Recently the kind folks over at Carson-Dellosa Publishing contacted me and asked if I wanted to review a few of their kids' toys. Well, sure. I would. They offer a wide-range of educational materials that are geared for use in both the classroom and at home. The first thing we tried was the Jumbo Easy Grip Pegs & Playpad Set. It consists of 30 hard plastic pegs in six colors and a 25-hole soft foam playpad. I had been looking at getting something like this for Silas, thinking that it would extend his desire to stack and build. He was really thrilled about playing with it from the moment it was opened. It's a very simple, open-ended toy and we have come up with many different ways to explore with it.
First, putting the pegs into the playpad helps to strengthen his hand muscles, developing his fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination. It took him a little bit of concentration to get that first peg in, but once he figured it out he was off and away. Stacking the pegs on top of one another was the next step and he has spent much time building towers.
Silas is really into color sorting right now (He said "blue" the other day. Wowsers.) so we've had fun making stacks of each color or just sorting the pegs into piles based on their color. When he's a little bit older we can use the pegs to practice sequencing and eventually, basic math. He also discovered that the towers, when removed from the playpad, make excellent toys to roll across the floor.
In general, I try to steer clear of toys made of plastic, preferring instead to give him things made out of natural materials. The play value of this one, though, outweighs the fact that it's plastic for me. Unlike other plastic toys, this one is open-ended enough that he will be able to use it for a very long time.
Next is the Rain Forest Floor Puzzle. This is a 48-piece puzzle that is 5 feet across when it's all put together, featuring a rain forest scene that is absolutely bursting with animal life. This was a family project as Silas is too young yet for this type of puzzle. Steve and I worked to put it together and when we found a section of three pieces, we handed it over to Silas.
The pieces are nice and big, so he could handle them easily and we could see a good portion of the animal on each piece. This really helped to keep Silas engaged. Only three pieces and, bam, there's a chimpanzee.
The images are realistic and brightly colored; I thought they were really quite beautiful. It also came with a key to all the animals, which Steve and I appreciated. I can identify far fewer animals than I thought! Again, this is an activity that will have a long shelf-life. Not only can we put the puzzle together, there is lots of learning value in the puzzle content. I also really loved the shape, long and narrow. It made it easy for all three of us to be engaged. Steve and I sat on either end and there was still much open space for Silas to physically navigate around and explore.
Finally, there was a set of Tactile Letters. There are many versions of Montessori-inspired sandpaper letters out there and we found these to be a good quality at a reasonable price. We have a ways to go before I'll actually introduce these to Silas, but in an initial dump and sort experience, he was really interested in them.
They are a heavy black cardstock with the sandpaper letter in white, both in upper and lowercase. The lowercase letters also have an orientating dot in the bottom corner as a control of error to make sure the child is viewing them correctly.
Silas was curious about the way that they felt and I look forward to actually using these in another year or so.
A little bit about Carson-Dellosa (from their website):
Carson-Dellosa proudly provides the best possible educational materials produced by the industry’s
most recognized and respected award-winning brands including: Learning Spot™ Lessons, Summer Bridge Activities™, Mark Twain Publishing, Key Education, HighReach Learning®, Frank Schaffer®, Spectrum®, Judy® Instructo, American Education Publishing™, and Brighter Child®. Products are available at carsondellosa.com or at a participating retailer.
In short, I found all three of these items to be simple, open-ended materials that allow the child to explore them in a number of ways. We really loved them all.
I received these items to review at no cost to me, however this did not influence my review.
To learn more about Carson-Dellosa, you can visit their website, or connect with them on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or YouTube.