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ITSPHUN Geometric Construction Kit Review by Melanie Reynolds and April ElstromITSPHUN, LLC
Do you like hands-on learning? Do your children like building toys? Does your child love . . . or hate . . . math? Do you like to invest in well-made learning toys that your family can use for years to come, throughout many grades? Are your students studying geometry, angles, physics, or simpler math? Would you like your children to learn when they think they’re actually playing?
If you answered “Yes!” to even one of these questions, you should definitely check out ITSPHUN and their building kits. We received the ITSPHUN Geometric Construction Set, which is designed for ages 5 all the way to adults. It includes 104 building pieces and 54 ideas of unusual shapes to build. This set is priced at $29.99.
The building pieces come in 6 multicolored shapes (red, blue, yellow, purple, lime green, green). There are 104 flat polygons in the set; 36 triangles, 36 squares, 12 pentagons, and 20 hexagons. These are made of Priplak polypropylene (food-grade and environmentally-friendly), which is certified to be safe in the U.S. and E.U. Each shape has interlocking tabs on all sides which enable the builder to connect pieces together so that the 2-dimensional shapes become 3-dimensional objects or solids. Also included is a deck of sturdy cards which provides 54 building ideas as well as a short introduction on building categories. All of this is housed in a cardboard box, along with a sturdy zipper-closing bag to store pieces in.
The 54 shapes that can be built with these cards range from the very simple (a cube or a hexagonal prism) to the moderately simple; and on to the complex. Each card’s project is numbered and named, and includes a list of how many of each shape will be used, as well as a colorful picture of the finished product. The cards also include the class of the solid which will be built:
- Convex polyhedra (which curve outward)
- Non-convex polyhedra
- Platonic solids (where all faces of the object have the same size and shape)
- Archimedean solids (where the objects’ faces are not the same, but their corners are)
- Johnson solids (where corners don’t have to look the same)
- Uniform prisms and antiprisms
However, students and parents who have never heard of most (or any!) of these classes will still be able to build and appreciate these projects, which include geometric shapes, animals, vehicles, and other well-known objects. And apart from these, builders can simply use their own imaginations and see what they can create on their own.
Our experiences with ITSPHUN were quite wonderful. Our family is composed of a 14-year-old son who doesn’t enjoy math but adores building toys; a husband who is an IT genius; and a mom who’s more into words and art than construction or geometry. Still, we all adored the fun and the challenge of building with ITSPHUN shapes! We started with the simple, and built cubes (#2) and tetrahedrons (#1, a 3D triangle) and progressed in difficulty from there. (By the way, both of those are also defined as Platonic solids; I haven’t even mentioned the vocabulary boosts players will receive via ITSPHUN building!) We also built a turtle (#52), a hexagonal antiprism (#8), a truncated octahedron (#11), an icosidodecahedron (#11), and our crowning achievement, a rhombicosidodecahedron (#16). That last one took 20 triangles, 30 squares, and 12 pentagons and about 20 minutes, and just a little bit of taking apart and putting back together where we hadn’t gotten things just right. We have more cards to tackle together, which we’re really looking forward to. (Next on our list: the elongated pentagonal gyrobirotunda! Or maybe the ball of squares.)
It was really interesting to see our own natural abilities and giftings shine as we built with ITSPHUN; and maybe our less-talented abilities improve in the process. Because you only see a picture of your finished project on each card, and the list of what you’ll need shape-wise to build it, you have to be able to mentally picture how to put the shapes together. My son (who builds daily with LEGO) and my husband did this the most easily. I, on the other hand, tend to see more in 2D than in 3D, so I was a bit apprehensive. However, after the first few builds I got over my apprehension and was able not only to build successfully but enjoy the process!
The ITSPHUN Geometric Construction Kit is sturdy, well-imagined, and well-constructed. The tabs slide easily over one another (whether they’re being put together or taken apart) and I believe that this kit can be used for years without breaking or tearing apart. The experiences of building together as a family or alone, individually, are also quite enjoyable. It’s also gently, but not stressfully, challenging. And whether a student is gifted in math or not, he’ll be able to thoroughly enjoy the process. I highly recommend ITSPHUN, for hours of creative family building and fun, and for polishing up those math abilities, as well!
-Product review by Melanie Reynolds, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, October, 2016
And Another Review:
ITSPHUN Geometric Construction Set
I was fascinated with the ITSPHUN Geometric Construction Set when I first saw the website. I hoped my children would enjoy this unique, creative building set. They have always enjoyed building with plastic linking blocks, but I hoped these plastic geometric shapes wouldn't take up as much room, or be as messy.
When the ITSPHUN set arrived, my children were immediately interested. They all wanted to try their hand at linking the flexible polypropylene shapes together. We quickly discovered that the 104-piece set isn't quite large enough for multiple children to build complex things at the same time.
We received the 104-piece ITSPHUN set. The box stated that it is for ages 5+ and the set includes 36 small triangles, 36 medium squares, 12 medium-large pentagons, and 20 large hexagons. Each 2-4 inch shape has a rounded tab with a slot sticking out of each side. Those slotted tabs link together to create an endless array of shapes and patterns. The shapes are cut from food-safe polypropylene, and none of the pieces are small enough to be a choking hazard, though I am sure my dog could chew them up in a heartbeat.
There are 28 two-sided cards included in the box that include pictures and very minimal instructions for building 54 models. The included model ideas begin with basic geometric 3-D models like a pyramid or cube, and build up to complex geometric models I'd never heard of before. Square antiprisms and truncated dodecahedrons, for example, can be combined together to create owls, flowers in vases, and rockets.
Although all of my children over the age of five enjoyed building with the ITSPHUN shapes, only those over the age of ten could recreate many of the models. My seven year old can make the most basic designs, and create his own shapes, but couldn't recreate the complex models on his own. Most of the models do not include instructions. The card has a picture and a list of how many different shapes you'll need to build it (i.e. 12 triangles, 12 squares, etc.). The rest you have to surmise from studying the full-color photograph.
Some of the model cards list that a pattern is two different models put together, so you can look back at those cards to build the individual pieces and then connect them together. How to connect them isn't always explained well. I had to step in several times to help my twelve year-old son figure out what adaptations he needed to make to connect the pieces.
Even though the model cards are sometimes hard to follow, I still love this geometric construction set. It challenges my children's minds, and develops their creativity. The set is very portable for a vacation, and stores nicely at home. Mostly, I love that my children enjoy using it - because a house full of educational tools is useless if your kids don't enjoy actually using them. ITSPHUN passes the kid test in our home!
-Product review by April Elstrom, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, October, 2016