Review – Kids First Amusement Park Engineer

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Publisher Thames & Kosmos

Category STEM Building Toy

Player Count 1+

Kids First Amusement Park Engineer is a preschool STEM kit with 20 models for little ones to build. With close to 100 pieces in the box, it provides hours of hands-on, educational fun for the engineers of tomorrow. Let’s check it out!

Review

As a parent of two young kids, I’m always on the lookout for ways to engage their creativity. I myself grew up on building toys like K’NEX, Capsela, and LEGO, and I want the same for my children.

Kids First Amusement Park Engineer is a building set for young minds. Its projects follow a narrative about a pair of children learning about engineering at a visit to a theme park. As the story progresses, players will build rides like a ferris wheel, a log flume, and a free-fall tower.

The instructions are illustrated step by step. At 4 years old, my daughter was able to make the simpler builds largely by herself, and the more advanced ones with a little help from dad. Each time she completed a build, she was proud of it and excited to play with her creation. It made her feel intelligent, and it was also fun for me, the adult, to build alongside her and watch her problem-solving.

As we progressed through the projects, we talked about some of the underlying physics/engineering principles. The different models provide a great springboard for questions like:

  • “When the car goes down the ramp, do you think it will go faster or slower?”
  • “When the ship starts swinging, will it swing forever, or will it stop?”
  • “If one side of the seesaw was longer than the other, would it work as well?”

Intuitively, my daughter already understands concepts like gravity and acceleration, but the act of talking them out with her helped her understand them more deeply.

Like any good building toy, a huge part of the fun of Amusement Park Engineer comes from free-play. My daughter had—and continues to have—a great time building her own creations. The pieces are all durable plastic and nicely oversized for small hands. They fit together snugly, but are still easy for a kid to take apart. As an added touch, this version comes in a sturdy plastic tub with a convenient carrying handle. (Side note: there is another version which comes in a regular box, so be aware of that difference if you decide to purchase this kit.)

The only thing my daughter struggled with was using the small connector pieces. There are several different types of connector blocks which look similar and can be a bit difficult for a child to distinguish. Thankfully though, these pieces are secondary in most builds, and again, parental help is encouraged.

We have had a lot of fun with this set, and I will surely share it with my son when he gets to be preschool age. If you have little kids in your life and you want to foster an interest in STEM, Kids First Amusement Park Engineer is a great way to do so.

A review copy was provided by Thames & Kosmos.

The Bottom Line

Amusement Park Engineer is a great toy for introducing STEM concepts to little kids. Highly recommended for preschoolers.

 

8.0

Author: Stephen Hall

A bard pretending to be a cleric. Possibly a Cylon, too. I was there when they dug up the "E.T." cartridges.