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My son was bought Orchard Toys Big Tractor Puzzle for Christmas. It was bought from Amazon for £9.00, which included delivery, and bearing in mind the amount he has played with it, I believe was very good value. It is recommended that this puzzle is for children that are 3 - 6 years old. My son is 3 years old and I feel this is perfectly aimed at his age group and maybe a little older, but I do think that 6 year olds would find this puzzle too simplistic and wouldn't be gripped by it for long.
The puzzle comes in a nice little box and is designed to be used as the storage box for the puzzle rather than just packaging. The box has a little plastic handle which can be used for carrying it around - which my son does as if he is strutting around with a briefcase! The box is fairly sturdy and has stayed in one piece and looks unbattered despite being opened and closed many times over the past few months. The front of the box has a picture of the completed puzzle while the back of the box has an "activity guide" which gives me as the parent several ideas of how this puzzle can be used as an opportunity to develop key skills. For example:
- playing i-spy (i.e. "i-spy something beginning with S")
- to practice counting (i.e. "How many sheep can you count?)
- to discuss position (i.e. "Who is inside the tractor?")
- as well as other questions ("i.e. What drink do we get from cows?" and "What colour is the farmer's jumper?").
Although I would probably naturally do these type of activities when I am doing the puzzle with my son anyway, it was nice to be given some ideas - because it encourages us to treat the puzzle as more than just a puzzle.
The puzzle itself is 25 pieces and is approximately 62 cms x 41 cms when completed. The picture itself is of a big red tractor with a farmer and sheep dog sat inside it - and then in the background are cows and sheep in a fenced field with a bright blue sky overhead. Its a nice friendly picture and has lots of bright colours for your little darling to point out and learn (yellow, blue, red, black, green, white, brown, pink etc.). Unusually each puzzle piece is rounded in as much as there are no straight edges whatsoever - but the pieces fit together very easily and well. Each puzzle piece is quite large and chunky (about 10cm x 7cm) and so the pieces are easy enough for a young child to pick up and manipulate. The pieces are made of sturdy and rigid cardboard, but the front pieces are laminated, which not only makes them shiny, but also means they are wipeable - which I've found can only be a good thing with anything owned by a toddler! However, sticky fingers can also touch the back of the pieces which are unlaminated and so unfortunately the backs are not wipeable in the same way (it would be an improvement if they were!).
I particularly rate this puzzle because there is enough complexity for a young child to keep their interest. Its not overly easy and my son has found that he has to manipulate and reorientate the pieces a number of times before he is able to slot it into place. He does need to concentrate, but that's not a bad thing - and it means that he has played with this more times than he probably would with a simpler puzzle.
Overall, I rate this puzzle and think its a great educational toy for pre-school children. I would like to see a few more animals or objects in the background because there is room for it and that would mean that there was even more to discuss. However, that aside, I think most children would enjoy this.
We have had this puzzle for about three years. I saw it in a local toy shop and thought it would be perfect for my daughter. She loved puzzles at that time and as we live on a farm the tractor theme was something that she would recognise. The age range for the puzzle is 3-6 years but my daughter was under two when this was bought but we still enjoyed making it together.
The puzzle is made by Orchard Toys. Orchard Toys make a variety of puzzles, games and educational toys. I often look out for Orchard toys as the pieces on offer are generally of high quality and are very popular with my children.
The puzzle has 25 large pieces and it is a shaped floor puzzle. I would recommend doing this puzzle on the floor as it is quite big. Some puzzles are not suitable to be made on the floor because the pieces don't fit together very well on carpets or rugs but the pieces of this puzzle are quite thick and stay together nicely.
The picture on the front is of a large red tractor with a jolly farmer inside and his dog inside the cab. The tractor is driving through a field and there are some cows and sheep in the surrounding fields.
The thing I like about this puzzle is that the picture is bright and colourful. The characters shown on the puzzle are jolly and friendly looking and easily recognisable for a small child. The pieces of the puzzle are quite large and can easily be picked up and held by little hands. The pieces also fit together nicely and there are no bits that look too similar that may cause confusion.
The only thing I don't really like about this puzzle is the shaped edges as it makes it more difficult to sort the pieces. It is not always obvious which pieces are edges until you have done the puzzle a few times. I have always tried to teach my children to start a puzzle by sorting out the edge pieces but they do find that difficult with this puzzle. The box is quite big and this can cause a problem if storage is short as it is in our house.
We have enjoyed this puzzle for three years now and my daughter has learnt to make it by herself. My son who is now three also loves this puzzle and can do some bits himself although he does prefer to have some help. It is still in really good condition apart from a few teeth marks but overall it has lasted very well and hasn't been bent or torn.
I would recommend this puzzle to anyone who has a little tractor fan in the family.
Put together the thick, chunky puzzle pieces to get this shiny red tractor chugging around the farm. This shaped jigsaw includes an activity guide to stimulate parent-child interaction.