Review: Guidecraft Modular Science Center

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If you recall ever playing with any of those great solid wood toys or furniture in school or daycare, there’s a good chance it was a Guidecraft product.  I remember those solid wood kitchens I used to play in and wonder if they were Guidecraft products.

Guidecraft, known for their high-quality, finely-crafted educational toys and furniture, is celebrating their 46th year and I was thrilled to be able to review one of their fantastic products, the modular science center.

The science center arrived on my doorstep carefully packaged and padded with Styrofoam — a plus when you’re investing a little chunk of change in what you expect to be a quality, long-lasting product — inviting the immediate curiosity of human and feline alike.

guidecraft box

I was going to attempt to assemble the science center myself, but — lucky for him — Brian arrived home just as I was unpacking all the parts.  The assembly directions were not included, but are available in a PDF file on the Guidecraft site for each product, so I quickly pulled them up.  Everything seemed simple enough — Parts A went together to form one tier, Parts B formed another tier, and so on.

The only problem was, none of the parts were actually labeled with those handy little sticky letters — and they all looked very much alike since they nest together.  They may look alike, but because each module serves a different purpose, the parts were not interchangeable.  There are four modules — and we had to start over three different times.  Brian was not impressed with the assembly instructions.

guidecraft assembly

However, it really didn’t take long, overall, to assemble the center, and the assembly was the only complaint we had.  The science center has been a big hit at our house — particularly with Megan, age 9 (well, almost), and Gus, the cat.  First, I’ll tell you how it’s supposed to work, then, I’ll tell you how it’s worked at our house.

The top module is a “plant and grow” section.  It comes with a heavy-duty acrylic box to which you can add soil and growing things of your choice (not included).  I’m thinking I might like to try my hand at growing fresh herbs at some point.

plant and grow unit

The next module is a “touch and feel” station.  One side is a clear acrylic panel that slides open so that you can place “mystery objects” (not included) inside.  The other side has a small, round, covered opening so that kids can reach inside and try to guess the mystery objects through the sense of touch.  I’ll be excited to use this with our “five senses” science unit in a couple of weeks.

mystery opening 2
mystery opening unit

The third module is open on the sides with a gigantic acrylic magnifier on the top, so you can place objects underneath — an unsuspecting cat, for example — and see it in close-up detail.

cat in science center
magnifying unit

The final module is a habitat unit.  It features sliding acrylic panels on two sides, with a sturdy wooden box on the other two sides, top and bottom, allowing students to observe whatever creatures they might want to study for a day or so before returning them to the great, wide world.  (Tip:  Not things that might crawl out that hole during the night while you’re sleeping.  No, we didn’t do that, but I’m just sayin’.)

habitat unit

Each unit stacks on top of the others, and all four rest on a sturdy wooden base set on four casters, for easy mobility.

Now, I thought the whole thing sounded like an incredibly fun addition to any science center, but, so far, it’s been used for very little science-related activity…and that’s okay with me, because I like open-ended play things.

Megan thinks that the modular science center is the greatest rolling doll cart she’s ever owned!  The acrylic planter makes a fantastic doll bed and the habitat and mystery object units make great storage spots for blankets, bottles, and clothes.

doll bed

My favorite thing so far — and it’s sort of kind of science-related — has been hiding the cats toys in the mystery opening unit and seeing how long it takes him to find them and be able to get them out.  (For the record, we time this in seconds, not minutes — he really figures it out quickly.)

I received this product free for the purpose of reviewing it.  I received no other compensation for this review.  The opinions expressed in this review are my personal, honest opinions.  Your experience may vary.

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120 Comments

  1. Already a fan of Guidecraft on FB and WOULD LOVE to have this. We currently hold all of our Science exp on an old kitchen table in front of a window

  2. I LOVE that science center! But I still can't wrap my brain around what kind of critter could go in that habitat but wouldn't crawl out the hole. It would have to be awfully big . . . ew . . .

    I've always wanted the kitchen helper, but I'd also love to get my hands on the whole color bright kitchen set.

    Thanks for the giveaway!

  3. I would love the modular science center for our school room – or the Classic White Storage Bench with Baskets – that would make my hallway so pretty.

  4. jolanthe- thank you for offering this giveaway on your blog!
    i had been to the guidecraft site and i had already put this science center on my wish list. i love it! it would be a great addition to our new homeschool…we don't have anything science-related yet. (i'm science-phobic)…so thanks again for doing this giveaway!

    kate n.

    katenowakistan @ gmail.com

  5. Wow, that's cool. As a fellow homeschooler, I'm sure you understand my favorite items are the bookshelves!! I especially like the book browser.

  6. Looking at the guidecraft website I really like the High Rise Step Up for helping me in the kitchen. I would love to win this science product though causing currently being a full time teacher I am really afraid of not having the "traditional school materials" when I start to home school next year.

  7. If money were no option – that All in One Play Kitchen would be fun for around here.

    But the science center also looks fabulous for use with my two curious toddlers! I love the sound of it.

    Thanks for hosting!

  8. I can't tell you the number of times I've looked at the Market Loft. I've been saving for it for a long time – in the mean time I already have their Kitchen Helper and it is fantastic!

  9. Oh my goodness, I can only choose one thing? That's next to impossible. I love their art station probably the best. But their doll furniture is so adorable and their kitchens!!!

  10. My favorite item from guidecraft is the art center/cart.
    The science center would be great for our school however. My daughter loves watching critters and growing plants.

  11. I went to the site to look around and would LOVE LOVE LOVE the science center!! This is such a fabulous idea, they have some great products.

  12. Wow, well I like the Market Loft, with extension. But realistically I couldn't ever justify the cost! I might be able to justify the cost of the Animal Train Sort and Match which is really cool. 🙂
    Kori
    kori dot ireland at gmail dot com

  13. I think the kitchen step stool is awesome! My little one loves to help me cook and that would sure make it easier for him!

  14. Wow, my 7 year old science obsessed son would just love this. Went to Guidecraft's website, and I think my favorite (apart from this science center, which is my absolute favorite) has to be the art activity center.
    ~Chele
    [email protected]

  15. i'm a fan on facebook of weird, unsocialized homeschoolers!

    i love this science center!!

    kate n.

    katenowakistan @ gmail.com

  16. Wow – too many wonderful things to choose from! I already have several items (the 4 sided library cart, and a corner unit) and absolutely LOVE them! They are great quality and the kids use them constantly. I would love the classic white bookshelf! The science center looks so interesting! The kids would love it and put it to good use!

    [email protected]

  17. If money were not an issue then I would want the art activity cart or the double sided bookshelf.

    juliecerdas at gmail dot com

  18. The corner book nook would be PERFECT in the corner of our spare room where the kids always hunker down to read quietly.

  19. I would love to have the art center. I have a roll around cart. But I think all the cubbies for paper and such is really neat.

  20. I just checked out the website and I love all of them! If I had to choose just one it would be the 4 and 1 play theater. My kids would absolutely love this! (I've actually bookmarked the site under my Christmas Gift Ideas list)

    Thanks
    Tina

  21. Well, if I had unlimited money I would want the Market Loft! (Or if Guidecraft wanted me to review it for them I'd be happy to!). More reasonable would be the Moon & Stars See, Store and Take-along.

  22. I love their playstands (Playhouse Hideaway Bookshelves). I always wanted one when my kids were younger.

    Now, I'm just IN LOVE with the science center. 🙂
    ~h

  23. There are so many great products on the Guidecraft site. The Rainbow Blocks look like fun.

    sonflower277(at)gmail(dot)com

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