“ Manufacturer: ELC / Type: Child Development „
My son received this electronic puzzle by the early learning centre from my mum for his first birthday. It is essentially like any other puzzle for his age range (12 months plus) in that it is made from wood and the pieces have a small plastic handle fastened into their middle so that they can be lifted out and placed in to the corresponding 'cut out' section. Where it differs is that it is electronic (battery powered) and the pieces make noises as they are placed in to the correct position. There are five pieces to the puzzle and each is an animal from the Blossom Farm series. For those unfamiliar, Blossom Farm is quite a large, popular range in the Early Learning Centre and is aimed at young babies. The characters used in this puzzle are the sheep, dog, chicken, cow and donkey. Under each piece the name of the character is written e.g. dillon donkey and chester chicken. When the piece is correctly placed in position and the sides of the puzzle piece connect correctly with the main puzzle frame, the noise is let off i.e. moo for the cow, eeyore for the donkey etc. The noise is made three times per puzzle piece and needs to finish before any other piece will make a noise. My son was instantly attracted to this puzzle, largely due to the bright colourings of the animals. They are not realistically coloured and are coloured in bright reds, yellows, blues, greens etc to have a really vibrant, stimualating appearance. My son soon got the hang of pulling the pieces out and the idea that they had to be placed back into the holes. He loved the noises that were made when this was done and giggled and pulled the pieces out again instantly to try and make the sound again. At 12 months, he lacked the understanding or co-ordination to do this completely independently and needed some assitance. At times, he found this quite frustrating. Now, at 18 months, he can do this very well independently. The puzzle has definitely helped his problem-solving and co-ordination skills. He has several wooden puzzles like this that he loves to play with but this is definitely his favourite and the first one he will go to if offered a choice. He loves the noises that this makes and loves being able to get it to make the noise as he wants to. In time, I hope that this puzzle will help him to not only learn his animals but also the noises it makes. The puzzle is not cheap, priced at £12, other non-electronic puzzles tend to price at around half this price. It does come with batteries installed and we have yet to need to change these, despite quite a lot of use. (it uses 2 x AAA batteries). I would definitely recommend this puzzle though as it adds a different dimension to puzzle play and stimulates and captures the interest of toddlers.
This jigsaw was bought as a present for my eldest for Christmas when he was 14 months old, which was a perfect age for this jigsaw. The jigsaw is from the Early Learning Centre, and costs £12. This is a little pricier than other jigsaws you can get but this one uses sound so it is worth the bit extra for that. It is well made lie all other ELC jigsaws, from a sturdy wood. The pieces are well cut so they fit nicely into the board, and they each have a little round peg to pick up the pieces. I found that it was very hard to chip or damage these pieces, and it was quite complex to fit the pieces into the board, so although it was recommended for age 12 months plus, my children still liked this and played with it from time to time until they were about 3 as they liked the sound effects that came from the jigsaw. The Blossom Farm range is exclusive to ELC. It features a range of animal characters such as Buttercup Cow, Dillon Donkey and Chester Chicken. We had the play mat as well with soft characters, so I felt it was a nice thing seeing them on the jigsaw. As you lifted the pieces out, there was the same picture as shown on the piece in the gap left, alongside the name of the animal, so I would say something like, Oh look, its Chester Chicken, and when you put the piece back in it would make the relevant animal noise for a few seconds. I found the animal noises sounded quite realistic. They weren't like some activities which sound nothing like the thing they are based on. My only complaint is that the sensors which were located on the board were quite sensitive, so they didn't just go off if you put the piece back in. I found that if you stepped over it, or it was on the floor and you turned the light off, you would here strange animal noises. Not a massive problem, but most kids will quickly work out that if they put their finger over the sensor then it will go off. I found that as well as the wood being really good quality, the battery provided was excellent. I am not sure what size it was as we never had to change it, and I passed the jigsaw on to a friend's little boy so I can't check it out. This jigsaw lasted both of my boys, and then got passed on in almost immaculate condition, because it was so hard wearing and resistant to chipping, so the high price might put you off at first, but you will get a lot of use out of this one.