Recently, I’ve added a few sets of Nikitin materials to my stash of educational materials. For those who are not already familiar with Nikitin, here’s a short description:
Nikitin Materials: Build-up games
Developed by Russian educationists Boris and Lena Nikitin, Nikitin Materials were designed according to Montessori concepts. Nikitin is distributed by Logo, based in Germany, and there are a total of 10 sets in the collection (but N7 is only available for the German market). These materials are suitable for use by children as young as 2+ up to adulthood, and each set has different objectives, including the development of sense perception, concentration training, and encouraging creativity, among others. They are used in preschools and primary schools, and also during therapy sessions. In Singapore, some of these sets are used in Shichida classes for brain training purposes.
In my recent purchase, I’ve bought pattern cubes (N1), Unicubes (N2), Geocubes(N5) and Logical Lines (N8). The set I’ll be reviewing now is the Nikitin Geocubes (N5).
The Nikitin Geocubes set aims to develop three-dimensional thinking, concentration and patience. The set consists of 27 wooden cubes, joined together to make 7 different construction components, in the colours of the rainbow.
Here’s what the 7 components look like:
Also included in the box is a little notebook with the pictures of the 70 sample structures that we were supposed to form with the 7 components:
Trying out the Geocubes
C was really excited when she saw the set and couldn’t wait to try it out. We had done 3-d structures using single cubes when she was younger, so when she first saw the pictures of the sample structures, she exclaimed that she had done it before. I explained that this time, it was different, because we had to work with the 7 components, and the positions of the cubes were fixed in a certain layout.
We went through the booklet. The first few pictures simply showed the 7 components. I let C examine each one – rotating the component, and asked her to observe and describe its dimensions.
The first pictures of the structures were in colour – straightforward and simple enough. C had no problem identifying the pieces to be used, and could solve the puzzles in no time.
Then came the pictures in black and white! Without the colour guide, we first had to figure out which components were to be used, then how to place them together.
C was stuck! 3-dimensional thinking wasn’t her forte, and she got frustrated trying to isolate the correct components to use. I had to guide her step by step:
– for the first structure I simply told her which 2 components to use, and let her figure out how to piece them together
– for the subsequent structures, I guided her step by step on the isolation process: to note the dimensions of the final structure (e.g. 4 cubes high, 5cubes wide, 1cube deep) and to compare it to the dimensions of the components, then to isolate which should not be used (those more than 1 cube deep).
When she finally managed to form the structure correctly, she was elated! I must add that the pictures are deceptively simple. It actually requires a lot of concentration to solve (I admit that I’m really bad at 3-d too! At the point of writing, I’ve only managed to solve the first 10 puzzles)
This is a really simple yet effective tool to train 3-dimensional thinking, concentration and patience (and totally fulfilling its objectives)! I love the simplicity of the pieces, and the progressive complexity of the structures engages even adults. Besides the sample structures, the different components can also be used in creative play, to create different structures, limited only by the imagination.
C and I had a fun time trying the solve the puzzles together, and daddy chipped in to help too! Can’t wait for G to be older so we can do this as a family bonding activity with him too. Highly recommended 🙂