“ Brand: Early Learning Centre / Type: Bug catcher toy „
This is an item we first borrowed from our local toy library last year but my son loved it so much we ended up buying him it as part of a home made explores kit for his birthday in January.
What is it?
The set comprises of a long handled net, the handle is a green colour and the net is sewn around the handle. The carrier itself is a large plastic clear container with a green plastic handle. The top part of the carrier is made from green plastic and contains air holes for your specimens. The screw top element of the carrier has a magnifying glass section for you to observe the things you collect. The set is designed for children 3 upwards.
My son has loved this carrier and we have used it on many occasions when we have been to our local woods and ponds for him to look at nature and various bugs and beasties. The carrier is a little large for him to carry at 3 years old and it often bumps along the ground however despite this rough treatment it has never broken or shows any signs of cracking. The plastic container is a good size and fits adequately lots of leaves twigs and other such flora that the bugs live on to keep them happy. It also copes very well when filled with water to look for fish and frogs spawn etc and the container seems to cope well with this amount of weight in it. The toughened bit at the top seems to be well designed to cope with the bashes that it receives as my son tips the contents of the net into the lid. The air holes seem to be more than sufficient to keep the various bugs we find alive inside the container as they are examined. The bit of the container that I am disappointed in is the screw top magnifying section. Firstly it is a little hard for my son to coordinated screwing the lid in as he needs to align some sections of the top. But more importantly the magnifying section just isn't powerful enough for you to get a closer examination of the bugs. This I find is a real disappointment for my son as he wants to examine the various creatures more closely. What we do to combat this is to use a magnifying glass to see the items from the sides. This in some ways actually works better as more often than not the bugs are trying to hide under leaves and things so by looking at them at the side we are able to see them more clearly than from the small glass section at the top.
The net itself is very tough and we have used this both for catching spiders, ladybirds and other small creatures my son has also used it to dip into the ponds to see if he can catch some fish or frogs! Fortunately for the frogs they are nice and fast and probably on the large size for the net. However it does hold things nicely for them to be transferred to the container. The net has often got a bit clogged up with green algae from the pond but it does rinse out very well with no visible damage to the net at all. The length of the handle is a nice distance as it means my son can lift it over his head as he tries to catch some early butterflies and moths and long enough for him to scoop up sways of leaves up with the hope of finding some grubs in it. The handle is not too heavy meaning that he can't perform all of these tasks well but not so light that it can't cope with the weight of his finds in it.
My son loves this and we tend to take it out with us when we go on a short walks or rambles as he loves collecting his various specimens to examine. I think this a great idea from the Early Learning Centre as it allows my son to develop an interest in wildlife from a young age and see these small creatures without hurting them or squashing them as he picks them up. The finds often prompt a few questions from him about what they are what do which is a great way for developing his curiosity about the world around him. Though the set is designed for children from the age of 3 I personally don't see any reason that younger children that are interested in bugs and beasties couldn't enjoy using this too under supervision. I know how much my husband and I also enjoy looking at the small bugs and beasties so I don't think it has an upper age limit really.
Overall and recommendation
This is a great little bug carrier for children who are interested in wildlife and want to examine small bugs and water creatures in more detail. The set is very robust and copes well with being bumped around the place. The only disappointment is the strength of the magnifying glass at the top. I would definitely recommend this for young children who like to explore nature and at £10 for a fun and educational toy I think it is a good buy. We bought the ELC magnifying glass too at £2.50 and I think these make the perfect set for many nature walks.