Tuesday, 19 January 2010
Chunky Wooden Safari Puzzle
A few months ago, I reviewed a website called Kidsrooms (click on the link to see that review), which specialises - as the name would suggest - in everything you could possibly need to kit out a child's bedroom, from baby's nursery right through to stroppy teenager stage. One of the things that caught my eye was the fabulous range of retro wooden toys and I was lucky enough to receive one of their wooden puzzles to test.
The puzzle is suitable for children aged 12 months and older, so at 6 months, Pierre is a bit on the young side. He did enjoy picking up the pieces and, you've guessed it, putting them in his mouth, but he had no interest in the puzzle itself, unsurprisingly. Never fear, 4-year-old Juliette stepped into the role of chief puzzle tester so willingly that I didn't even have to ask her !
The wooden board has a safari background, and has seven different animal-shaped indents (giraffe, hippo, zebra, crocodile, elephant, lion, and camel). Each indent is coloured and patterned to match the animal piece that fits it, unlike many wooden puzzles which just have a blank hole underneath - this helps small children, who often easily identify the right shape but then find it difficult to slot it into the indent the right way round, to use the picture underneath as a model. That leads to less frustration and they'll play happily for longer.
The shapes are lovely and chunky, about an inch in thickness, and have absolutely no rough edges that catch on clothes or risk causing splinters - great news for little fingers and mouths. After she'd eventually got bored of doing the puzzle, Juliette had fun using the animal shapes in pretend play with her dolls, because they're thick enough to stand up and be moved about without falling over. The website suggests they could also be used as templates to draw around, which is a brilliant idea and definitely one I'll use on a rainy afternoon. If you bring out the paints and glitter and sparkly glue pens, I'm sure you could keep the kids entertained for a couple of hours decorating the drawings afterwards.
At £13, it's not the cheapest wooden puzzle available but, as is often the case, you do get what you pay for. Plus, if you consider that you're getting three toys for the price of one (puzzle, wooden animals playset and drawing templates), it works out at pretty good value for money.
I'm obviously not the only one to be impressed. The puzzle was Silver winner of the Play Matters Awards, and Bronze winner of the 2008 Practical Preschool Awards. If you're worried about green credentials, it's also reassuring to know that it's made from replenishable rubberwood, and I would think wooden toys have to be a lot kinder to the environment than plastic alternatives.
The best thing about it, in my opinion, is that there isn't a battery or electronic device in sight, it's powered purely by your child's imagination.
star rating : 5/5
RRP : £13
for more information : http://www.kidsrooms.co.uk/detail.aspx?CI_ID=1418