By MindWare

Reviewed for Fourth Grade, 2010

Contraptions is a big resounding YES! The building possibilities are endless with this kit that contains 200 identical, perfectly-sanded wood planks, two balls, and an idea book to set you on track. Help your builder construct tracks of tunnels, funnels, ramps, and chutes, then set the ball rolling and watch your creation come to life. The open-ended, no rules play promotes experimentation, creativity, and problem solving, key mental skills for aspiring young engineers and architects. And as kids build through trial and error, they gain an early understanding of physics and engineering concepts like balance and structural stability. True, the lack of connectors means structures are fragile and vulnerable to collapse, but this aspect only teaches kids to build with care, honing fine motor skills and dexterity in the process. (MindWare, $49.95)