We purchased this child's jigsaw from Amazon for my daughter's 3rd birthday. She isn't the biggest puzzle fan, but does enjoy doing them occasionally and so whilst browsing the range of puzzles that the fabulous Orchard Toys produce, we saw this Magical Castle one. We liked the look of the picture and thought that she would find it particularly engaging, seeing as she is quite a girly girl who loves to pretend she is a princess and begs us to let her visit the Disney castle one day and so we promptly ordered it and hoped that it would go down well with her.
As with all of the bigger puzzles from the Orchard Toys range, this lovely puzzle comes in a nice sturdy cardboard box which has the added feature of a convenient plastic carry handle. Great for transporting it from bedroom to living room with no risk of the box accidentally opening and all of the pieces spilling out all over the floor! The box clearly states that this puzzle is suitable for ages between 3 and 6 years, although as always this is only a guide and you know your child best! The puzzle is a large shaped floor puzzle with 40 pieces which when completed will be approximately 58 x 43cm in size - fairly large and for this reason we tend to complete this puzzle on our living room floor where there is plenty of room to spread all of the pieces out. There is a large picture of the finished picture on the front of the box so that you know what it looks like and this also acts as a visual guide if your child gets stuck and wants to figure out which piece they should be looking for next!
I really like this jigsaw and it is perfect for little girl's. The scene that the puzzle depicts is a somewhat fairytale scene and show a fabulous castle with a drawbridge and a moat surrounded by magical stars, attractive grounds and mythical creatures including a white unicorn, a quite friendly looking dragon and a sea monster in the moat (perhaps not so mythical - looks like a pink version of the Loch Ness monster!). Within the castle you can see two princesses, one brunette princess looking out of a window and the other with flowing blonde locks is picking oranges from one of the two orange trees placed on the balcony. There is also a very wise looking wizard who is in the process of doing some impressive looking magic and a brave knight who is brandishing his trusty sword at the poor dragon. The castle has grey stone walls, pretty climbing roses all over the balcony and yellow and pink turrets with regal pink and purple flags waving from 2 of them. Impressive indeed - what little girl wouldn't be interested in completing this puzzle and dreaming about living there with a handsome prince!?
Considering the age range for this puzzle, the pieces are surprisingly large and so easy to manipulate. I think that they don't have to be this big and that 3 year olds would have no trouble with putting slightly smaller pieces together, however the point of this puzzle is that it is a large, floor puzzle and as such needs to have big pieces to create an impressive sized puzzle on completion. I love the fact that the pieces are wipe clean and quite difficult to bend, meaning that all of the pieces fit together and stay together really well. Even after quite a bit of use the our box and puzzle pieces all look like new.
As with most Orchard Toys products the fun does not stop when the puzzle has been completed and there are a number of questions listed on the back of the box for inspiration of things to talk about with your child. For example "How many oranges can you see?" and "Why might there be a frog near the wizard?" which encourages your little one to think about the picture and the content and to encourage greater observational skills. Completing the puzzle itself helps to improve hand to eye co-ordination, so I think this is a great educational tool.
I love this puzzle and can see it still being completed in years to come. The fact that it contains 40 pieces means that it is not too easy to complete, but not too difficult that your child loses interest halfway through either. The picture is eye-catching and very visually appealing for little girl's who love magical things, castles and princesses. There is so much going on that nearly every piece has a point of interest on it and so this makes it slightly easier for them to complete, because there are quite clear things that they are looking for in next piece that they need. My daughter certainly likes it and enjoys looking at the completed puzzle and answering the suggested questions and ones that I have thought up myself and it's always nice to admire your handiwork for a bit before packing it away back in the box for another day!
Available from Amazon for the princely sum of £8.64 at the time of writing.