“ Brand: ELC / Age: 18 months / Type: Jigsaws & Puzzles „
Toby loves animals and puzzles, so what better toy to buy him; a tin containing 4 farm animal puzzles.
What do you get?
After purchasing this you need to remove the thin plastic wrapper and discard. The tin is measures 13cm x 17cm x 3.5cm, as has a fully removable lid.
Printed on the outside you will see realistic detailed pictures of 4 different animals, each with their baby, these include cow & calf, sheep & lamb, horse & foal and hen & chick.
It also states that the puzzles are wooden and are suitable for children aged 18months - 3years.
On opening the box you are instantly hit by the smell of the wood, the puzzles are already made up in the tin; they are lying on top of each other. Each puzzle measures 12cm x 15.5cm x 0.4cm. Therefore based on the tin dimensions, you will see that they fit snugly inside.
Now you can either take each puzzle out separately or tip the whole lot onto a table or floor, but this will involve sorting out all the pieces before you start.
Each puzzle is made from a light coloured wood, like beech or birch plywood, with the animal picture painted on the top, then varnished, leaving a sheen to the picture. The picture matching the ones on the lid of the tin, but also includes the names of the animals typed onto the top left corner, i.e. "A cow with her calf."
The horse and hen puzzles contain 4 pieces each, in a 2x2 formation, whilst the sheep and cow ones have 6 pieces in a 2x3 formation.
Toby was really excited when he saw this, I wasn't sure how he would get on with them, so I gave them to him one puzzle at a time, we started with the horse - the simpler looking puzzle; Toby was able to pick the pieces up easily and manoeuvre them around in his hand, with a little bit of encouragement and guidance he successfully positioned 2 pieces together, and was very excited. He took the next bit and fitted this in after a few attempts. He tried to put the last piece in which fitted easily into one side, but really struggled to line up the other joins. This was due to the pieces being really loose, I've known puzzle pieces to be a snug fit, but these are so loose that you can move the pieces slightly and you get big gaps in between the pieces, even though they were all fitted together.
After finishing this one I pointed out the horse on the lid, showing him that they were the same. This led onto him pointing to the sheep, so that was the one we did next. Again with some assistance, Toby completed this one fairly easily. We went on to do the other two puzzles, each time looking at the pictures on the lid, also talking about what the animals were and what noises they make.
We have since done these puzzles on numerous occasions, and each time Toby does them he seems to need less help. Occasionally he needs a little help with the final piece, due to the loose pieces, but he doesn't get frustrated with it.
I know that Toby loves doing puzzles and is very good at inset ones, so thought that these would be a good challenge for him. I think that if he could he would sit and do puzzles all day if he could. Whenever I say we can do puzzles, this is always the first set he takes from the cupboard. So from Toby's point of view, this is a great set of puzzles.
I do like them, and love to see Toby concentrating, and twisting the pieces around, fitting them into place. He gets so excited when he has finished one, and for any parent, to see their child with a smile on their face is a wonderful feeling.
I do have a couple of little things which I should point out, obviously the pieces are loose when fitted together, and could cause a child to get cross if they don't fit together. Secondly you can see the designs in the picture above, the animal design is fairly small in the centre, leaving lots of plain wood around the outside, I feel that the picture could have been slightly larger, especially as the picture is so detailed. Lastly, when putting the puzzles away, you have to put the puzzles in the tin, all made up, I am always of the opinion that a child should be involved in clearing up, Toby tried to put all the pieces in like he would other puzzles, but the lid would not fit. I had to sit there and redo the puzzles myself.
Even though Toby is more than capable of doing these puzzles on his own and he's not even 2 yet, there is still plenty more he can learn from them, including animals and their babies, animal noises etc. As they are made from wood, they will last longer than typical card pieces, just make sure you don't lose any!!
When we go out and spot animals Toby recognises them from the puzzles, as they are real pictures rather than cartoon style.
I have given this product, 4 stars because of the loose pieces which can be difficult to fit together, but otherwise I would highly recommend this for any little one.
It can be purchased from Early Learning Centre for £7, which is a good price for a quality wooden puzzle, and suitable for a birthday or Christmas present.
For any further information on this or any other product/puzzle, you can go online at www.elc.co.uk or go to your nearest store.
Thank you for reading.
Nicola xx 09/02/08
Four pieces to each puzzle.