Playing is one of the most valuable experiences kids can have. With the goal of designing some educational lessons, I received the Playfoam class pack from Educational Insights. I considered how well the Playfoam would work for different age groups.

Educational Insights Playfoam Classroom Set Review

My first idea was to create landforms. To model different landforms, I created them on a paper plate and I walked my kids through each step. I explained that the green was the land and the blue was the water. Then I showed that you can use the foam to create a reservoir. Carefully, I created a border of green and I filled the inside with blue. As my older daughter Samantha began to understand what the landform looked like, I explained that a reservoir is a body of water, similar to a lake or a pond. She was able to construct her knowledge of what a reservoir is, using not only language but also a hands-on experience.

Playfoam Class Pack Review - Theresa's Reviews - www.theresasreviews.com

Another landform we focused on was an island. Samantha was familiar with what islands look like from television. She knew some of the types of trees and animals you might find on an island, but she didn’t yet know the difference between an island and a peninsula. First I demonstrated what a peninsula looks like with the foam. Since our state has a peninsula, knowing what a peninsula is would be valuable. Next, I took some of the land away and added water to show what an island would be.

Playfoam Class Pack Review - Theresa's Reviews - www.theresasreviews.com

Determining the difference between an island and a peninsula was a little hard for Samantha because peninsula was a new word. To help reteach the vocabulary, I had Samantha create an island with the foam. It was at this point that I started to notice how hard it was to separate the colors after you build with the foam. Some of the water that she built had green in it. I explained that there might be many little islands. She seemed satisfied with this explanation.

Playfoam Class Pack Review - Theresa's Reviews - www.theresasreviews.com

To continue making meaning from the experience, I asked Samantha to build a reservoir. I reviewed what a reservoir is. She already seemed familiar with the meaning. Quickly she got to work creating a large body of water enclosed by land on all sides. Working intently on an education activity indoors was a huge success. Playfoam Class Pack Review - Theresa's Reviews - www.theresasreviews.com

Both of my kids were enjoying the experience. Even though my younger daughter Georgiana was a little young for the material, she did well with it as long as she was supervised. I handed her some blue and green foam. She went to work building a river. The creation looked really nice, which made her happy. Playfoam Class Pack Review - Theresa's Reviews - www.theresasreviews.com

While building landforms, I realized more and more how creating items with specific colors could be tricky in a classroom setting. The river had some green in it. Mixing the colors didn’t bother my kids much, but they are too young to care a lot about what the end result is with a foam-building project. Older kids who are working hard on a project might be upset that a landform doesn’t look right. Also, separating the colors when it’s time to put the foam away could be a hassle for teachers. Playfoam Class Pack Review - Theresa's Reviews - www.theresasreviews.com

I decided to try a new activity geared more towards early learners. I asked Samantha to carve the first letter of her first name into her foam. Creating letters with the foam worked well. Samantha said that it was hard work, but she ended up creating a very nice looking letter S. The activity used tactile learning to help teach phonics. At age five, Samantha knows her letters well, so this is a neat way for her to teach the letters to her younger sister.

Playfoam Class Pack Review - Theresa's Reviews - www.theresasreviews.com

With an interest in using the foam to create three dimensional projects, I started building with it. I discovered that it could be rolled into a ball. When Samantha threw the ball, it didn’t fall apart. The material stuck together really well. Together, we built a snowman with the foam.
Playfoam Class Pack Review - Theresa's Reviews - www.theresasreviews.com

The texture of the material was really neat. When I decided to switch colors to let the kids try something new, cleaning the old colors off of the paper plate was simple. There was no sticky residue. All the foam left was a little bit of color. As a parent, I much preferred playing with the foam to playing with clay or dough, which both leave residue that’s hard to clean, gets under kids’ nails, and sticks to anything.Playfoam Class Pack Review - Theresa's Reviews - www.theresasreviews.comMy younger daughter Georgiana was super excited to be a part of activities with her older sister. On a hot summer’s day, playing with colorful foam was an awesome way to keep my kids busy and happy without sacrificing their ability to grow with educational opportunities. Instead of showing them a cartoon or reading another book, I gave them a neat opportunity to build and create something. Both of my kids really enjoyed getting to choose the color of their next creation.
Playfoam Class Pack Review - Theresa's Reviews - www.theresasreviews.com

With technology being such a push for kids, more and more kids are only learning to create using software. Using the Playfoam was a neat reminder that kids need to actually experience what it is to build something in three dimensions using their hands. Building objects can even be a way to reinforce kids’ understanding of how to build with technology later in life. Creating a project in three dimensions using foam as a material taught my girls spatial reasoning skills. My daughters learned that rolling the foam too thin could make it fall apart, but that they could make it stick together to build big objects if they made thick pieces that were packed together tightly.

