Welcome to another Back to Preschool Giveaway Blast Sponsor Spotlight. The month of July is going to be filled with reviews of some great products geared toward older toddlers and/or young preschoolers in anticipation of the giveaway which starts on August 1st.
(If you would like more information on this event click here.)
Now, onto the review:
Now, onto the review:
Here is some information about For Small Hands and Montessori Services:
" Since 1976, Montessori Services has focused on bringing hard-to-find, child-size Practical Life materials into the classroom. Although our School Catalog focus has expanded to include materials across the curriculum, materials for the exercises of Practical Life remain our specialty.
Founded in Pennsylvania by Jane Mills Campbell, an AMI-trained Primary Montessori teacher, the original Montessori Services School Catalog was created with a simple goal: make it easy and cost-effective to find the specialized items used in the Montessori classroom.
In 2004 our family resource catalog was created at the request of Montessori teachers. For Small Hands gives parents access to many of the same child-size items children use at school, enabling children to participate in the home environment with the same ease and success they enjoy in the classroom. "
Having worked in a Montessori I have been very interested in incorporating Montessori type activities in our home preschool. I realize the importance of sensory activities, using not just their sight but smell, hearing and touch. So, when I had the opportunity to pick a product from For Small Hands Montessori Services' Resource for Families, my first choice was the Wooden Learning Game Feel and Find (Item #Y88). It is "An exciting sensory game for hands and minds! "
It comes neatly organized in a cardboard box:
There are puzzle tiles, 3-D Shapes and a Drawstring Storage Bag.
The shapes/tiles come in two different categories:
geometric shapes and object shapes
The girls were eager to give it a go. So eager that they convinced the baby sitter to let them play it while hubby and I were away one day. I am not exactly sure how they played with the game, but they loved it and were excited to play again with me.
When I was looking at the box before playing with the girls I decided we were going to divide it into two different games. First we played with the geometric shapes as I figured they would be easier to match. I randomly dealt the girls the geometric shapes puzzle tiles.
Then we took turns reaching into the bag to feel the shapes, searching for a shape that would match one of our tiles by using only our sense of touch. (No peeking now girls!)
Even Hannah enjoyed playing, though it took her several tries to pull out a matching shape and I did allow her at one point to place the shape she withdrew on her sister's tile as she continued to pull out their shapes. Fortunately, they were very willing to help her out.
We continued to take turns, getting one shape at a time until all of our tiles were filled.
Then we tried using the object shapes.
They were definitely trickier to distinguish between without being able to see them. And Hannah had a bit more trouble placing them. Definitely more of a challenge as there were several different animal shapes, 2 tree shapes and 2 person shapes to try to tell the difference between just by feel alone. However, it did not frustrate them and they were still having fun.
I love that the Feel and Find game is so versatile and can span a wide age range. It says the game is for children aged 3-6, but Hannah had a great time playing with us and she just turned 2 in April.
For the youngest child (age 2, like Hannah) this can be a fun puzzle game. You could opt to use the drawstring bag or not. Give the child some or all of the tiles and have them find the shapes and place them in the correct tile. I would start with the geometric shapes as they are easier to distinguish between. Play with your child and name the shapes/objects for them to begin with. Then, as they become familiar with the objects have them name them for you. Or, ask your child to find a specific shape.
For slightly older children, playing the way we did above is great fun. Give the children two tries to find a shape that matches one of the tiles in front of them. Have them describe the shape as they feel it inside the bag. This will make them aware of what they are feeling. You can start with just the geometric shapes as we did and then increase the difficulty by using the object shapes. Finally you can make it even more challenging by using all the tile/shapes at the same time. You could also increase the difficultly by only allowing the child one chance at pulling out the correct shape. We were able to have Hannah sit in with us, and the girls understood she would need to have more chances to pull out the correct shape. In fact, at times when it was taking too long, I sort of found one of the shapes she had the tile for and placed it closer to the top of the bag for her to find more easily.
Other ways to play, as suggested on the For Small Hands website:
- Name a shape (or a tile) inside the bag by touch alone.
- Sort by color
I have decided that we are going to store the game in the box for now. The girls still get into things they shouldn't and I don't want any pieces missing. However, the pieces can be stored in the drawstring bag and kept on a shelf for easy access. The bag is large enough to fit all the shapes and tiles:
I would definitely recommend this game for use with older toddlers and preschoolers. You will have to use close supervision with children under 3, but they can also enjoy this game. This is another reason I will not store this within reach at this time. The paint is safe and non-toxic, but the pieces are still a choking hazard.
One thing I did notice is that the contents of our box vary slightly from the shapes pictured on the box. This was not a big concern to me though. It actually appears that the image above (from the website) is more accurate.
As for the quality of this game, I am extremely pleased. The shapes are well made and the tiles appear to be quite sturdy, though a few of them did have a small chip on the edge. It also pleased me that there are no sharp edges. The angles of the shapes are all slightly rounded so the children are not going to poke themselves while feeling them in the bag. And the drawstring bag is very well made, and as stated above, quite spacious.
Are you ready for some exciting news?
For Small Hands has agreed to supply the exact same game for the Back to Preschool Giveaway Blast. It will be a part of the Grand Prize Pack which is now worth approximately $300.
How would you like some extra entries into this giveaway before it even starts?
Head on over to the For Small hands website and tell me one other Early Learning Activity you would love to have. Leave the answer here in the comments with your email and when the giveaway is live I will email you the secret code to place in the Rafflecopter for a bonus 10 points.
Also, if you would like to spread the word about this event and place the button on your blog sidebar I will give you an additional 10 points.
Either way, don't forget to stop back between August 1st and 18th to enter the giveaway.