Summertime is always good because we get extra time with my step-son Ben. Usually we only get to see him on the weekends, so it’s a treat to have him here and of course, this is insanely exciting for Katie and Thomas. I like to try and find things that interest him though rather than just dragging him along to things for the younger ones.
This summer, I signed him up to receive a Lucky Gecko Discovery Box. These caught my attention largely because I thought they would suit Ben.
He has always enjoyed doing things together – particularly building things, completing challenges, and learning about new things. But he has never really enjoyed ‘traditional’ learning.
Trying to get him to read books has always been a challenge. When we’ve gone to castles or museums, although he’s enjoyed exploring he’s never really been interested in reading the signs (or having them read to him). Whilst some kids could visit a castle and imagine what life would’ve been like… Ben is more straightforward. He would much rather look at the things around him and just focus on what it is. For example, Ben loves airports and points out EVERYTHING. The different planes, new gadgets the people at security might have, the different trucks… he wouldn’t talk about the places people might be going or how they would be feeling. But he’d be able to ID at least 10 different planes.
Why would I think an ‘educational’ box would suit him?
Lucky Gecko Discovery Boxes are designed to get children connecting the dots between what they learn at school and the world around them. Knowledge doesn’t (and shouldn’t) break down into simple, separate chunks. Geography is History, History is Literature, Music is Maths and Sport is Science. Everything connects, and finding those connections is both inspiring and empowering.
In my mind, this is what Ben hasn’t ever really done. There is absolutely no doubt that he has the capacity to learn. He also enjoys learning. He just has it in his head that he’s good at learning about some things and not others. If it’s in a youTube video he’ll watch it. If there’s a model to paint and build – he’ll be there. But he doesn’t equate that with anything to do with school.
My hope was that the Lucky Gecko box would help Ben realise that learning was fun. And it is also something he’s good at.
How it works…
Perfect for children aged 9 to 12, all of our boxes are delivered monthly, and cost £36 per month. Simply choose which one you think best suits your child’s needs and we’ll do the rest.
Lucky Gecko is a simple subscription service which delivers a monthly box ready to inspire kids to think differently about their education. Designed for them to be in control, the box contains activities tailored for the individual child and the way they learn.
To that end, there’s three different options to choose from: Wisdom, Imagination, and Curiosity.
As a child who certainly hasn’t really flourished in the ‘traditional classroom’ – I thought the curiosity box would best suit Ben. Designed to encourage practical exploration, experimentation, invention and problem solving – I was really interested to see what he would make of it.
What did you think when you first saw the box?
I originally thought it was just going to be a bigger version of Katie’s craft boxes. So I was surprised when I opened it.
When I opened it, the stuff in it looked like it was really good and that it was going to be fun.
What was in the box?
I got a comic, a make your own comic, a superhero pencil, a robot with two motors, a booklet on how to make a robot with some challenges and a game.
What did you think of these things?
I thought it was all really good stuff for people my age because it was stuff that was interesting and relevant. It all looked fun to make and I wanted to come up with ideas on how to build the robot.
I liked the robot best at first because it looked really cool.
What have you enjoyed the most?
So far, I’ve enjoyed the game (Cortex Challenge) the most because it really pushed my memory and brain. It was also really fun to play – especially against someone who was really competitive. I didn’t think I’d be good at it but I was quite good!
You won lots!
I didn’t win a whole game.
No, but you won loads of rounds!! And I’m an adult! You did really well!
Who do you think would enjoy something like this?
Someone in Primary 7 or going into High School. Or even in High School. Some of the stuff was definitely better for older people – Katie wouldn’t be able to do most of it. (She’s 4!)
As a teacher, I would like to say that classroom teaching has evolved over the years. It’s not just ‘chalk and talk’ but is really varied. My ‘everyday’ often involves watching boys set off rockets in the back playground, taking part in ‘living history’, engaging with varied resources, and working together.
But I am aware of how limited the classroom can be. I see some of my classes for a single hour. The curriculum is so packed that often, there’s not actually time to do projects that I’d love to engage with.
For the last couple of years, I’ve taught Computer Coding. Some of the kids are arriving with a huge amount of knowledge – and some with none. Whilst I can start them off with some basic skills, the real magic for them happens far beyond my classroom. They need to go off and spend time on things. A decent computer program doesn’t occur in the space of an hour.
I’ve written before about how I feel the classroom needs to remain as broad as possible. I think particularly as kids get older, we lose sight of the importance of outdoor learning. As the pressure of exams and state tests looms, I think teachers are more inclined to ditch creative projects and revert back to ‘book learning.’ Whilst this may suit some kids, I’m not convinced it’s right for everyone.
These boxes help take kids beyond all of that. I viewed the contents as a catalyst more than anything else. A simple spark to really get the imagination going. It was cool that projects could evolve from the different items and that kids could easily direct that themselves.
I found it really interesting that Ben’s favourite part of the box was Cortex Challenge. I am secretly delighted that he did actually beat me (genuinely) several times. This doesn’t often happen and that game was pretty hard! I am competitive and don’t believe in letting kids win just for the sake of it.
But it’s also been brilliant to watch him build a robot on his own, ask for a cup at Starbucks himself to create another one (this is a big deal), and disappear to bed early to READ his comic. It was also interesting that he has attempted the various challenges in the accompanying booklet as well as asking to enter some of the competitions.
All of this tells me that he has confidence in his ability with this. It also tells me that it’s sparked his interest to the extent that he’s engaging with the box rather than his iPad! All of which is joy in my heart.
If seeing him learning wasn’t enough, it was also nice to receive an email after Ben had receiving the box explaining the educational benefit of each part. It also had an added challenge for parents as well so they could join in on the fun.
I would say the boxes are perfect for 9-12 year olds – although I can imagine that many of my S1 pupils (aged 13) would also enjoy the challenges. As a 30 (something) year old adult, I enjoyed playing the game and have been happy to engage in robot chat. I’ve tried to be ‘hands off’ to see what Ben would make of it but can certainly see the appeal of coming up with new ideas!
Win your own 3 month subscription!
I’m delighted to have a 3 month subscription to Lucky Gecko to giveaway to one of my readers. Simply enter here or click the logo below and follow the instructions!
Prize is a 3 month subscription to Lucky Gecko, there is no monetary exchange available. The prize will be distributed by Lucky Gecko direct to the winner, Edinburgh with kids cannot be held responsible for lost prizes. All winner decisions are final, the winner has 48 hours to claim their prize or a new winner will be drawn. Contest closes at 12.00am on Wednesday 9th August. UK Entrants Only.