Product Type: ELC Outdoor Toy
Newest Review: ... - it would be easy to get the numbers all mixed up and you can't have a proper game of Hopscotch like that! Even then at three Hollie co... more
A Hop, Skip and a Jump!
Member Name: chrisandmark
Advantages: It's a fun way to get your kids active in the warm weather, excellent quality
Disadvantages: The foam discs are too light to cope with breezy conditions
I remember the day I bought this Hopscotch set because it was the day after my son was born - Christmas Eve 2010. We were actually on our way home from the hospital but Mark, left on his own to complete Christmas that year (it was never going to end well...), remembered he needed some last minute Christmas Dinner bits so popped into the huge Tesco next door to the hospital - it's a sad sign of the times that David had his first 'outside the hospital' feed on Tesco car park while we waited for his dad and sister to complete the Chrimbo shopping! As well as all the necessities Mark came out with a few last minute stocking fillers, including this most un-winterlike Hopscotch game which is possibly the last thing I would have considered buying during a snowy Christmas period - but a game which has been played to death since the kids received it.
Basically for your money you get ten foam tiles, each with a number on, plus four circles of foam to replace the stones you would have thrown in years gone by to play Hopscotch. The tiles are edged with a kind of jigsaw cut so they fit together nicely, children need to know their numbers to set the Hopscotch grid up properly as the tiles will fit in any order as they're uniform in size and shaping - it would be easy to get the numbers all mixed up and you can't have a proper game of Hopscotch like that! Even then at three Hollie could count well enough to get all numbers in the correct order (Christmas Day was largely spent with the more impressive toys being ignored and this cheap garden toy put together to run down the hallway), she knew the gist of the game despite the fact that she decided to play her own version of the rules although has since mastered how to play 'properly'.
The game is very simple. Throw one of the circular foam discs onto the grid and Hopscotch your way up the number it's landed on, pick it up and Hopscotch back - the aim of the game is to get back to the beginning without putting a foot where you shouldn't or tottering off the grid altogether. You can play one of two ways; freestyle where you toss the disc at will or in a more structured manner by aiming for the disc to land on each number in order, hopping a further distance with each throw. Hollie and David play both ways, as well as making up their own games regularly to ensure they don't get bored with the traditional game!
The only issue I've found is that the foam discs are extremely lightweight and don't always go where you want them to, especially if it's a bit breezy outside. We've gotten around this by gluing a 2p coin to each one to add a little more weight, this still isn't perfect but my partner was loathe to use anything heavier as a weight for fear of splitting the foam while in use - at least now we can ensure the disc at least hits the Hopscotch grid even if it doesn't manage to get to the number we were aiming for!
Considering we've had this Hopscotch set for such a long time I'm extremely impressed with how well it's lasted, not least because it's been stored in situ outside in the garden for weeks at a time. It came in a thin plastic bag which I think could be used to store the tiles, we didn't keep it as the tiles were too tight for Hollie to get them into the bag comfortably so I've just used one of the large Argos carrier bags which keeps everything together without having to worry too much about being massively careful when it comes to sliding the tiles in. The only damage I can see is a little sun fading to a few of the tiles, which has obviously made them look a little untidy in places but at the end of the day this is an outdoor toy so it was never going to remain in perfect condition for the duration - at two and a half years old I think this bunch of thin foam has done pretty well really to even be in one piece (well, ten pieces - you know what I mean!), I can forgive a little sun damage!
As I no longer have the packaging I have absolutely no idea what age range ELC have elected to give the Hopscotch set, although based on other ELC toys we have I'm guessing it would be their usual '36 months and over' recommendation. Yep, just checked on their site and it is three years. Erm... why? This is soft pliable foam, the discs (sans 2p coins!) can't be swallowed and I'm pretty sure that even the sharpest of baby teeth wouldn't be able to rip off a section of foam for the child to choke on - obviously supervision is key, but I personally have had no qualms about David (who is the same age as the Hopscotch set!) playing with it at any point and he's had masses of fun with it right from when he started crawling and would entertain himself by crawling first on the concrete, then on the grass and finally over the foam grid to learn about different textures.
Mark paid £4 for this Hopscotch set from Tesco, as far as I know it's still available in there although I have noticed our local (as in ten miles away!) branch has been stocking less ELC products this year so you may have to look online - I do recommend this one however as my mum bought a cheaper version from a local discount shop which warped very quickly and soon became unusable, this set from ELC has stood the test of time and remains a much used outdoor toy.
Summary: A superb buy - maybe not on Christmas Eve, but certainly for the summer months!