The Examiner Play Kit teaches kids critical thinking skills

With the start of this school year, I have children in grades 10 to 1. And while grade 1 is a bit more serious than Kindergarten, I wanted to encourage a sense of fun exploration for Joey. Along with his math and reading books, I ordered a new Lovevery play kit for him. Lovevery has several play kits for kids ages 4+ to learn and explore. I chose the Examiner, which focuses on critical thinking, phonological awareness, and numbers—all things Joey is working on learning in the first years of school.

A 4-year-old boy unboxing the Examiner Play Kit from Lovevery.

I received this play kit for the purposes of this review; all opinions expressed remain my own. This post contains affiliate links; as a Lovevery ambassador, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Joey has loved the Examiner play kit just as much as he’s loved his first play kits. Two parts of this play kit have really stood out for him: the plan ahead week board and the modeling sand with unit block builders.

What’s Included in the Examiner Play Kit?

I’m not sure who was more excited about the play kit when it arrived: me or Joey. We couldn’t wait to unbox it together and check out all the cool activities and toys. This play kit includes:

  • plan ahead week board—a super cool calendar with days that flip over when finished and magnets that you can add to show the week’s activities.
  • rhyming rings—introduce word sounds by having your child name the picture on the ring and then match them with rhyming pictures
  • modeling sand and wipeable mat—super cool kinetic sand that sticks easily together, with a wipeable mat to keep it clean and neat
  • unit block builders and activity cards—use the kinetic sand to teach math concepts by making sand building blocks
  • show, tell and think empathy game—prompts to have your child act out various stories and situations
  • time and compare stopwatch—a kid-friendly, easy-to-use stopwatch to start learning about time
  • The Appropriate Game book—a story about two siblings learning about appropriate words and actions
  • play guide for months 52-53—more activity ideas for all of the above toys to help you encourage your child’s learning and exploration

Joey starts to open his new Lovevery play kit.

Joey’s favourite activities from this play kit have been the week board, the kinetic sand, and the stopwatch.

Teaching Number Units with Modeling Sand

Sand is one of Joey’s favourite things. He loves digging, modeling, pushing, shoving, scooping, patting. The first thing he wanted to play with when we opened the Examiner play kit was the kinetic sand and its tools. Now, if you’re like me, you’re thinking, “Sand in the house? No way!” Usually I make him keep the sand outside, as any sensory bin we’ve tried in the house has ended in a complete disaster of a mess. Not this sand.

4-year-old boy plays with kinetic sand on a wipe clean mat.

The organic canvas mat is large enough for Joey to spread out his sand toys on. It has a round edge that helps keep the sand in the centre of the mat. The play kit includes toys for shaping the sand, including little boxes to mold bricks into units of 1, 5, or 25. And the sand itself? Okay, even I want to play with this sand. It reminds me of brown sugar—its sticky enough to squish and mold into shapes and squares, without sticking to your hands.

4-year-old playing with his kinetic sand to make a sand block robot.

The play kit includes a wooden block board and ideas for using the blocks to build various pictures. For example, Joey used the blocks to create the robot above. Other ideas include making castles, whales, and other pictures with the sand blocks. You can encourage your kids to count the required blocks needed for each picture. The sand blocks are easy to count and start to introduce basic counting and multiplication to kids.

Plan Ahead Week Board

As we’ve adjusted to new schedules this fall following a move and a new school year, the plan ahead week board has been extremely helpful. My older girls can all glance at our wall calendar to see what’s going on in a week, but Joey isn’t yet reading. Both he and Pearl (who just turned 8) have really enjoyed using the plan ahead week board to see what’s coming up in their week.

7-year-old planning her weekly activities using the Lovevery Plan Ahead Week Board.

The plan ahead week board is a sturdy board with seven plastic tabs on it, one for each day, which can be flipped over (closed) when the day is done. The board can be either hung on the wall or stood on the two plastic stands included.

The daily tabs are magnetic and a tin full of little magnets with pictures of various activities are included. For example, we’ve put swimming, skating, music lessons, schoolwork, jiu jitsu lessons, and more on the plan ahead week board. There are several blank magnets and several that are simply smiley faces in various colours. We chose a green smiley face to represent Daddy and placed that magnet on the days when the kids go to their dad’s place.

The plan ahead week board helps kids visualize their daily and weekly activities, with magnets to place on the calendar for what they do each day.

I’d actually tried paper versions of a calendar for Joey and Pearl before we got the plan ahead week board. The problem with printing a paper schedule was that it was hard to change when their activities changed from week to week. And a few times, Joey got frustrated with a particular activity and simply ripped up his calendar in an attempt to “cancel” that activity.

The plan ahead week board has allowed us to adjust the schedule each week and discuss what’s happening next. Joey still sometimes tries to take an activity off to “cancel” it, but the board does help him to understand the week better. Knowing what activities are coming up (even if he doesn’t like them) has helped him with transitions to those activities. Most of us, as adults, like to know what to expect in our days and weeks, and so do our kids.

The Lovevery plan ahead week board helps kids to visualize their schedule and learn about the days of the week.

Another way the kids have had fun using the plan ahead week board is to plan their ideal week. There are magnets for beach days, movies nights, pizza parties, road trips, travel, playdates, and more, so they love to put their favourite activities onto each day. If you do have a free week with your children (say spring or summer break), this could be a really fun way to get their ideas for how they’d like to spend that week—or maybe even just a day with you.

There’s More in the Play Kit!

That’s just three of the items in this fantastic play kit, and they are more than worth the play kit itself! But your child gets even more in the Examiner play kit! I love the fact that Joey (and his older sisters) thoroughly enjoy playing with the toys in their play kit on their own. If the need more ideas for play, or I want to guide them a little bit towards learning about numbers or letters, then we can work through the activity ideas in the booklet provided. Each play kit is packed with endless fun and learning for kids.

I also appreciate the fact that Lovevery’s playthings are thoughtfully crafted to be 100% child safe using sustainable materials like 100% FSC-certified sustainably harvested wood, organic cotton fabrics, and other child-safe materials. These toys really do last for multiple children (and probably even multiple generations!) and aren’t going to break or fall apart or wear out when well-used.

While I have ordered play kits for Joey one at a time, the play kits are part of a subscription. Simply sign up on the Lovevery website and you’ll receive a NEW play kit every two months as your child grows. (Pssst—drop some hints to the grandparents that a subscription or play kit would be a great gift idea!)

Lovevery Play Kits are timeless toys

What are, hands-down, the best toys I’ve ever gotten for my son? His Lovevery play kits. Before and after our move this summer, I’ve been sorting through all the toys, deciding which ones should stay around and which are ready to be passed on to a new child. I’ll admit that I was considering offering his first play kit to another family. Until he found the box and began playing.

Within minutes, the toys were scattered across his room as he and his sister began using the counting blocks to build a castle for the little finger puppet animals. They built the puzzle and then rearranged the blocks into a new shape. They took the turtle game downstairs to fill it with water for the turtles to swim in, and began mixing colours in the liquid color lab. I realized that, while this is a preschool play kit, it’s also timeless toys. My 5-year-old and 8-year-old were still just as engaged with it as they had been when we opened the box two years ago.

Check out the other play kits we’ve tested:

Save $30 on the Play Kits.

Which toy in the Examiner play kit would your child enjoy the most?

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