Playfoam Class Pack Review - Theresa's Reviews - www.theresasreviews.com

Another way to use the foam in an educational way for early learners is to roll it. My kids called this creating caterpillars. Rolling small bits of foam into long pieces helps kids gain fine motor skills. The activity worked the same muscles my kids would need to build in order to learn to hold a pencil. Making caterpillars was fun for my kids too. Both of my daughters were impressed with the foam and they plan on playing with it throughout the summer.
Playfoam Class Pack Review - Theresa's Reviews - www.theresasreviews.com

The foam came in a lot more colors than just the blue, green, purple and pink that we played with in our pictures. I also received yellow, orange, a lighter shade of green, and a beige-orange color. In total, there were eight colors. The box held two blocks of each color, making a total of 16 blocks. There was plenty of foam for an entire classroom to use.
Playfoam Class Pack Review - Theresa's Reviews - www.theresasreviews.com

In over a year as a product reviewer, I’ve played with a lot of toys from Educational Insights. One thing I love about the company is that each item seems incredibly fun to kids while also having an educational value. Whether you’re looking into the playfoam for your own kids or for your classroom, I would recommend it because the quality was good. Playing with the foam led our family to have fun experiences that would transfer well to the classroom too.

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Disclosure

I received a free item to help inform my writing.

About The Author

Owner And Editor
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Theresa has been writing since 2010 in magazines and online. Her lifestyle and parenting expertise has been featured in publications, including ShopSmart and Scholastic. She earned an M.Ed in Elementary Education from Vanderbilt as well as a BA in History from Flagler College, and she is a certified teacher.

15 Responses

  1. Tammileetips

    I have not seen this foam before!! What a great sensory play this would be for preschoolers and elementary aged kids. I love that you incorporated learning about reservoirs into the kids play, it seems like kids always learn better while they are playing and doing something they like.

    Reply
  2. Melody

    I remember playing with these when I was younger. They were so fun and not messy at all. It’s great that you were able to get a geography lesson out of them.

    Reply
  3. rochkirstin

    Creating landforms with hands-on experience is a great way to hone kids’ creativity and improve their artistic skills. I also like that they are taught on how to determine between the island and peninsula because even adults often get confused on the difference. This is an enjoyable project to keep them busy.

    Reply
  4. Jeanine

    Oh the memories. I remember playing with this type of foam when I was a kid! Can you believe I’ve never gotten it for my kiddos? This looks great, and like I need to grab some for my little ones. They’d have such fun making little animals or characters. I completely forgot about this stuff until this post, thanks for the memories!

    Reply
  5. Stephanie of The TipToe Fairy

    This is such a fascinating way to teach geography. My son recently was learning landforms, and this would have been amazingly helpful. I would have never thought of using foam play, and my kids just love that stuff.

    Reply
  6. Kerri

    I am a teacher and I think that this foam is awesome. I had never heard of it before. It looks like it would be great for my second graders to use during our science and social studies units. You could make land and water with the blue and green. We also study germs and at the end of the unit the kids create their own germs. Ohh, this has so many possibilities.

    Reply
  7. Heather Wone

    This looks like so much fun, my children would absolutely love it! We are already a month into summer vacation and the kids are getting bored with the same old stuff every day, I will defiantly have to look into getting them some of this, thank you for sharing!

    Reply
  8. Jaime Nicole

    Oh my goodness, that’s too much cuteness for one posting! The playfoam looks like so much fun and I love that it can be made into 3-D sculpture too (great snowman). We need to get some of this for our summertime fun!

    Reply
  9. Jess Benoit

    This is so neat! I want to say that my kids had a sample of this playfoam before. Being a homeschooling mom, I am always looking for new ideas and this is a neat one for teaching landforms….thanks for sharing. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Reply
  10. Carrie Chance

    My daughter and my daycare kiddos absolutely love playfoam. And, admittedly, I have quite a bit of fun with it too. It keeps them bus for quite a while

    Reply
  11. Jaclyn Anne

    Using the playfoam to create landforms was a great idea. I can see how much your girls enjoyed it – and they really did a fantastic job!

    Reply

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