Review Crew: Activity Bags – Math and Science

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Activity Bags are just what they sound like – fun activities that are in a large ziploc, with all the necessary supplies included!  They are perfect for keeping young children entertained while you work with older siblings and some of the activities are for older children, occupying them while you get some things done yourself-dinner anyone???

There are multiple types of activity bags that are geared for different age groups:

Preschool Activities in a Bag
Math Games in a Bag
Science Experiments in a Bag
Reading Games in a Bag
Travel Activities in a Binder

What did we receive?
We received Volumes I, II, and III of Science Experiments in a Bag and the Math Games in a Bag e-books.  Each e-book costs $15 and the 3 science volumes can be purchased as a bundle for $39.

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The math games book contains activities such as matching, number recognition, addition and subtraction fact practice, counting, and multiplication and division games.  
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Science Volume I has activities relating to biology, nature, and general science.  This book contains activities such as heating and cooling an aluminum can to watch it shrink, catching a spider web on dark paper for observation, making homemade paper, and growing fungus.

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Science Volume II contains experiments about chemistry, the human body, and general science.  This book contained activities such as cleaning a copper penny to make it look new, making giant homemade bubbles, exploring the sense of taste, and learning how a siphon works.
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Science Volume III contains more chemistry experiments and activities.  Experiments in this volume included learning how fires are put out, measuring the amount of iron contained in various fruit juices, making marbeled wrapping paper, and turning salt water into fresh water.

The Science Activity Bags also contain an experiment log for each experiment to record experiment findings.  The log page also has questions to answer about each experiment.  Following the log page is another page of experiment answers which contains an explanation of each experiment.  

The science activities are geared for children in grades K-8, while the math bags are for elementary-aged children.

Activity Bags are also designed to work well in an activity bag swap-where each individual in the swap makes a set amount of one specific type of bag and then all participants trade.  This leaves each person with one of each type of bag.  The Activity Bags website also offers a Coordinator Handbook for free.  This handbook includes all the details needed for planning and organizing a bag swap.

How did we use this product?
Once I downloaded the e-books, I got to work going through the many ideas in each file.  I made a list of the ones that were most appropriate for the age levels of my children and for their interests.  I then printed out the instruction pages for those particular games.  Then came the time consuming part!  I had to print out the game pages, cut things apart, gather supplies, and assemble each bag.  I put all the supplies for each game in a large ziploc bag and taped the label to the front.  Then my bags were ready to try out.

I gathered the kids and we had several game nights using our math games.  Even Daddy joined in the fun!

Our favorite math games were playing Bingo for number recognition, Great and Small for identifying which number was larger or smaller, and Shape Bingo for learning shapes.  Curly enjoyed the Place Value game in which she identified the place value of each number.

For the science bags, we used those on the weekends when Dad was home to help out.  I find science experiments very difficult to do with my little crew as I have to plan ahead, collect supplies, find the supplies, and then perform the experiments.  Since all my supplies were in the ziploc along with instructions, it was easy for Dad to take over and when my kids are older they can even do many of these experiments independently.

The kids are growing carrots from carrot tops, we watched an aluminum can collapse after being heated and then cooled, and saw how yeast and sugar can inflate a balloon.  

What didn’t we like?
A few of the activity instructions contained small typos.  One activity contained conflicting instructions.  The first part of the instructions mentioned using colored cardstock while the latter half instructed you to use white.

Another activity did not list the correct number of copies needed for each page of the game sheets.  These were small typos but I had to reread a few of the sections to make sure that I had enough copies of each page and that the pages were on the correct type of paper for the activity.

In another game, the page number of the game activity sheet was incorrect.  I had to go back and print the correct page after I noticed the error.

As with all science programs, there are some activities that we are unable to complete due to my children’s food allergies.  Some activities called for supplies such as peanuts, eggs, or milk.  We had to skip any of the activities that called for foods we cannot eat or touch.  However, only a few of the experiments called for these ingredients.

What did we like?
The activities are very simple to prepare and put together.  You just need to get the printer warmed up for some of them though!  While they are time consuming up front, that time is well spent when you are simply able to pull out a bag and get started with an activity.

I was often able to put Curly in charge of an activity and she was able to get out the bags and do the activities and games with Bee and Tiger.  She enjoyed being the teacher and being able to complete an activity with them without my help.  Many of the activities can be independent or led by an older sibling since all the materials are readily available in the bag.  I loved how this freed my time to work on other things while the kids were occupied. 

My favorite aspect was the wide variety of ideas and target age ranges.  For example, the math games have matching number games, addition games, and even multiplication games.  While I used the games on the younger end of the spectrum, I will have more bags as the kids advance in their skills.  So, I can use these products for quite some time given the age range of my kids.  The activities will grow with them!

What did we think overall?
While the activities were very time consuming to set up with all the printing, cutting, and assembling, the ability to have ready-made bags to pull out at any time was well worth all the effort.  Storing the bags is also very simple as each fits in a gallon-sized ziploc that can be placed in a drawer or a file box.

My kids enjoyed the math and science activities.  They were able to pull out the bags and work through some of the games without my help after we had played them once or twice.  The bags were an excellent quiet time activity as well as a great distraction when I was busy with something else.  The kids often asked to do some more bags and kept begging for new ones.  They were a big hit at our house!

So, I loved the ease of use (once the setup was done), the easy storage, the variety of activities, and the way they can be independent activities.  I think we’re going to need to purchase the reading games and maybe even the travel games too!

I think if we continue to use the bags, I would like to try to organize a swap to help save time in preparing activity bags and to allow us to receive a wide variety of activity bags.  I have been part of a bag swap in the past with the preschool bags and it went very well.  I made 20 of one type of bag and then everyone traded.  When we were done, I had 20 different activity bags all ready to go for my kids!

The company is also in the final stages of editing some Craft Activity bag e-books which will be available soon.  I’ll be watching for those……..

Free Sample:  If you want to learn more about Activity Bags, fill out the survey on their website and you can receive a free sample!

See what other Crew members thought of their Activity Bags on the Crew blog!

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Disclaimer:  I received a free copy of these e-books at no cost to me in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions are mine.

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