“ Brand: ELC / Age: 12 months / Type: Jigsaws & Puzzles „
My son was only just two when we celebrated his second Christmas and as one of his gifts we bought him the ELC (Early Learning Centre) animal puzzle cubes.
We didn't have any other toys like this and to be honest I felt that the premise of the game was a little too old for our son at that time but felt sure he would grow into it.
You get a plastic base unit that holds the batteries and has an on/off switch and you also get five different coloured plastic cubes. The cubes fit into the top of the base unit and activate information from the base unit. Each cube has six pictures on it off different animals and each cube has a different theme. For example one cube is farm animals and has a cow, sheep, duck etc and another is sea creatures and has a whale, star fish, fish etc on it. The themes include pets, farm animals, jungle animals, sea creatures and insects.
The whole thing is wipe clean but I would say that the stickers could come off if they got too wet. There is no potential choking hazard with this toy and I don't think there are any pieces that could break off or become damaged.
When switched on the base unit asks a question and you then insert the correct cube into the unit. For example the base unit will say find the rabbit? And you have to insert the cube with the rabbit on face side up into the unit. The base recognises the animal by different notches cut into the edge of the cube.
The game is quite repetitive which I think children enjoy but it can get annoying for the parents. It is fairly simple but I think it is confusing that the correct animal needs to be facing up because my children usually find the animal and put it face down into the base.
At first my son wasn't at all interested in the toy and it sat largely unused in the toy box. It does come with a little bag which is handy because everything fits into the bag and you don't spend age searching for all the blocks.
Now that my son is three, almost four, years old he quite likes this toy and will often play with it. I think he might have been more interested if the game had his favourite characters on it and I have seen this game available in Argos featuring Thomas the Tank Engine and Peppa Pig.
I bought the game during a sale and didn't pay very much at all for it but unfortunately I cannot find the toy available online now except on ebay.
The manufacturers recommended age range is from 12 months onwards which I think is a big young to play the actual game but a child of that age could still enjoy the interactive element and the sound effects of the game.
I would recommend this game but think a character based game might appeal more to an older toddler.
This really is a great little toy from the Early Learning Centre. When it came to my youngest daughter's first birthday, I really struggled to think of something to buy her. She had stacks of toys handed down from her elder sister and I really didn't want to duplicate anything or end up just buying her something for the sake of it. Believe me our house is not big enough to be filled with anymore toys if they are not going to be played with on a regular basis.
Just before I took a trip to the Early Learning Centre as I really do think that it is the best place for quality toys for little ones under the age of three. It has a fantastic selection and they do seem to be of good quality and slightly more interesting than you find in a lot of the standard toy shops.
My first requirement was that I bought something that was completely different to all the other toys that she had and also something that was relatively small and didn't take up too much of our precious storage space. The toy that I stumbled across was this ELC Animal Puzzle Cubes. It bought itself to my attention as I had seen it before at a friends house and my little one had really enjoyed playing with it.
The puzzle consisted of a small green plastic bas with on/off button and five brightly colour plastic cubes. Each cube was a different colour and each face of each cube showed a picture of a different animal/insect etc. The illustration were also really bright and cheery.
The puzzle had two different play modes. You can either just slot the cube in the base and the toy will make the noise of the animal showing on top of the cube or if you select the trickier play mode than the aim is to find specific animals and slot them in.
The cost of this little toy is a very reasonable £10 so I was happy that I had made the right choice. It really bothers me when I spend a lot of money of toys only for them to be played with a couple of toys but I could just about love with spending a tenner and it not being a massive success. Trouble is you just never know which toys they are going to take to and which ones they willo disregard with a complete lack of interest.
I needn't have worried, my little one absolutely loved the puzzle, she just enjoyed slotting the cubes in. They were large enough for her to handle even when she was quite small and she continues to play with it now and she is nearly 2 1/2. It has also been really handy for taking on holiday etc as it takes up so little room, it can easily be chucked in a small bag.
The only drawback which hasn;t actually been an issue for us is that the pictures of the animals are only printed and then stuck onto the cubes. I was concerned that these would be peeled off but actually my little one hasn't done this. It could also be a issue with little ones who like to put everything in their mouths as I guess the stickers would become soggy and could dissappear.
For us however this has been a fab little toy at a great price.
My little boy loves this toy and has played with it off and on for the last 6 months.
It has two play modes one for younger babies, where you put the cube in and push down to hear the name of the animal, and one for older babies where you have to find the animal.
The animals themselves are well chosen, recognisable favourites, divided across the cubes into farm animals, pets, sea creatures, jungle animals and insects.
It works by each animal having different cut outs along the cube which depress points in the bottom of the base to trigger the animal name. Here in lies it's fault. If you do not press the cube squarely on the top it gives you the name of the wrong animal. Now my little boy is two and recognises the animals I get many puzzled looks when he puts in a picture of a cow and it tells him its a cat.
It's a great idea, portable and occasionally educational, providing you teach them they have to be precise in how you push the cube down - not always easy when you are two.
I was in ELC a few months ago and heard a mum returning one because it did the same thing as mine - I probably should have done the same.
Another little winner from the Early Learning Centre. My son received this a a gift when he was 10 months old although the ELC recommendation is 12-36 months. It comes packaged in a cardboard box with a plastic window, as usual it had a bit too much packaging but most of it was cardboard and therefore recyclable.
The toy comprises of five cubes with an animal on each of the cube's sides and an audio base.
The cubes each have a theme, one is insects (caterpillar, spider etc), another is sealife (dolphin, whale etc), there is a farmyard (cow, hen) and a safari theme (lion, elephant) and lastly "usual" pets (cat, hamster).
The base has an on/off/selection button and a small speaker, it takes 1 AA battery in the base (included in purchase).
The game is played in 2 ways. The first selection is animal sounds, you put the cube into the base, press and it will say the animal and play it's sound (Cat, Mioaw). Some of the animals have tunes rather than sounds e.g. insects as they may not have a recognisable sounds.
The second way (for older babies) is to find the animal. The base asks you to find a certain animal and will tell you if you are correct or not when you push the cube into place.
The base will turn itself off after a short while of not being used (handy for battery life) and will beep to let you know when it is turning off (also when it turns on).
It is quite a lightweight toy, I'm not sure it will withstand a lot of rough play, but so far it has been ok. The animals are stickers rather than being printed on to the cubes, which again may mean a shorter life.
The price of this toy is £10, which I think is good value and makes it perfect for a small gift.
Let's look at the animals on the cubes. What are their names and what do they sound like? We can put the right one in the square when the voice asks us to.