Around this time of year I post a gift recommendation each Friday as part of a “Gifts for the Gifted” series. The title is a bit misleading, as it might imply that the gifts are only for children who have been endowed with the label, and that is certainly not true. Just as with any gift, you should select a product that suits the interests of the receiver. These lists of potential gifts that I provide are ones that I feel will be engaging for children who enjoy problem solving and/or creativity.
I recently did a post about how Magna-tiles are a great addition to a makerspace. This magnetic building tool is incredibly versatile and fascinates students of all age levels in my elementary school. I’ve given Magnatiles to young children to play with as I conference with their parents and the older Maker Club students for building challenges.
Just yesterday, some of my 5th graders were trying to add some “flair” to one of their missions in the Wonder League Robotics Competition, and decided Magna-tiles would be the perfect prop to include in the video.
The first architectural marvel turned out to be a spectacular failure. (I’ll try to share the video later today.) The second one has potential but needs a bit more programming.
What I’ve learned, though, is that Magna-tiles really encourage children of various ages to use their imaginations – especially when they are collaborating with others. They can also be combined with other projects. Try using them with LittleBits (lighting up the clear colored set from within might be a nice challenge) or Legos, for example. If you do decide to gift them to a young person, remember that it’s important to show interest and give them suggestions. You can find some Random Building Challenges here.