If you want to get a better understanding of the connection between play and learning, spend about 15 minutes watching a kid play with KEVA Stunt Derby.
But first, let me explain how it works.
There’s a Stunt Car. It’s made of wood, of course, as is the entire set. It has two big wheels on the back (like a drag racer). On the front, there’s a hook. And there’s the Launcher. It’s a little more than twice as long as the Stunt Car. There’s an elastic on the front, and a wheel-like handle on the back. You take your Stunt Car, put the rear wheels so they straddle the Launcher, connect the hook onto the elastic, hold on to the Launcher handle, s-t-r-e-t-c-h the elastic, aim, and release.
As to what you release the Stunt Car into, here, my lovelies, is the very stuff of what some might call “boyish joy” (as illustrated), but I believe will firmly anchor itself to the heart and mind of any child, regardless of gender and age: 50 wooden KEVA™ Planks. Yes, the same KEVA™ Planks that endeared themselves so deeply into our constructive psyches when we first were exposed to the Major Fun award-winning KEVA™ Contraptions. These simple planks are just thick enough to stand on any of their edges, wide enough to be easily knocked over, tall enough to fall spectacularly.
There’s a Course Mat, marked with invitingly cryptic lines, intriguing labels, and of generous size upon which to build your stunts. There’s paint, decals, and a stunt building guide, and the eternal question: what’s the best way to make the most Planks fall, or not?
Build the planks too solidly, and they barely move. Build them too high, and they fall noisily down even when you barely nudge the Course Mat. Make the run too challenging and it becomes impossible. Too easy, and it becomes boring. So very much to learn: about engineering stable and unstable structures, about how forcefully to launch the Stunt Car, about controlling the direction of the launch, and, most of all, about yourself. So much more to learn as you try to finesse the design of each stunt. And you build and destroy and build again and learn to build better and learn to build even more stuntly stunts, so much physics, so much experimentation, so much creativity – all because it’s so darn much fun.
Yes, there’s paint and stickers, and yes, you can paint the car and use the stickers to indicate points and things, and yes, you can stick the wrong sticker and use the wrong color, and no, it doesn’t matter at all, because the toy itself is so major fun. And the sturdy box it comes so carefully packed in? Throw out the packing and everything fits perfectly, probably for as long as you’ll own the set.