When it comes to toys Master C and Little Miss C do love something that challenges the old grey matter. Master C’s teacher has described him as a child who likes to understand how things work and he’s always asking “why” questions to find out exactly why things do the things they do.
LMC is in credibly good at following detailed instructions to build things or make them work, and then retracing her steps sometimes to identify where she might have gone wrong in an original build so that she can rectify a problem herself. Just this holiday she has been teaching herself to code I’m Scratch and then debugging her own code. I’m pretty impressed with her.
These analytical, engineering brains are ones that enjoy being challenged and that’s exactly what I was hoping would happen when I presented them both with Geomag to help me review. I was sent both the Geomag Panels and the Geomag Mechanics, and with both having a recommendation did age of 5+ I decided to get Master C two help me with the Geomag Panels and LMC with Geomag Mechanics.
Let’s start with describing what Geomag is actually all about. Much as the name suggests Geomag combines geometric shapes with magnets and magnetic forces to create the Geomag Panels range. The set consists of metal ball bearings, rods with magnets at each ends and plastic panels (squares, triangles and pentagons) that can be used to give shapes formed from the rods and ball bearings more rigidity, and also a bright splash of colour. The rods are not perfect cylinders. Instead they have some flat edges which means that the plastic panels can sit inside the shapes and are held in place by these edges. The 192 pieces in the Geomag Panels set means that children have plenty to use in whatever they decide to build with Geomag.
Master C was thrilled to open the box and see so many things to build with. He’s had toys before where plastic shapes have magnets in the edges to hold them together, but nothing where the shapes are formed initially from the rods and ball bearings. He found connecting the rods and balls together nice and simple, but struggled a bit with putting the plastic pieces in place. He just didn’t quite have the manual dexterity to get them in place himself. He’s five years old and a dab hand a Lego and playing with model trains, so I was a bit surprised that he needed help, but I also think that the recommended age of 5+ is right in terms of starting to play with the set, but a child of LMC’s age (very nearly 8) seems much more appropriate to get the most out of it.
We tried following the instructions to build one of the structures they featured, but to be honest we both found it a tad tricky and eventually opted for an easier one instead! I did later go back on my own and have a second attempt which was successful, but it does take a fair bit of patience and skill so that you don’t end up with some of the magnets pulling other pieces out of shape during the build process.
As soon as LMC started with the Geomag Mechanics I could see how much easier it was for her to understand the need to be sympathetic during the building process so that things weren’t pulled out off shape by the magnets. She remembered using something similar in the “construction area” at her infant school so was familiar with the rods and balls concept straight away. She set on with great gusto to build one of the machines in the instruction booklet and just needed a little bit of help interpreting one of the diagrams during the building process.
The Mechanics set also has a “compass rod” in it, so that it repels the other magnets – hence making the models work. LMC didn’t realise this at first, so again there was a spot of trial and error to get it to work initially.
With the finished design we then spent quite a while talking about what it did and how it worked, and the magnetic principles behind the model. It fitted really well with a section they had done at school about forces recently and she seemed quite thrilled to be able to put some of the theory from school into practice. Geomag really is excellent for supporting that STEM learning that I’m so keen to make a key part of children’s education, both at home and at school.
Geomags were a big hit in this household and I can definitely see them as something that will be played with again and again over the years. I can see Master C learning a huge amount about magnets, forces and shapes through playing with them, and it’s already been proven that the mechanics set really supports some of what LMC has been learning in science at school.
The Geomag Panels set contains 192 pieces and has a standard retail price of £90.00. The Geomag Mechanics set contains 86 pieces and has a standard retail price of £35.00. Geomags are available at Smyths and The Entertainer toy shops in person, or you can also buy them online.
Disclaimer: We were sent Geomag Panels and Geomag Mechanics for the purposes of this review. All opinions remain our own. This post contains affiliate links.