“ Manufacturer: ELC / Age: 6 - 18 months „
When looking for a shape sorter for my little girl on Ebay months ago this one caught my eye. The ELC First Shape Sorter is recommended from 6months onwards and is a toy made of moulded plastic, in a take along style with carry handle and is round in shape, with five shaped pieces, one each of a circle, triangle, heart, square, and flower that can be placed into the corresponding shapes on the face of the sorter. Each shape has a raised animal on it one each of a cow, duck, dog, sheep, and cat. The colours are bright and it looks appealing, to myself as a parent, my daughter likes to get it out and look at it but finds it less useful as a shape sorter, and often more of music box, and it is not her favourite toy at all, so let me explain how it works and why we feel that overall it is a bit of a let down.
The shape sorter is a dreaded (by Mummy and Daddy) battery operated toy, and offers two modes of play, you or baby by turning the easy grip flower shaped dial can choose to be rewarded with either the animal sound or a musical tune when each shape is "correctly" placed. Of course the idea behind this type of toy is that I should be able to teach my daughter an awareness of fit, shape and size through repetitive play and she will feel encouraged each time she gets it right with sound, but my daughter discovered the flaw of this particular design very quickly. The face of the sorter has a small button inside each indent, which meets up with another button on the underneath of the corresponding shape when the raised animal is pressed down upon inside the correct hole, thereby triggering the sound. However, my daughter quickly discovered that the button in the indent is raised high enough that she can press the button without the need of the shape and make the sound anyway, now she knows she can do this she hardly ever bothers to fit the shape at all. The shape sorting element of this design is really lost on her now that the sounds are easier to activate.
My daughter does like the sounds that the "animals" make and presses the button, without adding the shape, to hear them again and again, but it is obvious to mummy that they are not recordings of the animal sounds from nature but a man actually making the sound and badly, and to my ear it's very odd, and I feel that daddy or I make the animals sound much better when we read a farm story together. The musical tunes however are quite good and varied and I was pleasantly surprised to find that this sorter plays Ten Little Indians which I think is a sweet tune and one not often found in kids electronic toys.
This sorter is no longer available at ELC but I have seen it in store in years previous when I have been shopping for other children and from memory I recall it was priced around £10.00, we picked this up on Ebay for £4.00 inc P&P, but I am pleased I did not pay more as I feel other shape sorters do a better job. I wish I had bought her a traditional wooden one instead, and so would not buy this model again. I could not recommend it as suitable for the task it should perform from our experience. I have only given this two stars because the tunes are nice.