Review: Djeco Bugs

My 5 year old loves to color. She goes through coloring books so frequently that we’ve taken to purchasing them at the Dollar Tree so we can keep up with the demand. When I was offered the opportunity to review Djeco Bugs, a scratch-off art kit carried by Timberdoodle, I knew that it would be something she might be interested in. That suspicion turned out to be absolutely correct.

About Djeco Bugs

Djeco Bugs is a scratch art set from the French company, Djeco. Kids can scratch through the inc to the surface below using the wooden tool included. There are four images in this particular kit – butterfly, caterpillar, bee, and ladybug – to work with. The kit is only $5.99, making it a nice activity for an afternoon or a nice gift for an artistically-inclined child.

Our Review

Miss 5 really enjoyed working on these. We put some newspaper underneath for easier cleanup, but it really wasn’t necessary – making it a nice no-mess activity for kids that’s different from coloring and doesn’t have the clean-up commitment of painting.

The activity set is for ages 3-6, so it’s one of those great activities for building fine motor skills. Children can make their scratchings as simple or elaborate as they would like – there are patterns underneath the blue ink. Miss 5 went through the kit in an evening and has requested that the pictures be hung on the picture wall in their playroom.

Teaching Tips

While I just let her play with and explore the Djeco Bugs Scratch Art kit, it could definitely be incorporated into both a science and an art curriculum. In fact, it’s originally bundled in Timberdoodle’s Kindergarten Curriculum Kit. Here are some ideas on how you can use the scratch art kit as a learning tool.

  • Use each image in conjunction with learning about the insects. children learn about caterpillars and butterflies, then they can complete the scratch art for that.
  • Use the pictures to talk about composition in art and patterns. Challenge your child to create a different pattern on each area of the scratch-off art.
  • Use the kit as a jumping-off point to talk about how scratch art works. First complete the art in the kit, and then create your own blank scratch art canvas. Here’s a great tutorial on making your own scratch art.
  • Use the images and the artwork created to talk about matting and framing artwork. Either hang the resulting artwork in a place where your child can see it or gift the resulting artwork to a family member or family friend.

What other ways can you think of to use the Djeco Bugs kit in your homeschool? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Review: Timberdoodle’s Farmland Math Mat Bundle

Recently, I had the opportunity to try a preschool resource I’d been wanting to try for a long time. I received a special discount for Timberdoodle’s Farmland Math Mat Bundle in exchange for an honest review. This preschool math resource is available both on its own for $43.50 or as part of their 2019 Preschool Curriculum Bundle.

What is the Farmland Math Mat Bundle?

The Farmland Math Mat Bundle is a combination of resources. It’s a tub of counters, a large play mat, and then a guided manual that takes parents and students through 36 weeks of hands-on math activities. It’s suitable for ages 2+, but I reviewed it with my 3-year-old instead of my 2-year-old.

Learn By Doing

I love resources that get the pre-k set learning while they play (let’s be real here, I love resources that get anyone learning through play). The animal counters are just the right size for little hands to grasp (plus they’re cute). There are five different animals in six different colors – for a total of 30.

The book has a script for what the instructor can say to the student – this is great. Not only because you don’t have to come up with a script when you play with the farmland mat, but also because the script leads the student through mathematical thinking – from counting to grouping to basic adding and subtracting.

Our Verdict

Mr. Three really wants to “play with my farm animals” again soon. He really enjoyed it, even though he’s been counting past 30 for some time now. It’s always good to reinforce those basic math concepts, but it’s also good for kids to get hands-on experience with the counters. While we did activities, his older sister looked on to make sure he was having a good time. I will definitely use this with the 2-year-old as well. I thought of some fun activities that older children can participate in using the counters, as well. I’ll share a few suggestions for that at the end.

Additional Activities

There are 36 weeks worth of activities in the book that is included in the Farmland Math Mat Bundle from Timberdoodle, but if you’re looking for a way to extend the activities or adapt them to older children, here are some ideas:

  • Sorting – young children love to sort. You can have them sort by color, by animal, by animal characteristics (fur vs. feathers, perhaps)
  • Graphing – older children can use graphing skills to depict what is in front of them on the mat
  • Multiplication – if there are 3 of each type of animal, how many animals are there? If there are four four legged-animals, how many legs are there all together?
  • Skip-counting – counting by 2s for pairs of legs or 4s with the four-legged animals
  • Number shapes – get some colored popsicle sticks – have students make shapes and place an animal in each corner.
  • Open-ended play – let your child take the counters and play with them – either with the mat or without it. Imaginative play is vital to healthy development.

What ideas do you have? Share your thoughts in the comments.