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Big wheels for your little boy.
We have a number of Orchard toys games and puzzles and I really like them. I think they are not only fun but educational too. My son received this box set of puzzles for Christmas this year and at first I thought they might be a little young for him but now after playing with them for a while I appreciate how good they actually are.
My son is only 2 but these puzzles are recommended for ages 3 plus which I thought was a bit generous as they are only a small collection of puzzles, four and eight pieces only, but they are more difficult that first seems.
Firstly I will describe the puzzles and what pictures they are. Big wheels are big machine puzzles for little boys, and girls for that matter who love construction vehicles! In this box there are 4 big vehicles which include a JCB type digger, a tractor, another digger type vehicle (ok, so I'm a girl, I don't really know the difference between different vehicles) and a rubbish truck. The four vehicles in the puzzles are different colours so this is great for us as we can distinguish between each puzzle when we pour all the pieces out on the floor. The rubbish truck is predominately green, and then the three other digger machines are blue, red and yellow. They all look pretty authentic and include lots of wheels and buttons, lights and levers like proper trucks do. There is also a person sitting in each vehicle, waving to you as you complete the puzzle.
The puzzles are actually shaped like the vehicles so I think this adds another dimension to the puzzle and it's not just a square puzzle like normal ones are. What I find difficult and challenging about the puzzles is the fact that the pieces are cut at funny angles and what you think should go one way actually fits with the other pieces in completely a different way so it does provide a bit of a challenge. My son enjoys moving the pieces around and finding out exactly where they go.
There are also 8 little play pieces, almost like a puzzle piece but it stands alone and doesn't fit into a puzzle in any way. These include things like a traffic cone, a pile of bricks and a barrier, items that go together with construction vehicles really well and add to the scene and make believe of the puzzle picture.
All in all, a great box of puzzles.
~ Orchard Toys ~
"Orchard Toys is a leading manufacturer of educational puzzles and games for children aged between 18 months and 12 years, with a reputation for excellence of design, manufacture and service." All Orchard Toys are manufactured in the UK. I've used a range of their toys and games on placements with university, and with my nephews/niece and have not been disappointed.
~ Big Wheels Puzzles ~
I bought this set of puzzles earlier in the year to help build up a collection of resources for when I am (hopefully) working with children in the (near) future. I used them on a several occasions throughout my final year at university.
The set contains four puzzles and 8 additional play pieces. The four puzzles are construction vehicles. Two of the puzzles are 4 piece (a red digger and a yellow excavator) and two of the puzzles are 8 piece (a green and yellow cement mixer and a blue bulldozer). All the puzzles and additional pieces come in a sturdy yellow box with pictures of the puzzles on the front. The additional pieces include cones, bricks, a barrier and other things you might find on a construction site.
The puzzles are designed for 3-5 year olds. I think this age guide is good but if a child younger than 3 enjoys doing puzzles they might be able to complete the 4 piece ones. (They would probably struggle more with the 8 piece ones though.)
~ My Opinion ~
I think these puzzles are great and will probably appeal most to young boys. I used them with a 7-year-old boy with speech difficulties and mild cognitive delay and he really enjoyed using them. We were working on sound awareness and I used the puzzles as part of a structured activity. Every time he segmented a word into syllables, identified the first sound in a word (or whatever else the task aimed to achieve) he could choose a piece of the puzzle. This rewarded his efforts each time he attempted a word etc. We sometimes used them as a quick activity with just one or two of the puzzles (one 4 piece and one 8 piece) or if I wanted a longer activity I'd present him with all the pieces of the puzzles so he could choose which of the vehicles he wanted to start with. The child I was working with sometimes need a little bit of assistance with the 8 piece puzzles (due to his mild cognitive deay) but he could do the 4 piece puzzles with no assistance.
When all the pieces are presented it is easy to see which pieces belong to each puzzle as they are different colours. This also means it is good for helping young children to learn their colours (red, blue, green and yellow).
Each of the vehicles have a driver (two of these are male and two are female) which could be a good starting point for a conversation about what the person does as part of their job/what the vehicle does etc. I think it's good that there are male and female drivers as I think this will make them a little more appealing to girls.
One day when I was preparing my resources for a session using these puzzles, my then 5-year-old niece was at my house. She told me she'd not seen these puzzles before and could she play with them. I told her she could and it filled in 10 minutes for her. She did each of the puzzles without assistance and told me what each of the vehicles were called. She told me there were 'extra' pieces in the box and I said she could play with them but she decided to put everything back in the box. They kept her entertained for 10 minutes but were probably a little bit on the easy side for her. She enjoyed playing with them at my house but I don't think she would play with them again, nor do I think she would have been impressed if I'd bought her them for Christmas instead of something with princesses on.
These puzzles were great at keeping the boy I was working with motivated and on-task in therapy sessions. After he completed each puzzles with used the name of the vehicle in the activity (e.g. how many syllables does 'digger' have? Or 'what sound does mixer start with?').
The puzzle pieces fit together easily and are made from thick, sturdy card. I think younger children would particularly enjoy these, but may need some assisstance depending on how confident they are with puzzles. These are an excellent step-up from 2 piece puzzles.
~ Good Points ~
- more than one level of difficulty
- play scene after the puzzles are complete
- good for learning specific vocabulary (e.g. relating to construction sites)
- male and female drivers
~ Bad Points ~
I can't actually think of any bad points. I guess the length of time a child plays with these puzzles will depend on their age, ability and interest in construction etc (but this could be said about most toys really!)
~ Availability ~
This set of puzzles is currently £4.77 on Amazon. They retail for £6.50 directly from Orchard Toys.
~ Recommended? ~
Absolutely. The puzzles are of good quality, easy to put together for little fingers and provide entertainment as well as educational value. The puzzles double up as a play scene after complete with the additional pieces, which offers an opportunity for conversation and vocabulary learning. I also think they are great value for money. What's not to love?!
Thanks for reading! :-)
Yet another review of Orchard Toys puzzles from me! (I have a house full of these puzzles!)
This jigsaw comes in a cardboard box and is all about vehicles with big wheels ( as the name suggests!). It has 4 puzzles with pieces ranging from 2, 4, 6 and 8 pieces and also comes with 8 separate play pieces.
The vehicles are a cement mixer, bulldozer, JCB and a wheel loader. The play pieces include traffic cones, wheelbarrow, piles of bricks, sand, spade, bucket and a no entry sign.
The puzzles are made out of recycled card and the puzzles are 19 x 14 cm.
The puzzles are good for little ones -the age range is 3 years and up- and it is very useful having the puzzles with different pieces. My son would start with the 2 and 4 pieces and then progress to the 6 and 8 pieces as he got a bit older. The pieces all fit together quite easily and are a nice size for children.
These jigsaws are good for helping children at problem solving. Even just sorting the pieces before you start is good because they can recognise the different sizes of the jigsaw pieces ( the 2 and 4 piece jigsaw have large pieces, the 6 and 8 piece jisaws have smaller pieces).
When using these jigsaws you can practice their learning skills by counting the wheels, recognising the colours and general problem solving of fitting the jigsaw correctly.
As for the extras, I found that they weren't really necessary. If the jigsaws had all slotted into a base then they would have been good but they just sat there at the side of the puzzle. They didn't stand up so couldn't be used as part of a game and as a result ours just stayed in the box.
I have found that these are another great item from Orchard Toys, the quality is good and they are well made. I can't remember how much I paid at the time but the cheapest I have seen it online is £4.80.