Reviewed by Louise Watts
Some children learn by listening, some learn through visual aids and some learn through making (amongst other methods). Understanding that all children are different and require different assistance when learning is half the battle. There never has and never will be a one size fits all teaching method for every child.
When it comes to science and children, many find that the more gross it is the better! John Adams toys have produced a range of items under their Gross Science label, including the “Beating Heart”. With an RRP of £13 (although I found it cheaper by searching the internet) and an age recommendation of 8+, this had all the promise of being truly gross!
As a nurse myself, often responsible for teaching students, I was very much looking forward to building my heart! My 5-year-old son wanted to help me which was great and I had my 10-year-old daughter on standby for any bits that were too tricky or complicated for him. This was going to be a team effort!
It arrived in a beautiful, colourful box which had a fantastic picture of the heart on the front. It was bright and captivating and looked gruesome. We opened the box and inside there were a handful of “parts” to build our heart with. The instructions were very easy to follow and we set about making. The bits fit together easily and the whole process was simple and stress free taking only a couple of minutes to fix everything together. Make sure you have a waterproof area to build it on as it can get a little messy (especially with a 5-year-old in charge!). We decided that we would add a little red food colouring to the water so that it actually looked like real blood and gave us that added extra grossness! In the set are 2 balloons and some rubber washers. These are made of latex and are clearly labelled as such so anyone with a latex allergy would need to avoid these. Due to the clear labelling of these products, there should be no worry of accidental exposure.
The detail of the heart is very simple and kept very basic. It is not a model you could use for teaching children anatomy and physiology of the heart as it is not complex enough for that. However, for teaching a young child the basics of how the heart pumps and how the blood comes out and goes in, it is perfect. My son and I discussed what was happening when we squeezed the heart and how the blood is moving around to keep you alive. This level was perfectly pitched for him at his young age.
In the instruction booklet, along with a guide on how to make the heart, there is a lovely educational piece which talks about what the heart is, how it works, how big it is and how it is structured. This is more in-depth than the model itself and would be way above my 5-year olds understanding, however would be ideal for a slightly older child wanting to learn in simple terms the structure of the heart. Maybe this is why it comes with a suggested age of 8 years upwards. It uses very child friendly language and explanations which is lovely.
I would thoroughly recommend this item to parents who want to do some educational teaching with their children whilst learning themselves too or for any child who remembers better through making visual objects. It is also great fun to play with afterwards and stands up beautifully in the rib cage meaning it can be placed somewhere safe and brought out as a revision tool every now and again.
The RRP as I mentioned earlier is £13. I am not sure that it is worth that if you are using it merely as a toy, but if you are using it as an educational aid, then it is worth the money.