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***Background*** Galt have a wide selection of toys available and they specialise in toys that will encourage a child to learn as they play, through using their imagination and deduction skills. Their jigsaws come in a variety of sizes for different age groups and there are a few others in this series including farm, woodland, dinosaurs and even a construction site, so there really is something for everyone. They have stockists all over the UK and you can find their toys in many different stores from Amazon online to Toys R Us in town. ***This Puzzle*** Ok - so it's a jigsaw, I hear you saying. What is so special about a jigsaw? Well for a start this puzzle needs a lot of space on the floor because it is a whopping 2 feet tall and 3 feet wide. It has 30 pieces in total, which isn't a lot really but included in these pieces are 8 that are shaped like jungle animals. These pieces can either be placed as you go along or the rest of the puzzle can be made up and then the animals can be fitted in. The pieces are thick and fully interlock although they are made of lots of strange shapes to make it more interesting. The puzzle is very bright in colour but accurate too and the pieces are big and sturdy so there is little chance of breaking or losing them. The animals that feature as single pieces are a lion, tiger, hippo, giraffe, monkey, bird, crocodile and an elephant but there are also lots of other creatures in the main body of the puzzle such as snakes, ants and bees. ***My Thoughts*** I have always encouraged my children to do jigsaws from a very young age, because it develops them in so many ways. Teaching a child about patterns and matching is very important and memory skills are also developed the more times a puzzle is done. I'm sure this eventually helps when it comes to reading and recognising numbers, as this is mainly about recognition and memory skills. We started my son off with simple wooden puzzles and it wasn't very long before he was managing to put all the bits in the outer frame so we had to quickly move on to something a little bit more challenging. This came in the form of smaller thick puzzles with 9 or 12 pieces and by the time he was aged 2 and a half he was more than ready for a bigger challenge. His great grandmother bought this puzzle for him as a Christmas present at that age and it wasn't long before he had all the pieces sorted out into sections. Firstly he would look for the animals, then he would sort the straight edged pieces out before setting the remaining inside bits in a pile. The puzzle has lots of distinguishing features that help a child to find just the right piece. The pieces are cut in a way that they fit really well together and this makes it easy for small fingers to assemble them quite quickly. That's not to say it wasn't a challenge for my son at first and we did have to help him out a little bit or get him to look at the picture on the box to see where a piece would go, but it wasn't long before he was able to do this by himself. The beauty of this puzzle is that the animals are very realistic looking and fit well in the jigsaw. When you are building with your child, it's a great opportunity to discuss things about each animal and this adds to the learning experience as well as being fun. To start with we went through things like animal sounds but this can progress into more detailed questions. My son also liked to count the long line of ants on the picture or to find all the bees. This was great for encouraging his observation skills. I'm not sure if I would have personally paid full price for this puzzle because it does seem a little bit expensive for a jigsaw, but in saying that, my son has made good use of it in the 3 years that he has had it so it was probably money well spent by his great grandmother. ***The Age Group*** The age on the box says that this puzzle is for children aged 3-6 and I would say that is a pretty good reflection. My son was a little bit younger than this when he got it but I would say by the age of three he was managing to do it by himself although it did take him a while to do it. He is five now and it is still one of the first ones he goes to when he decides to have a jigsaw day and completely covers my floor in jigsaws. He has lots of more challenging puzzles nowadays, some with over 100 pieces but this one seems to have remained quite a favourite with him. These days though it doesn't really take him long to do it, in fact blink and you would almost miss seeing him putting it together but that doesn't seem to stop him enjoying it. ***The Price & Availability*** You can get the Galt jigsaws in this series from many stores including one of my favourites, Amazon, but they all seem to retail at the same price of £9.99.
30 large and easy to handle pieces to put together.