Tag Archives: Junior Scholars

Design and Drill – Review

It’s taken me a little while to get around to reviewing the second item we received at the Junior Scholars event which was a few weeks ago.  We quickly reviewed the Magic Science kit, which we loved, and then we took the Design and Drill set away with us when we went to stay at my mum’s house.  I was really looking forward to this one, as I’ve wanted to try it for a long time.  The children were all very excited too, and we had to work hard to get them to take turns as they couldn’t wait to get started.  We had a little trouble with the drill at first, as it was wired up incorrectly so forward meant reverse, and vice versa.  However, once we realised what was going on it was easy to work around.  Unfortunately though, after about ten minutes of playing, the drill stopped working.  The children were obviously disappointed, but I told them I would find out about getting a replacement drill and that we would probably be able to try it out again at home.

I emailed the team at Junior Scholars and got a very prompt and helpful response.  They mentioned that it was unusual, as Learning Resources products are generally very reliable, and in my experience that is certainly true.  It was obviously just a faulty batch, and they quickly arranged for a replacement drill to be sent out.  We received it over a week ago, and tested it out the weekend before last, so most of the delay has been caused by illness, being too busy and me struggling to keep up with my mountain of overdue posts.

The Design and Drill Activity Center is aimed at children aged 3 to 7, and it certainly appealed to Monkey, Rabbit and Tiddler (aged 7, 5 and 3).  Owl (aged 9) liked it too, although it didn’t hold his attention for quite as long.

The set includes an activity board with 100 holes, 10 double-sided pattern cards, 100 plastic bolts in 5 bright colours, a combination spanner, a junior power drill with reverse function, a hand drill and 3 different drill bits.  The power drill requires 3 AA batteries, which are not included.  At £29.95, I think it is really good value for money as there is a lot of things that the children can do with it, from simple drilling to complicated designs, so they won’t get bored of it easily.

design drill contents one 1

design drill contents two 2

design drill contents three 3

Second time round, it was a great success.  All the children loved it, and this time there were no problems with the drill.  Tiddler really enjoyed using it and spent some time practising putting the bolts in and taking them out.  The older children were quite patient while he did this, and they used the small hand drill to add and remove some bolts as well.  After a while, Tiddler had had enough, and then Monkey and Rabbit had a chance to create some pictures.  (Owl had a go too, but couldn’t wait for Tiddler to finish, so he went and found something else to do.)

design drill one 1

They used some of the picture cards, to create a flag and a flower, before designing their own picture of a train for Tiddler.  They worked really well together on this, and it was clear to see that this toy has a lot of potential for a wide range of ages, as it can be used in different ways.

design drill two 2

Despite our initial false start, we are really happy with this set, and I’m sure it will be used by the children for several years to come.

We were given the set for free by Junior Scholars.  All opinions are our own.



Magic Science Kit – Review

On Tuesday afternoon our friends from 3 Kids and a Gluestick came to our house to test the Science kits we had been given at the Junior Scholars event on Saturday.

magic science kit 1

The kit we chose was Magic Science, because the children love pretending to do Magic shows, and any practical Science activities are always popular, so it was the perfect combination.

magic science kit 2

The full price of the kit is £12.99, and it is currently on sale on the Junior Scholars website for £11.99.  The kit includes ten activities, so I think that is very good value for money.

magic science kit 3

The kit contains a detailed and informative leaflet, with advice for supervising adults, safety rules and information, a history of wizards and clear instructions for completing each of the activities.  The history of wizards feels a bit random among the practical information, but it is quite good fun!

magic science kit 4

Once the safety goggles had been thoroughly tested and modelled by several of the children, we got started on making our shimmering purple magic wand!

First we dropped a blue colour tablet into a test tube of water, then we added a red colour tablet to make the water turn purple.

magic science kit 5

Next, we put in a teaspoon of polyacrylamide, and at that point we had to wait for an hour for the crystals to soak up all the purple water.

magic science kit 6

In the meantime, we started on another activity called Fizzing Frenzy.  First we mixed citric acid and bicarbonate of soda in a test tube, and then we poured water in.  As you can see from the video, the children were suitably impressed!

Later, when the purple crystals were ready we played with them for a bit and then used them to fill the wand tube.

magic science kit 7

We have had many Science kits over the years, and I would recommend this one as it is particularly good value for money.  It has plenty of activities, a large number of items included and very clear instructions.  There is also an explanation of the Science behind each activity.  Thank you, Junior Scholars, it’s a great success!

We were given the kit for free by Junior Scholars.  All opinions are our own.

Junior Scholars Bloggers Event

Last Saturday we were invited to attend a bloggers event at the Junior Scholars shop in Watford.  We had a very enjoyable morning meeting the owners and staff of the shop and some other lovely bloggers, and our friends from 3 Kids and a Gluestick were there too.

JS event 1

The children enjoyed playing with and testing lots of toys – and the crisps, biscuits and juice were popular too!

JS event 2

We were offered some products to take home and we chose a Magic Science kit and Design and Drill set (reviews to follow.)

JS event 3

We then had a tour around the shop which is a home educators’ paradise…

JS event 4

…so we just had to buy a “few” extra things while we were there 🙂

js event 5

Next we had a tour of the Sound Cube in the basement, which offers recording studio parties for children, teenagers and adults.

js event 6

After that there was a little more time to play, mainly with the Zoobs which are brilliant, and then it was time to leave.  Thank you to all at Junior Scholars – we had a great time and I’m sure we’ll be back soon!

New Heinemann Maths Books – Review

In common with many home educators, my approach has become less structured over the years.  The children benefit so much from time to play, read, write, create and get wet and muddy outdoors, and I don’t want to interfere with that too much.  I haven’t quite gone down the autonomous route, though I think that’s more about me than the children.  I like a bit of structure, a bit of visible progress, but I’m well aware that the real learning happens mainly elsewhere.  So I try to strike a balance, and the children have plenty of freedom, but we do tend to do a bit of formal Maths and English (among other subjects) several days a week.

There are many ways to learn and practise Maths, and using workbooks is only one of them.  It’s probably not a good idea to get too hung up on them, but they have their place, and there are some really good ones among the droves of mediocre versions.  A lot of the most commonly available workbooks are too busy and cluttered looking, with very little content and generally a waste of money, so I was really pleased to be offered the chance to review these ones from the excellent New Heinemann Maths series instead.  They were sent to us by Junior Scholars – more about them to follow as we have since been to a lovely bloggers event at their shop in Watford.  But for now, back to the Maths books…

nhm maths books

Owl was sent the assessment book for (the end of) Year 5, which is the school year he would have just started, and he has completed the first few pages easily.  I rarely seek to compare their work with school levels, as I don’t think it matters in the long run, and it is much better for children to learn at their own pace.  However it is obviously nice to discover by chance that he seems to be well ahead!

nhm assessment bk 5

Monkey received the Year 3 assessment book.  Although he is not as confident as Owl, with a little encouragement he completed a couple of pages – he needed hardly any help, although he thought he did!  So I’m pleased with what he can do, and I just need to find some ways to help him believe in his ability.

nhm assessment bk 3

Rabbit has been given five year 1 activity books, and she chose to start working on one about Shape, Measure and Data Handling.  She completed the first section about 3D shapes easily and confidently.

nhm shapes

We had fun assembling a collection of 3D shapes from around the house too!

3D shapes

I am really pleased with the New Heinemann Maths series because they are simple, clear and easy to use, while covering a lot of detail.  Highly recommended 🙂

We were sent the workbooks by Junior Scholars free for the purpose of this review.