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Toy Review: Super Shapes by ToyKraft

{Alert: This is a product review where the ToyKraft sent us a few products for review. This is not a sponsored post and our review is not affected by external factors.}

V got his first puzzle when he was a little over 2.5 years old. The puzzle box came with a set of 3 puzzles, each having 4-6 pieces to fit into a picture frame. The box said it was for children above 3 and so even though the milestone was a few months away, I said, “Why not? Let’s see what he makes of it!”

Puzzles, as they should intrigue V and so I have carefully gathered age appropriate puzzles that challenge and occupy him. And like is practice with many of our toys and games, we rope in a story element. For example in a colour matching puzzle set, we talk about the images and objects and try to recall a story in which it appeared. If we can’t figure out a story where we have seen it, then we try and makeup a situation where the object can be used.

Puzzles by now are our favourite playmates. Puzzles for a toddler are great for concentration, logic, hand and eye coordination and memory. And over a period of time we have graduated from wooden puzzle boards, to simple puzzles and memory games. And I am always on the lookout for some thing new and exciting.

When ToyKraft approached me for a toy review I asked for products that explore the creativity in a child and have applied storytelling.

Here is what they sent me!

SUPER SHAPES from TOYKRAFT

What is it about?
At the heart of it, Super Shapes is a puzzle set about shapes. With 20 shapes ranging from basic to innovative, the shapes contain 2 pieces each. So besides the square, circle, rectangle and triangle, there is the leaf, shell shaped, organic, 5-point star & 6-point star besides others.

Learning Shapes is Fun!

Learning Shapes is Fun!

What We Did With It

The shapes are colour-coordinated and pretty easy for a child to sort and put together. The upper part of the puzzle piece has eyes and the lower piece has the mouth, making the whole puzzle look like a face with the connector in between becoming the nose. With both pieces put together, the face shows up quite a unique expression! We used this to discuss expressions, trying to make them ourselves!

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20150111-133452.jpgBut then that’s about learning shapes! Over a period of time, V transformed it into a memory game of sorts by turning the shapes overleaf, such that all looked white (so there was no colour matching for him anymore) and now he really had to match shapes objectively.

What happens next is the best part. By putting together two disparate shapes, one can come up with a third figure that looks like a quirky face!

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V loved the quirky face game, mixing up the square with a circle, a star top with a triangle, an organic head with a leaf shape. The set comes with a manual showing some of the 380 possibilities! Yes…there are 380 possibilities of faces!

And really he has not tired of it!

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Super Shapes is great for kids starting 3 and above and can be used by children, well, up to even 10! Ask an older child to make up quirky faces and write a story around the character. There are 380 possibilities…there are 380 stories waiting to be written.

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Here is how we rate Super Shapes from ToyKraft on a scale of 1-5:

Looks: 3
(A puzzle is hardly judged by looks, but in this one I appreciate the creativity when it comes to teaching innovative shapes.

Purpose: 5
(This one teaches shapes and creativity!)

Durability: 4
(Puzzles are made of cardboard and unless you get them wet and /or start ripping them apart, they ought to last. No guarantee on pieces getting lost though!)

Utlility: 5
(Super Shapes has a very strong utility when it comes to making up characters and storytelling. Highly recommended!)

Price: 5
(At Rs 175, this is a very good buy!)

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What learning toys do you like to buy for your kids? Do you let them pick their own toys? What do you think of puzzles as toys for children? Do you buys toys that let a child improvise and use imagination in his play?

Did you find this review useful? Please share your thoughts.

We consider our toys very precious. They are our Playmatesand we pick our friends very carefully. Our reviews are borne out of our experiences and are completely unbiased, even when they are sponsored.

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Colours, Shapes & The Christmas Tree

What good is Christmas without a Christmas Tree?

With the  toddler at two, it is the right time to introduce to him the wonderful, wonderful, fuzzy celebration of Christmas. And what better way to celebrate than put together a Christmas Tree? Since this will be V’s first year, I decided to wait around till we put together the real Christmas Tree. The riot that he is, I doubt the tree will survive him until Christmas. So, the real decoration will have to wait till a day before 25th.

