My daughter is 19 months and loves investigating all sorts of things now. We recently treated her to this vtech shape sorter school as it seemed to offer a lot in terms of things to investigate, as well as the main aspect of sorting shapes. We bought it from a local garden centre for £22 but today it is on Amazon for the slightly lower price of £19. It has a recommended age of 12 months and above but we have only been using it from about 17 months of age.
The school measures around 18cm x 20cm x 22cm and looks very similar to a house - in fact I thought it was a house until I looked at it in more detail. I think the only reason it is classed as a school is because of it's use in teaching new skills and helping in development. It is made of plastic and has a green section around the bottom representing grass, with the main building part being white. There is a handle at the top that can be used to carry it around. Although my daughter usually loves to carry things around with her, she doesn't seem to have bothered carrying this particular toy around. I suppose it is a little bulky and it is also quite heavy too so that probably has put her off. The toy is very robust - my daughter is quite heavy handed with her toys but it seems to still be in very good condition. In addition, the set also comes with four shape sorting blocks. Ours look different to the ones shown in the picture - ours are all just plain bright green and not multicoloured. The toy also has the feature of noises, for which 2 AA batteries are required. Those are also included - ours haven't needed a replacement yet.
The sort and learn school is a good toy on the whole, although I think in some respects it could have been designed slightly better. For starters there are only four different shapes to sort and I would have preferred slightly more for her to have a go at. She is very good at sorting the shapes and seemed to pick them up quite fast. Sometimes I wonder whether she has taken note of the shapes themselves or whether it's just that she's memorised which fits where. Even if that is the case, it will have helped her development but I would have preferred it to have been more difficult and with more pieces so she could spend longer thinking about what to do and looking at the shapes in more detail. Our school looks similar to the picture apart from the shapes offered - ours has a circle, heart, triangle and square to sort so are quite basic shapes on the whole. The heart one proves most difficult as the odd time she can try to place the heart in upside down unsuccessfully but she immediately realises to turn it round. The school makes a short noise every time that the corresponding shape is sorted correctly, although Little Miss doesn't seem all that interested in the noise - I would think younger children nearer to the recommended age may find that more entertaining though.
Another thing I think is slightly awkward is the placing of the square hole for the square block. It has been placed in what would be a window in the school which is a good idea in theory, but it did throw my daughter when she first got the toy. The other three holes are situated in the school roof and at the beginning she couldn't understand why the square block didn't fit through one of the holes in the roof as well. It didn't take her long to realise where it was and once she did then she sorted them all really fast but it did confuse her at first.
I do really like the way that the shapes are retrieved. There is a small plastic side door at one end and I think my daughter enjoys opening the door and getting the pieces back part just as much as sorting the shapes through the holes!
As well as the noises made as the shapes are sorted, other noises include the alphabet and numbers when the music button on the school is pressed. Again, my daughter isn't too interested in listening to these, although sometimes she will start to dance for a very short time when they play.
Overall, I would recommend this school. I would say that the recommended age is spot on - I think we probably bought it a little late in her development as it's easy for her now, although she does still choose this one quite a bit from the toybox so it is played with a fair bit. We have now started to use it as part of her Happyland set - she has quite a few of the people figures from ELC's range but not that many of the main building style toys, so we sometimes put this in the arrangement to represent one of those! With the small door at the side, she can place the figures inside and pull them back out so we've found it doesn't always have to be a shape sorter.
I've rated it four stars. I think it is expensive for a shape sorter with four shapes, but I think it's a lovely toy on the whole and one my daughter has really enjoyed.
Thanks for reading :o)
The Vtech Sort and Learn School has 4 shape sorting windows which recognise each block. It includes number and alphabet songs and also plays a variety of melodies. The Vtech Sort and Learn School has a large carry handle which makes it great to transport to friends' or relatives' houses.