“ Brand: Early Learning Centre „
I bought this weigh it up game for my son a while ago when it was on sale at the Early Learning Centre. At the time, he was much too young for it but developing an interest in numbers and the price it was at was too good to miss (It was half price at just £4). It was at Christmas last year that I decided to give it to him - thinking that he was perhaps still too young for it but would get a little enjoyment from playing. It is for children aged 3 years plus. THE GAME The game is a simple maths game. You are provided with numbers from 1-9 and a scale (one of the old-fashioned sort that you need to balance). There are two sets of the numbers 1-6 and just one set from number 7 onwards. The idea of the game is that you place the numbers of either end of the scales to balance them. This means that you can use the scales to do simple addition and subtraction equations. The scales are made of lightweight plastic - our set have a red body and green scale arms but it looks like it has been changed to a blue colour in the most recent version of the game. On the front of the scales there is a sticker with two red crosses and a green tick on. The green tick is in the centre. There is an orange triangle of plastic attached to the arm of the scales that hovers over this sticker, so when balanced it is over the tick and when it is heavier on one side it is over one of the crosses. On the bottom of the scales, there is a plastic stand. This pulls off and you can remove the back of the scales. Inside, there are the plastic numbers that can be used to play the game. They are various colours (green, blue and orange in our version). They are also different sizes according to how large the number is - so one is the smallest and nine the largest. Each number has a plastic hook at the top so that they can be hung on the arm of the scales - which has two big circles at either end, behind which the numbers can hang. The aim of the game is very simple - you just need to balance the scales. There are no hard and fast rules as such, you just add numbers to or take numbers from either side to make the scales balance. Therefore it is an ideal game for a child to play independently. Alternatively, you can take turns to add/take numbers from either side to make it balance. PLAYING Whilst my son, at not quite three years of age, has not quite grasped the concept of the game completely, he does enjoy playing with the scales. He finds the numbers easy to handle and hanging them on the scales has developed his hand-eye co-ordination skills too. It is quite tricky to hang them and get them to stay there as the hooks are so little and they are also stationary too - they do not rotate round. He enjoys making the scales tip one way and then another by piling the numbers on - he doesn't really have much idea what is doing it other than lots of numbers. The game does aid his familiarity with numbers though. He could already recognise the numbers from one to ten but this certainly doesn't harm and helps reinforce his learning. As he puts a number on the scales, I encourage him to tell me what that number is and he will sometimes hold up the number of fingers that corresponds to that number - helping him with the basic skills that he will use for maths when he is a little older. The fact that the larger numbers are physically bigger (ie the number nine is larger than the number three etc) means that we can discuss 'bigger than' and 'smaller than' and my son can actually see which numbers are bigger than others. The scales are quite flimsy - being made of plastic and hollow, they are quite lightweight. This means that they fall over easily and my son will knock them over when playing. This is frustrating for him as the numbers fall off very easily. OVERALL OPINION The game is very basic in concept and easy to play. My son is not yet three and hasn't had the full benefit from the simple maths that this offers. It has introduced him to the concept of numbers balancing (and being equal to one another) and helped with number recognition. It is obviously very cheaply made - of a lightweight plastic with no 'added extras' such as lights or sounds so I think the £4 I paid was probably about right (despite the full price being £8 which I think is rather high). The fact that the game is simple probably appeals to my son, even if he doesn't fully understand it yet. As he gets a bit older and becomes more aware of basic maths I think this will be a good tool to use to make simple additions and subtractions more fun. It is also a great visual aid to help his understanding. We have used it in conjunction with counting on our fingers to do simple sums like 1 + 1 = 2, but have not gone any further yet so we still have plenty of life left in this toy. I think balancing the scales definitely adds the fun factor to basic maths as well as helping explain with a visual aid. The game is obviously cheaply made, which for me is it's one major negative point. It is very lightweight and, whilst I like the idea of storing the numbers inside the scales so it is all self contained and nothing gets lost, it means that the scales are very flimsy to play with and I do worry about them cracking. Overall, a nice concept which is fun and easy to play - it just could have been better made.
A fun way of helping your child learn numbers and develop maths skills. When the numbers balance on both sides of the scales, the answer is correct.