But then what stops us from making one of our own! Today, I put together the first of our Christmas Crafts – A Christmas Tree that taught us colours and shapes.

christmas tree craft

I brought the crunchy, glittery, amazing-to-feel-on-the-fingertips shimmer foam sheets. V’s blocks of shapes worked well to make the star, circle, triangle and square…a bit of mix and match here and there, one for every colour and I put together an activity that was fun to do.

Here is what you need:

1) Coloured sheets of paper – You could pick of any kind. I chose the glitter foam sheets, because they add the extra-sensory magic of touch.

2) Different shape blocks – Every toddler will have a shape sorter. It’s a perfect baby toy that can be beautifully adapted as the child grows up to form various activities. This for example is one!

3) Scissors – If you have an older kid, you can use craft scissors. V is just too young for them. 🙂

4) Ice-Cream stick – For the stem of the tree. We could have coloured it…I noticed it only after we finished the activity.

5) Glue – Use with parental guidance

Christmas Tree Collage 2

What Next? 

Here is what I did. I explained to V that a Christmas Tree is a magical tree under which Santa Dadu (Yes, I made him a Grandpa) will bring him lovely toys. But there is a lot that goes into a tree. We must make it look pretty and nice. Let’s put in some of our favourite shapes?

V instantly liked the idea!

So the big green triangle was instantly recognised. Next came the star and the other shapes. V went over the colours, which he identifies very easily now. He mixes up his shapes here and there…but that is perfectly okay! 🙂 He likes to call the diamond barfi, because you know why. 🙂

I let V choose where he wants to put the shapes. All I had to do was put some glue on the reverse, which he for some reason chose to call ‘medicine’. So with a bit of adhesive medicine under the shapes, V’s baby fingers worked on the tree lovingly.

The entire activity held us in place for close to 20 minutes. Which was a win, win situation for both of us.

There is more to Christmas than just a tree…so watch this space as we share with you our countdown to Christmas.

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When We Pretend Play

As a child, I remember us going on long drives. My father in those days loved driving and we would often make impromptu plans to drive away from town. In most of those jaunts, my favourite place in the car was the boot. We had a Maruti Van (Omni) in those days. It was large enough for the luggage, me and my toys. I loved carrying my ranna-baati, my kitchen set. Maa tells me, I would keep busy for hours. As a child I also remember playing ‘teacher-teacher’. Do kids play that today? I would place my old and used notebooks in a row, put my Mickey blackboard against the wall. I would read from a book, scribble something on the book and teach my imaginary class.

What my mother didn’t know then, and I didn’t until I became a mother myself, is that this kind of play is what is called Pretend Play.

I follow a lot of blogs on parenting and early education. Anna from Imagination Tree is a particular favourite. Reading her views on why play is important was really an eye opener. Not that I undermined child’s play, but I realized the importance of it in a holistic way. I realized V had started playing (Anna’s way) much before I read about the various kinds of play. I just started noticing his pattern.

So when he liked emptying his toys and getting into the play basket himself, I thought it was cute. Or when he crawled his way into the kitchen and toppled the onion & potato basket to drag it around the house, I felt he wanted a new toy.

Onions & Potatoes

Or when he discovered wooden fruits in the summer camp, he was all smiles to find a juicy, wooden carrot that he could splice and join again.

Wooden Veges

Wooden Veges

Or the tea party that his teacher organized in class? We, mothers were very amused that boys took a fancy for cups and saucers. But really, in this age of Master Chef, should we look at it with surprise if the boys were indeed interested in picking up the ladle. Junk the stereotypes, I say!

Pretend Play 3

Recently I picked up a few craft books that lets us cut out cardboard and make into shapes. V and I made a bed recently, and he tested it with Snoopy and his wooden lion on it.

Pretend Play 6

On another playful day, I discovered V was busy with his shape sorting box. He wasn’t using the shapes, but using the box as a house for his play animals.

