in discovering other brainy kits in the future.  It was a nice experience for our whole family and I appreciated the materials being easy to use and engaging for my girls.

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