Monday, 10 September 2018

Little Tikes Stem Jr Review: Builder Bot and Tornado Tower

Little Tikes have long been a popular brand in our house (and garden) so I was keen to get my hands on their new STEM Jr range when I heard about it. The products take the principles from science, technology, engineering and maths to make educational play for pre-schoolers fun. We were sent the Builder Bot and Tornado Tower (both aimed at 3 years and up) to test out with my daughters, but how did they get on?

The Stem JR toys in their packaging

From the moment I opened the delivery and my daughters saw the fun and colourful packaging they were excited. Unfortunately for them I made them tidy up their room before they got to have a play. 5 days later and we finally took them out of the packaging!

The Little Tikes STEM Jr Tornado Tower


The contents of the Tornado Tower box: a jug, the tower, 3 gears and experiment cards

The Tornado Tower appealed to my eldest the most when it came out of the box, but this doesn’t surprise me as it can get a little bit messy with the use of oils and food colouring. The box contains the Tornado Tower, a measuring cup, 3 floating gear shapes, 2 experiment cards with 4 experiments on and an instructions leaflet. It requires 4 AA batteries to make the tornado and lights work (these aren't required for all experiments). The experiment cards tell you what to do using images and short descriptions and also includes a bit of the science background.

We started with the most straight forward experiment (Twisty Tornado) which just uses water and the shapes included. Both girls helped to fill the cylinder with water and then put the shapes in before screwing the lid back on. There is a switch at the side and a leaver to push and a tornado soon appears in the middle of the water whirling the shapes around.

I really want to try the Lava experiment because it looks pretty, but I need to buy mineral oil first. Instead we tried Foaming Fountain which only uses products I have in my kitchen cupboards: vegetable oil, water, salt and food colouring. The salt is meant to create bubbles, but we only got to see a minute of this before my eldest decided she wanted to try using the pump and then turned the tornado on again. The effect was pretty, if not what the experiment was meant to show, but surely the whole point of the set is to encourage experimentation and it definitely did that.

A toddler putting the gear pieces in the Tornado

The Tornado tower turned on the leaver to full power

A toddler putting salt into the Tornado Tower

The Little Tikes STEM Jr Builder Bot


Lots of Little Tikes robot parts

The Builder Bot is a great introduction to Engineering. There are 12 robot pieces which can be assembled in a variety of ways to make different types of robots. It requires 3 AAA batteries and a long thin screwdriver which I needed to buy because none of mine would fit, but this isn’t the first toy I’ve have that problem with so a new screwdriver is probably a good investment. The 2 double sided experiment cards provide instructions to build 3 different types of robot as well as challenging the child to work out which pieces will have what affect.

The pieces all click together and as long as you have the light-up body which contains the batteries and a visible circuit board as part of the robot it will move when turned on. It is fairly easy to assemble the pieces, but younger children may need a little help.

Robot parts, and experiment card and a part built robot

Two children watching a robot they have built

A robot with an elaborate hat as 2 arm pieces have been connected on it's head

At 6 my eldest enjoyed both toys and set about exploring as much as she could with all the different ways she could use them. My youngest is just under the target age and loved watching the results of the experiments and playing with them when assembled, but she wasn’t as interested in experimenting with different effects. With older children you can use the toys as an introduction and then set more challenges or encourage some research to find out more about the science behind the toys.

Of the two sets we were sent to review the Builder Bot is our favourite. I like it most because it is mess free so they can play with it unsupervised, but it also has a lot more flexibility for long term play. There are a huge number of ways you can put them together and my daughter kept trying ways I hadn’t thought of, why shouldn’t an arm be worn as a hat?

The Tornado Tower is RRP £29.99 and Builder Bot RRP £24.99. The Stem Jr Range from Little Tikes also includes a Wonder Lab with over 50 accessories and suggestions of 20 experiments. The full Stem Jr Little Tikes range is available from Little Tikes and other good toy retailers. You can see more Little Tikes toys on their Instagram Page.

***Disclosure: We were sent the products from the STEM Jr by Little Tikes range for the purpose of honest review. All thoughts are our own***

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2 comments

  1. I’ve not heard of these toys before. They look great though, definitely something my boys would love, particularly Harry x

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  2. Ooh these look good fun, and sure Poppy would like these. Might have to bear these in mind for Christmas! x

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