When my sister was around 6 years old, I was looking for a present that was quite arts and craftsy but not a one time use like some of the bracelet or painting sets. Then on a sale in the Early Learning Centre, I managed to pick up this set for around £4 when its recommended price was £6 as it looked much more interesting than the others and something an older child would enjoy more.
It did come in a pretty decent box when we got it, but as the times have gone on, it became very flimsy and tore a bit at the sides. This led to some of the pieces falling out occasionally behind my sister's wardrobe which meant a lot of time was spent trying to find these tiny tacks. If you do have any small tubs that are unused, I'd recommend using these instead of the box to get rid of the chance of this happening.
The set includes:
-1 cork board which was very well made as it doesnt snap if you break it, and the pieces stick well into it, I've never had a problem with them falling off and the pictures made being ruined.
-1 hammer, very sturdy and a nice size for smaller hands. It's quite lightweight and won't hurt anyone if bashed on any fingers, but does manage to put in the pieces very well.
-80 tacks, these are quite small and pointy which is why I'd say the set is for 4+ to avoid any dangerous accidents
-80 wooden shapes, they each have holes in the middle for the nail to be put into the cork board, they are quite tiny also, however sturdy and never had any problems with them breaking. They are also quite colourful and come in the colours of blue, red and yellow.
The pieces are all really sturdy and they're definitely worth the money, as there has been a lot of use out of them and they haven't got damaged yet. The durability of them is really good and I was impressed for a kit that is quite cheap with loads of bits included.
The recommended age for this set is for 4 plus, and I agree because of all the small pieces involved and it does require a bit of paitence to be able to make the shapes and hammer them in. You can make pretty much whatever design you want as there is a large variety of shapes, some recommended are boats, houses and cars however we've made things such as people, monsters and flowers.
I think that this is a good toy for kids, as it does make them use their imagination to make things and can be used for making them understand shapes more. I would definitely recommend it as we've had it for ages and have had no problems so far.
I remember this type of toy from when I was little and I think quite possibly at school! That has to be about 24 years ago! Eeeeeek! My son received some money for his fourth birthday and we were shopping in Mothercare. For those of you that don't know many Mothercare branches now have an Early Learning Centre in there too. I have always been a fan of ELC-I think that their toys are well made and fun and more often than not worth the slightly more expensive price tag that accompanies them.
It was on this shopping trip that we came across the tap a shape set which was selling for eight pounds. It comes in a red cardboard box and its predominant feature is a large picture of the contents inside. Basically inside the box you get a cork board, a hammer, 80 different coloured wooden shapes, all with a hole in the middle, a whole lot of sharp almost like drawing pins and a set of instructions.
The idea of the toy is that you can make your own creative pictures by hammering the wooden shapes into the cork board using the pins. Now the age range for the product states age 4-6 years but I am not sure how accurate that is. In my opinion I would not let my son play with this unsupervised at four years old, however I can also imagine that this toy would still be a good activity to do for a child who is older than six as well.
I have found that my son can make some really good pictures using this set and although sometimes he copies the pictures off the box-which are mainly people, he also makes up his own picture which is great as he is developing his creativity whilst also developing fine motor skills as he hammers the pins in the board.
So far we have had no issues with him either stabbing himself with the pins or hitting himself with the hammer but obviously this is a hazard with the toy. I think if this did happen it wouldn't cause too much trauma. I would suggest that if you play with this on the carpet you need to make sure you tidy up very carefully as if the pins were left on the floor and was walked on I think it would cause some serious pain in the foot.
I have known my son sit and play with this toy for an hour at a time exploring his creativity and I would definitely recommend this toy as if nothing else it can give you a chance to sit and have a rest for a little while whilst your child is happily playing. Another thing to consider is maybe getting a different box for the set as the cardboard one is quite long and thin and it can be hard getting your hand in and out and the box is easily damaged.
Tap a shape is a great creative kit with a bit of a difference from making pictures with pencil and paper. I remember having it as a child and now my children have it. After seeing it in the nursery school they went to and the amount of fun my son had hitting it with the small hammer I decided we should have one at home.
It contains a cork board which is about the size of an A4 piece of paper (maybe slightly smaller). The colourful blocks included are all different shapes and sizes and yellow, green, red and blue. The shapes are your usual squares, triangles and circles as well as petals, semi-circles and crescent shapes. They all have a small hole in the middle of them for the small golden tack to be hit into it to attach it to the soft cork board.
The tacks have small dome shaped heads but can be quite fiddly to hold by an adult's hand. I often became worried when my son would ask mummy can you hold that there while I hit it with the hammer! The hammer is a child size and wouldn't do much damage (I escaped unharmed)
On the downsize it comes in a flimsy cardboard box and I was constantly finding these shapes and tacks out of the box, so in the end I stored them in an old liquitabs box. I think that if this was kept in a more secure box, the cork board could be part of that, such as the lid maybe?
My son and I have had many great hours making great pictures on this board and my daughter loves making patterns. She did run out of certain shapes that she wanted though and had to compromise with what she had left. You can get replacement shapes including animals etc which is good as we have had a few of the shapes and tacks go walkabout. I am sure that we only have about half of the original lot haha.
Overall this is a great way of getting my son to be creative as he doesn't like the normal pen and paper. It helps with hand and eye coordination and also his mind has to think ahead as to what shapes he would need to use to make the person or boat that he wants (i.e. - circle for the head, triangle for the hat)
As there are many shapes this can also be used as an educational toy to teach basic shapes and colours, as well as looking at the fact that four squares make an even bigger square and 2 semi-circles make a full circle. My son was amazed at this concept and tried a few more shapes.
You can get this for around £8 at ELC and Mothercare, and slightly dearer on amazon if you include postage. You can also get variations of this type of toy to include themes such as farms and animals and you could also buy a bigger cork board in Wilkinson's and do it on a bigger scale.
It does state that this is 4-8 year olds and I would say this is about right. My daughter is 8 and I can just about get away with her playing with it, but then she is more a pen and paper girl.
With the younger child it would have to be used supervised due to the tacks.