We recently received a Hugg-A-Planet Earth, Moon, and Mars set to play with and review. Of course the homeschool teacher in me is excited to have these as learning tools for my kids! Hugg-A-Planets are soft, stuffed globes. Earth has 600 places labeled on it, the Moon has 100 places labeled, and Mars actually has 400 places labeled as well. The Moon and Mars are both in proportion to the size of Earth. The Moon fits in a pocket on the Earth as you can see in this photo:
We already had a small beach ball type globe that we used for school and the girls really enjoy playing with it. I don't let them play with it all the time because its just a beach ball type thing. I like that we can leave the Hugg-A-Planets out and play with them and reference them often. They are squishy and huggable, although it does bother me a bit that they don't stay round. The Earth gets pretty lumpy, and I think that's because of the pocket part in it. Julia sitting on it didn't help its lumpiness either. There are just a few places where the seams don't match up exactly so the borders of a couple countries aren't entirely clear.
Overall though, I think the Hugg-A-Planets serve a great purpose. I love that I can have my kids toss me the Earth and talk about where elephants live. When we first opened up the package, Lucy asked me to show her where Australia was. I don't know why she wanted to know that in particular, but I was happy to show her. Mars and Earth both come with great fact sheets that we will use in our studies as the girls get older. We had to disregard parts describing how the earth began and the age of the earth and planets as this is contrary to our beliefs. The Mars fact sheet in particular has a lot of great information that I didn't know and was interesting to read.
The Earth, Moon, and Mars set is actually on the International Space Station right now! They were delivered on September 18, 2009 and will stay until 2016 or longer. Here is a fun video of some astronauts using a Hugg-A-Planet Earth in a short lesson. If you'd like your own Hugg-A-Planet, you can use the code "freeship" for free shipping until the end of February (this is for ground shipping only). Thanks Hugg-A-Planet!