Product Type: Orchard Toys Puzzle
Newest Review: ... four and eight pieces only, but they are more difficult that first seems. Firstly I will describe the puzzles and what pictures the... more
Look at the wheels!
Orchard Toys Big Wheels
Member Name: bluejules
Orchard Toys Big Wheels
Advantages: entertaining and educational
"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! :-)
Summary: Great value puzzles
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