Reviewed by David Savage
We try to limit screen time in our house, keeping the kids off the Xbox, television and their phones, we prefer the kids to enjoy being kids by playing. Playing could be with their toys, reading a book, drawing and crafts or playing of board games as a family. Just because it is break from school doesn’t mean children’s education should be forgotten. We also like them to try something fun, but educational so that they are still learning and expanding their minds, but without being in a formal classroom setting. Learning something new without knowing you are learning, and enjoying what you are doing is the best way to learn (at least, I think so anyway).
We were sent some dig kits from National Geographic, a well-known and respected leader in science, nature, conservation and the environment. The kits are suitable for children aged 8 years +. We received the Dino Fossil Dig Kit, Real Bug Dig Kit and the Shark Tooth Dig Kit.
The dig kits all coming nicely packed in an appealing cardboard box, giving the would-be excavator an exciting glimpse of what they will find inside. The are all STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths) products promoting the science aspect. All the dig kits also contain very information learning guides (for me, this is the best part as they are packed with really good information).
Each Dig Kit contains:
- Dig Brick
- 3 Specimens
- 2 Excavation Tools
- Magnifying Glass
- Learning Guide
The first kit we sat down to do (with 10 and 7 year olds) was the Dino Fossil Dig Kit. Everyone loves dinosaurs and with a kit that has genuine dinosaur fossil specimens inside, it was always going to be first choice.
The dino dig brick is a terracotta-coloured plaster-type brick about the size of the palm of an adult hand. It has an image of T-Rex on the front, it looks really impressive. On first impression, it looks quite small. Once you start using it you can see that it is about the right size for the three specimens that are buried within it (any bigger and I think the kids would get bored digging).
It comes with a plastic pick/scraper for digging into the brick and a brush to sweep away the debris. Once you have found your fossil, it also has a small magnifying glass so that you can examine your specimen in detail.
The plaster brick feels quite solid but is soft enough to dig into using the pick. We did have a bit of problem occasionally when digging, but a drop of water left to soak in solved the issue.
Digging into the brick requires patience as you don’t want to go in to hard so that you damage the specimen. The kids loved slowly cutting away pieces of the brick to slowly reveal their fossils, the howls of excitement when the first fossil was earthed was deafening. After they found all three – Mosasaur Tooth, Dino Poop and Dino Bone, we soaked them in water to dissolve any brick residue left and to get them nice and clean. They now sit proudly on a bedroom shelf.
Once the specimens were found and cleaned, the fun is not over. With each kit a learning guide is supplied that is packed with information. The kids loved reading about how fossils are formed and what they can tell us, and liked reading about “The Bone Wars”.
Next we picked up the Shark Tooth Dig Kit. The kit contains the same pieces as the dino kit, except that the dig brick is blue and features a shark head coming out of the waves. As with the Dino kit, digging to find the genuine fossil specimens hidden within is done in the same way. As the kids were now aware of what to do, they set off on their shark tooth excavation. It wasn’t too long before they uncovered the tooth of a Crow Shark, an Otodus Shark and a Sand Tiger.
As with the previous kit, it also came with a learning guide that the kids loved reading. They love all the interesting facts. The guide is only 10 pages long, but it is packed with information on shark sizes (from 6 inches to a massive 40ft) and shark myths and facts.
The final kit we tried was the Real Bug Dig Kit. This is a sand-coloured brick with an image of a black scorpion on the front. As with the other kits, this also contains 3 genuine bug specimens – Scorpion, Fortune Beetle and Spiny Spider. These are in a resin bubble rather than being fossilised.
This learning guide is also packed with interesting facts about bugs and insects. Did you know that one of every four animal species on Earth is a beetle?
These digs take about 20-30 minutes each to complete and the kids absolutely loved them. I think any longer they would get bored and give up if they weren’t finding anything too quickly. They have been designed to be the perfect size and the length of excavation time I think is just right.
Between dig time and reading the learning guides, the kits probably takes an hour each. The specimens and guides are something that can always be gone back to.
The learning guides are an excellent resource packed with valuable information and accompany the excavated specimens perfectly. They are quite short but very informative and a good length to provide children with some excellent knowledge.
These kits are an excellent fun and educational. A perfect activity when staying at home, whilst improving your knowledge base visually and academically.
Excellent kits that entertain, educate and will leave kids with a sense of achievement when they have finished.
RRP: £9.99 each