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K'Nex Atomic Coaster and 50 Model Building Kit Review by Kate Kessler

K’Nex
http://www.knex.com

K’Nex isn’t kidding when they say, “Imagine ~ Build ~ Play.” That is exactly what they offer and exactly what you get in the box. There is so much creativity and imagination at the fingertips of your children that you won’t believe what they produce! Not only that, but these products are stamped with Made in the USA and that is always exceptionally valuable to me.

The Atomic Coaster is one of K’Nex’s “Thrill Rides” and for good reason. It is quite thrilling to see it all come together! The kit comes with 1,255 pieces, 37 feet of track, two coaster cars, and some very detailed directions. I gave the kit to my 13 year old and said, "Have fun!" He spent hours for several days putting it all together. I didn't have to offer any help at all as the directions were so thorough. The end result was four feet tall and after adding two “AA” batteries, the coaster was up and going. He ran into a snag at first and after adjusting the track, he had it working well and solved his own problem. It was quite an accomplishment and it was obvious he had enjoyed every minute of it! There is also another design available for download, but we have not taken advantage of this yet.

This kit is geared to ages 9 and up, but I would probably hazard that a 9 year old would need some parental guidance. Priced at $70.99, this may be out of some budgets, but would be a very good combined-with-grandparents birthday present. I definitely consider K’Nex an educational toy and this would be something we could consider for science and math topics. They have other kits on their website that are specifically designed for these areas as well that are worth looking into.

The 50 Model Building Kit has endless opportunities for learning experiences too. Also made in the USA, this bagged 700 piece kit comes in a box shaped much like a treasure chest. The box is made from sturdy strong cardboard and has room for the finished creations. What to make: from vehicles (with the included wheels) to animals, to hot-air balloons, to creative ideas used for our own animals in our home (the kids made a bird swing and hung it in the cage), this kit provided hours of intricate work for my children. The instructions are not detailed, but do picture creations that can be made with this kit. They are not complex so that a child can look at the photo and figure out how the picture was put together. I liked this aspect to the kit because it made my kids think and evaluate what they wanted to achieve and then get there on their own.

This kit is geared for ages 7 and up and I would agree with this assessment. At retail, this kit is priced at $34.99, but I do see it on sale fairly frequently. This would be a great starter set for those unsure whether or not K’Nex is something their children would really enjoy.

There is an “extra” on the K'Nex website I feel I should mention to those that find they really love this product. Club K'Nex is worth looking into. The motto for the Club is, "Get more, See more, Do more" and I liked that! It is open to all ages and is a place where you can, "...find great building ideas. Interact with K’NEX designers, enter cool contests and more!"

K’Nex has a myriad of choices on their website and kits for every kind of child. Some of my personal favorites are the ones I noted above that are educational in nature and are thorough learning tools. These are definitely something to consider for the science/math minded homeschooler. However, for good clean fun, K’Nex cannot be beat. They offer a creative outlet that does not involve a computer screen, a creative challenge to the minds of my children, and I very much appreciate those things. I highly recommend you look into K’Nex and see what they might have for you!

Product review by Kate Kessler, Product Reviews Director, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, May, 2013

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