I have been staring at a blank page now for the best part of two hours trying to start this review. I am really cross with myself because this is supposed to be for Esther and William and all I can think about is Matilda Mae.
Baby Tilda loved chewing on wooden toys. She had also just started to enjoy emptying boxes and then filling them up again. She would have adored the Farm House Shape Sorter from Big Jigs. She would not have understood all the potential play possible with this toy but she could have easily taken the animals out of the barn and put them back in again, over and over and over again. And I know in my heart that she would have been so so happy doing this simple activity over and over and over again!
To be honest she would probably have been happy just with the box while Esther and William explored the toy, even if the toy had been meant for her.
Our memories are in everything we do so perhaps it is right that this review starts with thoughts of her.
We love you and we miss you Matilda Mae x
The Big Jigs Farm House Shape Sorter is a beautiful wooden toy recommended from 1 years plus but I would say buy this for a baby at about 10 months and let the play possibilities grow with them. It could be the best £19.99 you ever spend as there is so much to be gotten from playing with this simple, charming wooden toy.
This is a farm focused shape sorter. Instead of a box there is a barn and instead of regular 3D shapes there are a range of farm animals. Oh, and a tree?!?
Esther and William really like the tree. I am not sure if this is a happy coincidence for Big Jigs or if someone carried out some very clever toddler based market research? Which ever way, the tree is a hit!
Along with the tree are eight simple, wooden farm animals. Each a different colour and with their name printed, in lower case letters, on the back.
duck, goose, pig, cat, horse, cow, chicken, sheep.
The animals can be used for their main purpose which is to be sorted and posted through the correct hole into the barn or can be used independently for a whole array of fun, learning activities.
You can …
Identify each animal and the sound that it makes
Identify the colour of each animal
Count the animals
Sort the animals in alphabetical order (quite tricky for a toddler as there are 3 animals that begin with c!)
Draw around the animals, match the wooden animals to the shapes you have drawn
Press the animals into playdough
Find other toys in the playroom that colour match the animals
Find other toys in the playroom that begin with the same sound as each animal
Sort the animals according to size
Use the animals in a small world farm creative play
Use the animals and the barn as a setting for sensory play – fill the barn with straw and feed the animals
Act out stories, rhymes and songs with the animals
Talk to the animals
Make the animals talk to each other
Cuddle and kiss the animals
Make them kiss each other!!
With two nearly three year olds playing with this toy together, or at least alongside each other, it was not going to stay a straightforward shape sorter for long.
Esther and William like to pretend to be builders and have loved taking off and fixing on the farm house roof. The roof comes off in two parts, one part each. This makes it easier for toddler hands to manipulate and has been an absolute blessing in our house where we need to have two of EVERYTHING!! We even have to share the animals out and take turns with who has which ones. It can be very complicated being a twin!
Esther and William have also like posting the animals into the barn through the mail box like gap in the roof. They have also discovered that some of the animals can balance on the carry handle of the barn and some of animals can stand perfectly in the holes in the roof slats. They had lots and lots of fun seeing which animals would fit and whether or not the roof could be attached to the barn again with the animals in their new designated slots. Hours of fun, puzzling, problem solving, exploring and discovering. And doing it together. That is what I like to see most of all.
Esther has loved using the barn as a handbag and a shopping basket. She takes herself off shopping for more animals, or for food to give the animals for their tea!
Esther in particular is very concerned with keeping the animals warm in this cold weather. She likes to try and ensure that the roof stays on and has even given the animals some blankets to keep them warm.
This is not just a shape sorter, this is a Big Jigs shape sorter and it facilitates all kinds of creative learning and play.
Sorting shapes and trying to post objects through holes is a fantastic way to develop fine motor skills and hand eye coordination. It is also a great introduction to problem solving and puzzling. Esther and William love puzzles and I am sure that it is because from an early age we have always had toys like this one around.
The Big Jigs Farm House Shape Sorter is great for language development. Esther talks about how the animals are going through their hole, she talks about what might be the right hole for each animal, she talks about size and shape and colour and position.
Along with spoken language this shape sorter is wonderful to use alongside songs such as Old MacDonald and I Went to Visit a Farm One Day to encourage children to use the signs for each animal. We love to say the names of the animals, make the sounds and the signs. At Sing and Sign we learned a song that to this day we still love. I Went To Visit A Farm One Day. It is great for reinforcing animal names, sounds and signs. This is definitely how I would use the toy with Tilda if she were still with us today.
With Esther and William this shape sorter will be really useful as we start learning to read. Esther and William love letters and are starting to ask what words say. They know at least one word that starts with each letter of the alphabet and can recognise some very simple words. It would be good to give them an animal such as the duck and ask them to find the word duck in a carefully chosen book. I think they would really enjoy this kind of I Spy activity.
We have had great fun getting to know the Big Jigs Farm House Shape Sorter and hope to be able to tell you about more Big Jigs toys in the future if we are lucky enough to be selected as part of the Big Jigs Play Patrol!
We hope that you have enjoyed this review and that it has been useful to you.
We were sent one of the shape sorters for free for the purpose of this review.