There are a handful of companies that I simply adore – some have my favourite craft books (Cico Books), others do my favourite iphone apps (Oceanhouse Media and Duck Duck Moose) and another is Orchard Toys. They (almost) can do no wrong in my eyes.. and everytime they send me something for review I love it… and I am not just saying that, I really do!
Today, Orchard Toys sent me one of their puzzles:
Where in the Wood? – Ages 5-7yrs – 150 pieces. Discover what’s in the wood by looking for the hidden wildlife in the picture.
Now, both Orchard Toys and I knew that this puzzled would be beyond Red Ted – aged 3.5yrs, but I said, I could see that this puzzle would still have potential for us and asked for them to send it regardless. And I was not wrong. The puzzle is excellent for us – yes, Red Ted needs help, but wait.. this is why it is fabulous:
The white board is made out of large pieces – Red Ted could assemble this boarder himself. He was VERY proud of this achievement.
It is this boarder that makes the puzzle “ingenious”. It serves several functions – it is the key to the “what can you see?” element of the puzzle – can you find the snail? Can you find the owl? etc. It is great for vocabulary and fabulous for finding details. As it is larger, it is the easiest part of the puzzle for kids to start with AND teaches them the idea that puzzles “can” be easier of you start with the boarder first. I also love this layout, as it reminds me of classic “Seek and Find” books you get in German – they are “Where is Wally” type books and usually have a board just like this to encourage you to explore the very busy pictures – enjoying the drawings, the details and new words. So I knew that we would like it as we very much enjoy the Seek and Find books!
So – Red Ted gained a sense of achievement from having completed the boarder himself. He got to explore the puzzle and knew some of the elements to look for. We got practice vocabulary. Both Pip Squeak and Red Ted enjoyed exploring the picture and finding things. This process actually helped in the puzzle making as it helped him find “little details” on the smaller puzzle pieces.
There is then a “second layer” of the puzzle – as the woodland picture that “boarders the boarder” had a white edge to it – again – this was great for Red Ted, as he could help me find the “white pieces” and learnt to make “the next layer”.
It then got more difficult and to be honest I probably did about 2/3rds of the rest. But I don’t think this is bad. We had some quality one on one time (Pip Squeak went for a nap) and we discussed how we find things and I asked him to look for certain pieces. Red Ted can be a little lazy with puzzle making and often tries to just jam the pieces in. So this was great for us to work together and discuss how you approach a big puzzle. Also Red Ted has a tendency to sit on the puzzle, which of course breaks it up – so we got to practice “not sitting” on it and “being a bit more careful”.
We both enjoyed it and Red Ted LOVED putting in the final 2-3 pieces. The puzzle is now lying assembled on the floor and we are not allowed to move it. Oh and Red Ted’s words on opening the packages were “WOW” and “This smells nice”.
Tip 1: make sure you put the 20mth old to bed first. It all started off very chaotic as 20mth old also wanted to take part. But for her taking part means chucking all the pieces in the air.
Tip 2: (tricky one) If doing this with a younger child (i.e. 3.5yrs) try to make this puzzle when your child isn’t too tired. Red Ted’s concentration did go a little towards the end.
You can now win one of these puzzles by simply leaving a comment and telling us what your favourite game was as a child! Open to the UK only! Competition closes 27 July 2011