If You Build It: GoldieBlox and Girls

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This summer Annalyn started saying the worst thing. I’m not referring to her sass-mouth that just about puts me over the edge in approximately 3.7 seconds. No, I’m talking about this phrase:

“I’m not good at this.”

She’s said this about dozens of different tasks, and it’s driving me up the wall. I’m sure she’s heard Mark or me say that – whether in complaint or humility – and is parroting us. Which makes me even MORE upset! I’ve tried to talk to her about it, and I’ve tried to encourage her in the moment (reminding her that yes, she CAN do whatever it is she’s trying to excuse her way out of).

I haven’t heard her use those words much recently, so hopefully my efforts are working. But I know this is just one stop in a long journey of teaching her that she is capable and clever and GOOD at a lot of things.

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You know, she isn’t brilliant in every subject or gifted in every area. There are already things that Mark or I are good at that we can see she might not be. But that’s the beauty of discovering who this little girl is. Because there are LOTS of things she IS good at! And while singing on key is [so far] not her strength, inventing and building is something that captures her imagination and comes as naturally to her as singing along with the radio does for me.

I’ll never forget the time she cut up a bunch of scribbled on pieces of paper (coloring in the lines is also not her favorite activity), taped them together into a very convincing rocket ship. SHE MADE A ROCKET SHIP. Out of scraps. That blows my mind!

And over the weekend, I walked into the living room to find that she’d co-opted her baby sister’s toy box (a plastic crate from Walmart, because that’s how we roll) for a doll bed. But it was okay, she told me, because she’d scrounged up another basket for her sister’s toys. And now the stuffed elephant (THAT BELONGS TO HER SISTER, but whatever) has a home.

That kid’s mind is always working. And even though many of her inventions are unnecessary or impractical, I love that she thinks that way. I love that she wants to create, to build. And so GoldieBlox, construction toys made for girls, is the perfect toy for us!

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I heard about GoldieBlox for the first time last year when the company made news with a super clever commercial. Very quickly, it went on to win awards – including Toy of the Year. It didn’t have to win awards for me, though. I was sold after watching the ad and reading a little bit about the company’s goal to get girls building. I bought Annalyn a GoldieBlox kit for Christmas last year – and yes, she loved it as much as I thought she would.

So, OF COURSE, when The Motherhood contacted me about learning more about GoldieBlox, reviewing their toys and (Hello!) giving away some toys to my readers, I jumped at the chance.

[Side note: I wouldn't say that every webinar, conference call or Twitter party I participate in is FUN. Educational or interesting, yes, but fun? Not really. Getting the chance to talk with the founders of GoldieBlox, though, was AWESOME.]

I felt like this:

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{Can you tell that acting is another one of her interests? Heh.}

Anyway.

I loved learning about the beginnings of the company AND its goals for the future. These moms saw something they didn’t like, saw a NEED – and did something about it. I love it!

Also, while I knew GoldieBlox was more than just a pink version of boys’ toys, what I didn’t realize was the amount of research that’s gone into finding out just how girls learn best. It turns out that the construction kits are centered around a character and a story for a reason; girls typically have strong verbal skills, so a story + construction set bolsters confidence in spatial skills while giving young inventors the tools they need to build and create amazing things.

Cool, right?

Goldie is a young engineer who likes to build things with her friends. Each set comes with a book that tells a story with instructions for building something related to the story. (So it’s problem solving plus engineering!) Plus it has extra blueprints in the back of the book for additional projects. (PLUS the GoldieBlox blog has more ideas, and you can buy a bag of parts for even more building fun!)

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The company has three award-winning products on the market right now:

GoldieBlox and the Spinning Machine (3-6 years old)
GoldieBlox and the Parade Float (3-6 years old)
GoldieBlox and the Dunk Tank (5-8 years old)

At the beginning of every GoldieBlox story, some basic engineering vocabulary is introduced with a basic “Bill of Materials.” The pieces you get with GoldieBlox are based on the Seven Simple Machines (wheel and axis, lever, pulley, etc.) As I learned from GoldieBlox, these are the basic building blocks of every physical thing.

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When the founders of GoldieBlox were asked about specific skills they hope to teach girls with their toys, they said:

“One of the most critical skills we are teaching around engineering is simply confidence. Research has shown us that girls are less likely to pursue an activity if they don’t know they will be amazing at it. So by giving girls confidence and exposure to words, when they see and hear these words later in life, they won’t be as intimidated, because they will already understand the concepts!

Another important message we’re sending girls through GoldieBlox is to not give up! Even Goldie, in the stories, will have something not turn out the way she wanted it to and will have to try again at making something.”

I COULD NOT LOVE THIS ANYMORE.

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As Annalyn played with her Parade Float kit, she said, “I’m like a real builder, Mama!”

Now THAT is something I like to hear.

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GoldieBlox GIVEAWAY

Do you know a little girl who likes to build? I’d love to give you a Parade Float and a Dunk Tank kit! Simply visit the GoldieBlox site and tell me in a comment what part of it you’re most excited about.

The winner must live in the U.S. and will be selected randomly after the giveaway closes on Friday, September 5.

This post is part of a compensated campaign with GoldieBlox and The Motherhood. All opinions (and over-acted reactions caught on camera) are my own. And Annalyn’s own. They’re ours. And they’re real.

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