I always say that teachers are masters at taking something that was not designed for education and making it work for something in a classroom. For that reason, I wonder if all educators look at the holidays as a special time to discover new things for their classrooms. My children complain when I ask them to pass me a box so I can take look because they know that I want to play with it before they get a chance. So it was this week with Bunchems!
A Bunchem is a small plastic puff that is covered with small hooks, kind of like a spherical velcro ball.
The little hooks mean you can attach them to other bunchems and build things simply by touching two bunchems together. The possibilities of what you can make seem endless, limited only by what you can imagine and gravity. In addition to the bunchems, the kits also contain some accessories - legs, hats, and so on - that will give your creations extra pizzazz.
My daughter's Mega Pack was open for about 15 seconds before I had my hand in the box and was imagining the molecular possibilities. I use model kits in my classroom all the time, but in some ways these are just as good or better. For modeling the particles in different samples of matter, for showing ionic crystal structures, or for letting individual students model particles, these would be faster, easier, and cheaper.
In a recent post, I showed pictures my students had drawn of a balanced chemical equation. In the picture below, I show the same reaction with Bunchems.
By using Bunchems, instead of drawing, kids could test whether or not their representation obeys the Conservation of Mass Law by weighing the reactants and products. I like the idea of using Bunchems and something else to demonstrate "like dissolves like" when I get to solution chemistry next month.
If you don't teach chemistry, you could use these for modeling any number of things. Or for filling the sand table. Or as a building toy as they were intended. The Bunchems Mega Pack contains almost 400 Bunchems and a lot of accessories. For around $20, it's a great buy. I am definitely putting these on my wishlist!