The common impression of model kits is of planes boats and other impressive modes of transport that capture the imagination of the old as much as the young. There are model kits that are aimed at primarily the young for both fun and educational purposes. For the very young these models will come in the form of snap together kits but there are also glue assembled models that are aimed at the younger age groups. The LEGO Company was started by Ole Kirk Christiansen in Billund in Denmark in 1934. Today it has grown so much that the Brand Finance announced in 2015 that the LEGO had replaced Ferrari as “the world’s most powerful brand”.
The LEGO works with building blocks that can easily assembled and later re-assembled. The company has always been aimed at children facilitating learning through play and social interaction, developing cognitive skills that have been learnt from the construction of models. The LEGO’s educational programme starts with the very young. The pre-school section is aimed at the 3-year-olds and over. The separate LEGO Education Site provides lesson plans for nursery school teachers. The education programme is divided between pre-school, elementary and middle school. Naturally as the children get older the models and the tasks become more detailed. By the time of middle-school the models now become subject based.
The EV3 classroom solutions set enables students to learn mathematics and science through the designing and building of the LEGO robots. Once assembled tests than can be conducted through their actions and responses that are subject specific. Whilst other manufacturers cannot compete with the LEGO’s commitment to its educational programme some have published guidelines to grade the age range that their models are suitable for. The manufacturer Revell-Monogram has a published kit construction skill level list.
Level 1 is aimed at 8 to 10-year-olds. The kits have a low number of parts and simply snap together. If decals are included in these Snap-tite products, they are “peel and stick” as opposed to the “waterslide type”. A good example is the Black Diamond Pirate ship which comes in 26 parts which are simply snapped together. The product has enough detail to capture the attention of the very young.
Level 2 is aimed at 10-12-year-olds and is the intermediate level. Paints, glues and waterslide decals are included in the detailed products. Level 3 is the highest difficulty and aimed at the 12-year-olds and upwards. The models are more complex and include different versions with different paints and decals that can be used.
Tamiya are not so sensitive to skill levels and generally their models are more complicated to assemble than other company’s models. They do, however, have an educational section with models aimed at the young. A good example of this would the Tamiya Rowboat which is aimed at 8-year-olds and over, and is easy to assemble with few parts.
The skills associated with assembling models are ideal for developing vital traits of young people’s characters. Although not all models are age specific, many are, and these are the kits that will hold the child’s attention for the longest periods and educate them the most.