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Being a both a slightly odd family, and a home educating one, this seemed like a good starting point to show my daughter a little about anatomy as well as provide endless childish amusement for me. I use the word "show" deliberately, as we do not sit down to learn or anything so restrictive. We are autonomous and child-led, meaning that I take the cues from my daughter and we explore subjects that are led by her at her stage of development. Being nearly four years old, she has a keen eye for everything disgusting (poo, farts etc) as well as a real interest in nature and our bodies. She has already asked me countless questions about our bodies including how is poo made (yes really), where do babies grow, what is snot, where is a bone etc, so this was the perfect thing to buy for her.
So named in honour of the great dark film "Harold and Maude"
THE BENEFITS OF HUMAN SKULL OWNERSHIP:
This "build your own" skull kit from National Geographic is the ideal object for worrying the neighbours, holding a kid's sunhat or even for educating your child on the mysteries of the human bonce. To be totally honest, he was bought for all of the reasons listed. He looks great as an ornament in my kitchen, with some nice kid-sized hello kitty sunglasses above his defunct septum, and he is a conversation piece. Unfortunately Harold is not life sized but what he lacks in stature, he makes up for in fun.
All of the pieces of skull are securely contained in a clear plastic tray which stops the fiddly little bones being lost. In the box you will also find tweezers, a stand for your skull and a very pink brain.
This skull kit is designed for kids aged 8 upwards, but my daughter has had great fun with it despite being half of this recommended age. This kit teaches kids about anatomy in a logical kit form. There are 39 pieces all together which come together to make a model which measures around 4". This means that it can be a bit fiddly for small kids, but we built it together and there were no tantrums.
Each bone piece/part is made from a durable plastic, which lacks enough shading and therefore some realism. But kids do not mind this so much and my daughter was happy enough to put it all together. We used small jewellers pliers for the tricky bits and some tweezers for the rest. Many of the parts could be joined together with fingers. The little wiggly lines found across the human skull, which feature names such as "Sutura Coronalis" are present, breaking up the plain whiteness of the plastic pieces.
There is a decent instruction manual that comes with the kit including pictures. I would have liked the booklet to have a little more info on the different bones and their structure, but that information is easy enough to find elsewhere.
Unfortunately the brain included in the kit was squashed by an over-enthusiastic rush to the kettle one morning, so we made another from piped playdoh. A veritable masterpiece it was too.
The skull model sits on top of an accurate spinal column which is useful for teaching kids about the vertebrae and how we move. My daughter was not particularly interested in this, but older kids might be.
Although you do get a decent guide with this skull kit, re-animating Harold takes some patience and perseverance. The pieces fit together well but you will need the booklet. If you lose this then you will have to wing it and will probably end up with something akin to a Picasso painting. It is fiddly but the end result is worth the periodic faff.
The pieces slot together. If you have ever done a 3D jigsaw puzzle then this is similar but more fiddly due to the smaller scale. I think that the size hinders it. A larger/ full sized skull would be much easier to handle and build.
The parts are numbered and once in place they are quite stable. Included in the kit is a pair of tweezers which are rubbish. I recommend little pliers and some metal tweezers.
The jaw moves too which is great for teaching kids about joints and muscles.
The dimensions and ratios on this skull are accurate and show the child the way bones fit together. My only real criticism here would be the teeth which are VERY plastic and look like they belong to Katie Price after a trip to the dentist. I would like to see more realism in the shading and teeth but for £12.99 you cannot really complain.
Apart from "Braingate" where Harold temporarily lost his ability to think, due to my foot and a desperate need for caffeine, the skull has stayed intact despite prodding from my daughter and interference from me. So far he has held a roll-up between his teeth, modelled kids sunnies, worn a small sun hat and has even retained dignity under a fetching toilet roll wig. If you want longevity then I would recommend using glue during assembly but then you would not have the fun of taking him to bits and trying to stick his mandible up his schnozzle. Such things are important when you are 4...
Harold the human skull kit is a great starter kit. The kit is fiddly and the end result is small, but he is perfect as an introduction to anatomy for younger kids. Our next kit will be a full sized human skull. I think for £12.99 the price is reasonable and the quality is ok too. I would like to see more detail for realism but there is little to criticise. For maximum fun and learning, Harold was combined with some drawing, sculpting (making the replacement playdoh brain) and some Youtube videos. This skull has provided entertainment and also prompted more questions from my daughter so I think that it has been a good buy.
Available on Amazon for £12.99