We are all a bit gadget mad in our house, it’s a bit hard not to be in this technological age. I love gadgets and gizmos, and that is now transferring to the kids. I do, however, at least try to make sure that a chunk of their gadget and electronics time isn’t spent staring at a tablet or playing on the Xbox, especially as there are so many fantastic, educational and engaging gadget type toys to pick from. My eldest has a clip-style circuit board kit that she loves and the youngest has a couple of junior coding toys. They get online homework from school that is completed virtually, and this often involves small coding tasks.
Tech Will Save Us offer a great range of STEM toys that encourage making and coding alongside play. We were delighted to receive the Sew & Glow Kit and as the weather (snow, sleet, ice and bitterly cold) has seen us stay indoors, it was great to have some educational, creative and fun to do.
The Sew & Glow kit is aimed at ages 8+. It is a small kit that combines basic sewing with a battery, circuits and LEDs to create badges that light up at the touch of a button. The kit contains everything you would need to do this, and there are suggestions for extension tasks which would require the purchase of a cheap t-shirt or other cheap items, to make something even more fun.
My daughters are nine and nearly seven years old. Once they saw the kit, they both wanted to join in. After unboxing the kit and checking the contents, I decided it would be appropriate for both of them, as long as I supported by younger daughter with some of the trickier bits. The box contained:
- Two badge templates to help with your creations
- Four coloured felt squares to build your badges with
- Sewing thread to attach the badges to your bag or clothes
- Electro-thread to make your creations light up
- A pen to help draw out your designs
- The sew & glow battery pack to make your ideas come alive
- Two Tech-moji templates for inspiration
- Fifteen connectors to build your circuits with
- Two needles to help you sew
- An easy to access manual available on all devices
First, we checked that all the components required were in the box, and once established that everything was present and correct, we logged on to the Tech Will Save Us website and created an account. This account can then be used with any TWSU products they may accumulate and is a lovely record of their progress as well as being a very thorough, accessible instruction manual and providing extension activities to push and further develop understanding.
Next, we selected the Sew & Glow Kit from the list and got started. The portal really is fantastic! We found that the instructions were simple, engaging and pitched at just the right level for an 8+ child to be able to follow pretty much independently. That isn’t to say my eldest found it easy; she absolutely didn’t, but it was pitched at a level whereby she wasn’t discouraged from continuing if she was struggling. The initial tutorial is broken up into bite-sized chunks with estimated times for completion. I think this is as it gives the child, or the parent/guardian, an indication of whether they want to move on to the next part or leave it for later. As we worked our way through the tutorial, they earn little badges and can see their progress which is something that I think works really well with young kids and it means that they are able to pace themselves and know how close to completion their project is.
Once you followed the tutorial and mastered the basics, there are lots and lots of other projects, all with simple, visual step-by-step guides for the children to complete and organised by difficulty. Again, we found this great as it meant that I could steer the girls to the projects that were most appropriate for their ability and they didn’t become frustrated.
Both of my girls loved this kit. My youngest did need support, but because we do crafts as a family anyway, she is quite dextrous and already does some basic sewing, so she was fine with it. We only wish there were two battery packs included as trying to explain that they must un-pick their hard work to then create another badge isn’t ideal. Still, it doesn’t detract from the fun and educational value of this toy and we really enjoyed trying it out.
This kit has been fantastic, especially as we didn’t want to venture out in the cold (and much better that playing on their tablets or watching television). TWSU have kits to suit all budgets and there are some fabulous ones in the range, so there is bound to be something to suit all interests, there are even kits suitable for kids as young as 4!
A fun, educational and creative way to spend an afternoon.
For more information or to buy visit www.techwillsaveus.com.