Pretend Play 7

Pretend Play 8

Pretend Play 9

What I love about watching V indulge in pretend play is his concentration. He likes not to be disturbed and only wants attention if he can’t do something that he wants to. Imagination is a beautiful thing and so is play. And when you realize that they co-exist, the outcome is beautiful.

What is Pretend Play?

To me, pretend play is random play by a child using an object or toy giving it a role and function that exists in his imagination. So a carton when turned can become a room for toys. Or a bowl and spoon in the hands of a child imitates the pot and ladle that he sees his mom with in the kitchen. Humour him a little and he may even feed you his imaginary food. We do this all the time during meal times. J

Imagination is what sparks creativity. It is also what sparks invention and even favourite Indian way of getting things done, juggad! Remember this adorable Maruti ad, with a child driving his car around the house?

Yes, this is an example of pretend play too!

Why should you encourage it?

Because very simply put, a child is using his own imagination to put life and character to his play and toys. Every time your child grabs your phone, try giving him his toy phone. On days when he is not really interested in Angry Birds on your phone, he may well be interested in talking to his imaginary friends. We bought V’s first play phone from Hamley’s. We were sitting on a bench in the mall and I remember him making a fuss to get off. So I took out his phone and gave it to him. He tapped a few buttons and put it to his ear. The next thing we know is that he is walking towards the aisle, with the phone stuck to his ear and he blabbering away to glory! J

More than I enjoy watching V playing, I love playing with him more! Here is what I do or try to do on most days, see if it works for you!

a)      Get down on hands and knees

Your child may have a preferred place of play. For V it is usually the drawing room or our bedroom. On the drawing room floor, I enjoy sitting with him and playing with his toys. We look into his toy basket, pull out toys he likes and play.

b)     Pretend play yourself

If your child has not started playing on his own, then maybe it is a good idea to show him first. One of the first instances of pretend play was when we gave V a bowl and spoon at meal time and asked him to feed me. I said, “Wow, this is yummy Vihaan. I want to eat more.” He smiled and he put in a spoonful of his imaginary food into my mouth again.

c)      Give it time

He loves his cars, so I recently made him a parking lot on the floor using coloured cello tape. While I showed him how to maneuver the curves and take his car in and park, I realized he didn’t understand much. So I let it pass. He will see the fun in it when the time is right!

d)     See, learn & improvise

We happened to watch Superman one day. On the TV I mean! A part of me really wants him to grow up and love his superheroes and I want him to have his own collection of Marvel and DC Comics. But since the film was on, we sat down to watch it together. While Superman went about saving a plane from crashing, I was telling V that Superman is so strong that he can lift an aero plane. V quickly got off from the bed, ran to his piles of toys and pulled out his own air plane. So while we were watching Superman bring down the plane to a baseball ground, V was lowering his own plane on the floor. My little Superman! J

e)      Choose the right toys

The problem with us adults is that we are too grown-ups! We scoff off child’s play as easy. But we fail to look at the world as a child. And trust me, if you leave your busyness at the door and sit down to play as a child, you will realize there is a lot of fun in it. So what are the toys that spark pretend play? Do all kinds of toys make the cut? We have tried pretend play with stuffed animals (our favourite). V’s frog nowadays wears a tshirt every day. He also changes his clothes like V does. Teddy has joined the list too. Blocks are a favourite too. Though V has outgrown the activity of stacking them, what he uses his blocks now is as a glass to feed his stuffed animals. Cars are a favourite for the boys, and I recently bought him two construction vehicles. Play dough is another favourite. While until now, we are learning colours with play dough, what I really want to do with play dough is this. We have bought play dough from the market, but I plan to make some play dough at home too. You can always use some plain and simple maida or aata. Try reading this book to your child – a perfect recipe for imaginative play.

 

So does your child engage in pretend play? What does your child enjoy playing with? Do you observe your child at play? What lessons is your child deriving out of his own play? 

A part of what I will now do on this blog is to share all the fun things that we are doing as parent and child. What are the discoveries that we make and the lessons we learn. We will also share reviews, views and experiences of growing up. I hope you have fun watching us grow up!