My daughter Emma spotted ARCKIT sets in an educational catalog a few months back and immediately added them to her wishlist, so when the opportunity arrived to review this product she was thrilled! ARCKIT is designed for kids aged 12 and up, so at not-quite-10 Emma was pretty young to be building with it but her enthusiasm helped make up the difference. ARCKIT is a STEAM tool that teaches kids about engineering while they demonstrate their artistic side.
ARCKIT was designed by professional architects, and it is based off of an award-winning design that was originally designed for professional use. Unlike most model building sets, ARCKIT pieces connect without glue, so you can use them over again. Like many other model-building kits, the ARCKIT requires excellent fine motor skills and an attention to detail.
The ARCKIT is primarily designed so that you build whatever you like, but the kit we were sent (ARCKIT A60) did include instructions to build one home. We found the instructions somewhat frustrating, because they didn’t clearly show which pieces you needed to use where. This meant that we had a few false starts where we used pieces on the lower level of the house that we later realized we needed for the top floor. The instructions also skip steps and assume a pretty solid familiarity with the kit. The illustrations make pieces look flat when then they aren’t. For example, the six-panel roof in the photo above is shown in the instructions as a single piece.
Mike, Emma, and I all worked together, and eventually we did make the house that came with the instructions. It was pretty fiddly, and the exercise definitely reinforced the importance of supporting beams and weight bearing walls in architecture!
I think that the ARCKIT sets are great educational tools for kids aged 12 and older – or younger kids who have a lot of patience, good fine motor skills, and strong interest in architecture. All three of my oldest kids – nine-year-old Emma, seven-year-old Johnny, and six-year-old Lily – find this set interesting. They play around with it quite frequently, and I think they will be able to build some sophisticated structures as they grow older. If we had a 3D printer (wouldn’t that be awesome?), we could use SketchUp 3D modeling software to design and print off original creations that integrate into the system, making the sky the limit in terms of creative building with these sets!
Do you have a budding architect in your home?