Like most parents we have been busy trying to juggle our home life, working life and our children's home education over the past few months. My youngest child's school has been fantastic at setting work and this has been easily accessible since the start of lockdown, mixed full of literacy, numeracy and practical homework tasks. However, my son has been flying through the work set and so I have tried my best to introduce some other elements with educational tools we have at home.
With the weather being so nice, both Riley and I have been very keen to work outside and so when the opportunity arose to review some of the fabulous Learning Resources products, we quite literally jumped at the chance and couldn't wait to find out more about nature, our environment and space. We were sent a wonderful selection of items which were sure to keep Riley motivated whilst we explored some fun and creative ways to home school.
The first item we used was the Discovery Acorns. These are recommended for children aged 3-7 years old and are the perfect size for little hands. Riley enjoyed searching around the garden for little objects to put inside the acorns that we could then take a closer look at. The design makes them look just like real acorns with their natural colours and it was very easy for Riley to remove and replace the lids on them as and when he wanted to.
We played a few little games with these items which were great fun. The first game was that Riley would collect a few objects and place them in the acorns without showing me. He would then describe the items that were inside and I had to guess what they were. This really helped Riley to improve his description language skills and it taught him how to speak about colours, shapes and textures. We each took it in turns to do this and admittedly we both really enjoyed it.
We also played hide and seek with the acorns and I would hide them around the garden. We have quite a large garden so there were plenty of hiding places and Riley loved trying to seek them out. Another game we played was a memory game, where I would place items in the acorns and then Riley had to try and remember which item was in which acorn and write it down. Each acorn has a animal silhouette on its base, so we would write all of the animals down in a list, with another list opposite of the contents and Riley would have to try and remember what was in each one and match it up. The Discovery Acorns are available on the Learning Resources website for only £9 which I think is excellent value for money.
The next item we tried was the GeoSafari Jr. Mighty Magnifier which is recommended for children aged 4-8 years old. This allows children to see items up close and are perfect for scientific observation of nature. As we have been doing a lot of work in the garden over the past few weeks, we have come across many creepy crawlies and Riley loved wearing his Mighty Magnifier to see creatures and other objects up close.
The Mighty Magnifier has a built in headset with comfy eyecup supports which means it can be worn. This allowed Riley to keep his hands free, allowing him the ability to still touch or move things whilst he observed. The magnifier could easily be changed between a 2 x and an 8 x magnification, so Riley really enjoyed experimenting with each. We would play a game where he would look at an object in 2x magnification and write down what he could see, before he then increased it to 8x and would write down anything different that he could notice once the object appeared larger.
I really liked how the Mighty Magnifier is light enough to carry around, so it is ideal for us to take in our backpack on one of our walks so Riley can take a closer look at other nature that we might see on our travels. This item has an RRP of £14.00 and it can be purchased on the Learning Resources website here.
Riley also really enjoyed using the GeoSafari Bug Viewer which allowed him to see all kinds of different bugs up close. Admittedly I was too scared to pick up any bugs or spiders to place in it, so I left that in the capable hands of my eldest son, who was more than happy to oblige. The bug viewer is recommended for children aged 4 to 8 years of age and the jar allows children to collect their specimens and see them through the transparent casing.
Once you have found a bug to take a closer look at, you simply place it in the jar and then secure the magnifying lid. I had initially been concerned about the bugs being able to breathe, however there are air holes and also a handy measuring grid. Riley enjoyed finding different creatures and then using the measuring grid to write down their sizes and compare them. The magnifier has a 3x magnification so it was great to be able to see them so clearly. At a cost of only £4 on the Learning Resources website, this is great value for money and is at a pocket money price too!
Riley's favourite educational item was the GeoSafari Jr. My First Microscope which allowed him to view items up to an 8x magnification. It's bright and chunky design really appealed to Riley and it was the perfect size for him to be able to use himself. It is recommended for children aged 3 to 7 years of age and the fixed platform means that children can observe both flat and 3D objects.
The dual eye pieces are extra large so it makes for very comfortable viewing and prevents the need to close one eye. Riley absolutely loved pretending to be a scientist and soon got the hang of using the microscope by himself. It has a cool feature of a bright LED light which helps you to enhance the viewing of small details and the button was very easy for Riley to control. With an RRP of £20 I think it is excellent value for money and it can be found on the Learning Resources website here.
Riley's older brother Ben has helped him a lot with his outdoor learning, especially when it involved bugs and spiders, so it was only fair that Ben had the opportunity to stay up late and try out the fantastic GeoSafari Vega 360 Telescope once the night sky appeared, so that we could take a closer look at some star constellations and the moon. This is recommended for children aged 8 to 12 years of age and as well as taking a look at the night sky, it can also be used to take a closer look at nature, your surroundings, birds and animals.
The telescope comes with two different eyepieces which are 20mm and 9mm in order to offer different viewing magnifications. We used it together with the included tabletop tripod and we were able to see different objects at 20x, 40x and 80x magnification. Ben loved observing the craters on the moon and was surprised to be able to see so much detail.
We had hoped to catch sight of the International Space Station and the Space X Rocket on the first launch attempt, but due to it being postponed for a few days, we were unfortunately unable to spot this. However, now that the weather is dry again, we are hoping to get back out in the garden and look for the space station once again using the telescope.
We found the telescope to be really easy to set up and really lightweight too. I have already promised Ben that once we can travel again, we will take this on holiday with us, so that we can take a closer look at different environments. The GeoSafari Vega 360 Telescope is available on the Learning Resources website for £48 and is the perfect item for budding young scientists.
Although Riley is in bed before it gets dark at the moment, he is looking forward to searching into space later in the year once the early nights return. In the meantime he has loved listening to what Ben has spotted and he has also enjoyed using the telescope to look at some of the birds that land on the top of our shed.
If you would like to find out more about Learning Resources and their fabulous range of products, then check out their website or social media pages on the following channels:
Website - https://www.learningresources.co.uk/
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/LearningResourcesLtdUK/
Twitter - @LRUK
Instagram - @learningresourcesuk
*Disclaimer - This is a collaborative post and we were gifted the items featured for the purpose of writing an honest review of the products. All thoughts and opinions are my own unless otherwise stated.