Kathy reviews the Stacking Owls from Discovery Toys and finds that in addition to being fun, the Stacking Owls are educational and even have STEM benefits.
Stacking Owls by Discovery Toys has many learning benefits. In fact, this product is listed primarily as a balancing toy you can use to “perform hundreds of balancing stunts!” However, even though there are at least a hundred different balancing stunts, there are many other ways in which to use these owls as an educational tool or even just for fun. The product includes a pamphlet of ideas and games as well as ideas for tracing the owls, which encourages the arts! Here are a few concepts my granddaughter and I discovered as we set out to play with these cute “Stacking Owls” to learn about the physics of balancing!
The challenge of stacking the owls encourages the discovery of balance.
My 4-year-old granddaughter discovered that if you put each side on together the stacking was easier because it was almost impossible to start with one owl and attach an owl to one side without it tumbling over. She was already picking up on the concepts of gravity and balancing!
These Stacking Owls can also be used as a game.
Start with 3 owls and take turns to see how high and wide you can make your “Owl Structure Tower.” If the owl you put on makes the structure fall, then the other player wins. This was an amazing game and it kept my 4-year-old and her Mimi’s attention for about an hour. We had fun while learning about balancing. I continually asked questions about why something worked or not and why owls were placed at certain points or places so in a sense we turned it into a STEM activity.
Let’s do some math, too!
One of the easiest math activities with the owls is stacking and lining up the owls in sequential order. But you can also make mathematical equations with balancing. We used the owl with the number 3 and balanced the owls numbered 1 and 2 on top to show 1 + 2 = 3. Then we wrote the equations to remember the concepts in another format. This activity was limited because the owls are only numbered from 1-12, but you can make and equation with a 12 at the bottom and balance the 11 and 1 on top to show 11+1=12 or 12-1=11. The sky is the limit!
The owls can be used to learn or reinforce place value.
For example: If you put a 1 and a 6 together we have 1 ten and 6 ones which makes the number 16. Choose 2 owls and make the largest and smallest two-digit number or pull 3 or 4 owls and make the largest and smallest numbers you can!
Encouraging a positive mindset
Use the balancing ideas from the included pamphlet and challenge yourself and your kids to see if they can make the suggested balancing designs, which teaches some rules of physics through discovery. There are also balancing rods included, which we found would work better for older children. Having many ways to use these Stacking Owls encourages children to take a challenge and keep working. Kids will learn that even though you may not succeed the first time, you can always try again, which is what having a positive mindset is all about! There is also the benefit of character education and positive mindset integrated into this fabulous product!
After a short time of play through discovery, you might want ask children some questions to encourage thinking, predictions, and observations. I am a retired teacher so I see the educational value in everything. Here are some questions you might consider asking as you play: Why did the tower fall over? How can we improve our stacking technique in order to build and balance a taller and wider structure? Why did you choose to put the owls in that spot? What might happen if we place the owl here or there? Why do you think that will happen?
In my opinion, this is an activity that you definitely want to use with your toddler, preschooler, kindergartener, first-grader and even beyond. It has tremendous educational value that can be discovered through play, not to mention to have a little family fun! I could go on and on forever with all the educational benefits that these Stacking Owls have to offer, but that would be a dissertation. One thing is certain: this product is well worth the money!!