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My second child Logan was 19 months at Christmas, what do you get for a child that age? Luckily, he had just shown an interest in Thomas the Tank Engine (more so the theme tune) which proved useful to my family and they excitedly began purchasing as many Thomas related toys as they could muster. Logan received this lovely wooden Thomas the Tank Engine jigsaw (or playtray as some call them) as a gift from my sister, his much loved Aunty Emma.
Ravensburger began in Germany in 1883 and was founded by Otto Maier. They distribute to more than ninety countries worldwide and are the number one bestsellers in Europe for puzzles. I was already accustomed to Ravensburger, my eldest son is seven and has had many cardboard jigsaws over the years made by this company in many designs, such as Disney/ Pixar Cars and in many shapes and sizes to suit his age. This was the first time though that I had ever seen one of these toddler designed woodern jigsaws made by them. My sister bought it from Amazon for £7.99. I think this is a very reasonable price as they cost the same in the Early Learning Centre for this size but without the well known characters.
The Toys R Us website advises that it is for ages two and up, although confusingly, Amazon state from the age of three. Logan is now a month away from his second birthday and can complete it without help so I agree with Toys R Us! The lift out shapes vary in size but none are what could be considered dangerously small. They are just outlines of each character, so they fit into a gap, rather than the usual key shaped jigsaw pieces which connect together. Jigsaws like these aid young toddlers with their fine motor skills and dexterity, it's a joy to watch them over time learn to turn the shapes so they fit into the correct holes and actually stop and deduce which piece suits which hole accordingly. In the three and a half months since Logan received this I have watched him grow from not having a clue but enjoying the pictures, to knowing exactly where each piece sits and placing them correctly with ease. Each piece has a character printed on and their names are also shown which when repeatedly read out helps them to familiarise with them.
I've always found the usual Ravensburger Jigsaws to be as good quality as a cardboard product can be and this wooden version follows suit. It measures 29cm x 20.5cm and looks like it's made of plywood. It has been finished well, the edges are slightly rounded and are fairly smooth. The top and the removable pieces have been thinly varnished, the pictures underneath are bright, vibrant and nicely detailed, none of our pieces have a scratch on them even though they do get quite a bit of rough treatment. The little yellow pegs which are used to lift the pieces are quite small, but are securely fixed to the centre of each piece. They are very close to the wood and are difficult to get in the mouth. None of our pegs have come loose at all and the tiny size encourages the important pincer grip. There are eight pieces, Thomas, Percy, Emily, Harold, Spencer, Bertie, James and Sir Topham Hat. A couple of the pieces are similar in shape and size (Percy and Emily) and some vary from one extent to the other (Emily is the smallest piece and Spencer which is the largest) This all aids in a toddlers concentration and helps them to realise cause and effect, i.e. This shape doesn't fit, what if I turn it?/ try another piece?
At first Logan was mainly familiar with just Thomas and Percy, with these being push along toys he already had in the toy box. He now knows all the characters, partly thanks to the DVD and books handed down from my eldest, but also because the names are printed underneath each pull out piece which I tend to repeat a few times as it is removed/ replaced. This hopefully should help with his vocabulary skills, although at present 'Thomas' is still 'Nonas' and 'Spencer' just earns me a very bemused stare.
When Logan began using this jigsaw, he recognised Thomas and enjoyed that he could make a little mess by picking out the pieces and throwing them about, but that was the extent of his excitement. In just a couple of months though he is now able to engage his brain and think about where each piece must go and if they may need rotating to fit properly. I'm amazed at his progress and now looking for more difficult wooden jigsaws that can provide more of a challenge and aid his learning.
As you've probably guessed, a resounding yes! The simplest ideas are the usually the best, and although this has no bright lights or attention seeking music, what it does have is time tested learning factors and if you can find a character your child is interested in, a great chance for you to interact with your loved one, which can only encourage them more.
Yikes, missed this one. A combination of 2 of my daughter faves, Thomas and wooden puzzles. I'm in trouble if she reads this. Lovely Review. :)
Deesrev 27.05.2011 22:25
Finally back xXx
Deesrev 28.04.2011 22:46
Spot on 'The Toys R Us'! :D You've got a clever little man there xXx Smashing review of this lovely playtray; Will be back to upgrade VH to an E asap. I’m fairly behind on my E list but promise that I will be back xXx