Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

Clifford Food Science

Clifford Food Science

Spring 2014 Toys
Ages: 3 & Up
Price: $19.99

As a parent, I want to engage my kids in science experiments and scientific thinking. When my kids were ages 6 and under, I wasn't sure what kind of activities were age appropriate, and how to best explain the science to my young ones. Which is a roundabout way of saying why the Clifford the Big Red Dog Food Science kit is so appealing.

Opening the kit gave my kids an instant 'ooh' reaction as they took out the test tubes, bottles, sticks and measurement tools. Opening the instruction manual gave me an instant calming, "I can do this" reaction, as I looked through the easy to follow instructions and easy to discuss explanations of each science activity.

The activities range in time required from a few minutes ("Layering Test Tube" activity) to a couple of hours ("Rainbow Ice"), but most can be completed in about 20-30 minutes. The kit doesn't have everything you'll need, but it does include anything you may have difficulty finding. For example, we had to provide our own marshmallows, as well as all the ingredients for the "Ice Cream in a Bag". However… the kit does contain the long, wooden sticks needed to make rock candy. I was pretty impressed that after going through the "Exploding Marshmallow" activity with his adult cousin, my six-year old could tell me that "the microwave heats up the air in the marshmallow, which makes it grow."

This kit is perfect for pre-K and Kindergarten age learners. As a scientist, I would like to see more science processes, such as making observations or charting data, as I would expect them to be for kids 7 and up. However: the activities were fun and engaging for both my 6 year old and my 9 year old, even if the science was not enough for my older son. For younger ages, this kit delivers an important message: science is cool, fun and provides and explanation of how things work. It gives hands-on learning, with visible, tangible opportunities to think explore and wonder.

Barbara Chamberlin   ©2014 Parents' Choice
Barbara Chamberlin researches and develops educational software and media at New Mexico State University's Learning Games Lab. She and her husband have two boys.

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