Wednesday, August 19, 2015
Why are we not encouraging the next generation of girls to continue on in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) as much as we do for boys? Sure, we let them play with blocks and construction toys, but those have long been classified as for boys, so is it really any wonder that girls tend to lose interest in these subjects by the age of 8? In the US, less than 15% of women enter college intending to major in a STEM field, isn't it time to change that?
Fortunately, companies are beginning to realize the importance of encouraging and inspiring the future of female innovators and engineers. Instead of simply sitting back and hoping that girls will decide to play with traditionally "boy" toys on their own, it's time to revolutionize the way that we motivate girls to look at the world with Build & Imagine.
Founded by a female award-winning toy designer, Build & Imagine was formed when Laurie Peterson wanted to close the gap in the girls' section of most toy stores and include more experiences involving building, creativity and experimentation.
The result is an amazing line of magnetic construction sets (which include leading female characters, of course) filled with rich colors and endless details that ensure users are always discovering something new. While each set contains a variety of shapes of the illustrated panels, the fact that there is no wrong way to join them together is an instant inspiration for the creativity of young builders.
Instead, girls create scenes both big and small and are then able to bring them to life with the enclosed dress-up dolls, costume pieces, animals, objects, foods, and more. In essence, Build & Imagine puts girls into the role of architect, engineer, builder, designer, storyteller and more!
We were fortunate to have the opportunity to try out all three of the current Build & Imagine sets — Malia's Beach House, Marine Rescue Center, and Day At The Beach — and from the moment we started removing the pieces from the box, it was already easy to see how this one toy could help encourage my girls' STEM skills.
These parts are just asking to be assembled, disassembled, built and rebuilt time and again! Starting with the Marine Rescue Center...
...our eyes grew wide at the dolphins, sea lions, turtles, otters, laboratory gear, and more that came along with Thea and her rescue center.
Combine all 30 of the magnetic accessories with Thea and the 15 dual-sided building panels and I have to admit that I was itching to start building my own creation!
Instead, Big Sister E and Little Sister B went right to work collaborating on their own rescue center, discussing various building ideas and trying out one option after another. I love when a toy is not only educational and entertaining but one that encourages my kids to happily work together!
While the proposed idea behind this set is serious and important (for kids to help Thea on her mission to save endangered sea animals by caring for wounded wildlife at the rescue center), I do love that kids can take it in any direction that they choose.
For instance, this single set was enough to launch plenty of imaginative play and discussions about what we can do to help keep animals safe, but at the same time my girls had a blast with the jet ski, feeding supplies, otter rehab tank, and more — including creating pretend rooms such as the whale painting room and the fish game room. Why not?
At the same time, our curiosity ensured that we couldn't leave Malia's Beach House and the Day At The Beach sets sitting for too long. There was too much Build & Imagine adventure awaiting us!
As suspected, both of these sets were just as colorful, detailed and incredible as the Marine Rescue Center... possibly even more so as they both come with two characters to seamlessly work into story after story.
Considering that my two young architect storytellers had already been having a blast constructing, they had no problem going further into the world of Build & Imagine with even more dual-sided building panels and magnetic accessories.
From marveling at all of the possibilities to build Malia's Beach House with a swimming pool, multiple bedrooms and bathrooms, kitchen, living room, clothing, pets, and much more for Malia and Skyler...
...to finding out all sorts of ways to put together a beachside cafe and surf shop for Emily and Lucas with lifeguard stand, walk-up cafe window, beach gear, clothing, tools, rescue items (safety first!) and more.
There really is no going wrong with these sets and I have loved seeing my girls return to them over and over to try something new, build in a different way, test out various constructions for walls and roofs, and work together (or alone) to come up with their own miniature magnetic world. Build & Imagine has managed to create something completely enchanting (yet so full of STEM learning) that it is hard to put down!
Each of these three sets are recommended for ages 4+, which I feel is right due to the number of very small pieces and the coordination that it sometimes takes to get the walls or pieces balanced and built just right. But really all you need is a little innovation and creativity, as Build & Imagination gives simple tips and steps to follow as you delve deeper into their world...
...and begin to build until your heart is content.
For us, my kids immediately realized that all of the pieces from each of the individual sets can easily be combined and used for just about any sort of other creation. Girls simply have to use their imagination and the sky is the limit in building and constructing!
Although it can be argued that just about any toy has benefits and encourages kids to practice a variety of skills (e.g. small motor, creativity, reading, etc), there is a smaller number that truly manage to inspire... and Build & Imagine is one of them! Each of their sets are just right to inspire the next generation of innovators and help girls think beyond only the toys that are princess and pink.
In short, Build & Imagine is the perfect way to encourage all kids to see their world in a different way as they collect, build, interchange, design, cooperate, and come up with endless storytelling possibilities to go along with them!
The three Build & Imagine play sets (Marine Rescue Center, Malia’s Beach House, and Day At The Beach) can be purchased in stores, directly from BuildandImagine.com, on Amazon or from other e-tailers, where they retail between $49.99 and $59.99. Even better, there are two new activity sets coming this fall, Fairytale Theatre and Pet Portrait Studio!
To find out much more about these innovative, educational toys, connect with Build & Imagine online as well as on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube — and sign up for their monthly newsletter for insider news and deals!
Other than the three sets that I was provided by Build & Imagine in order to facilitate my review, I was not compensated or enticed to do this post in any way. This review is solely my honest opinion about this product.