We love educational games in this house. We also enjoy completing puzzles, though we seem to have a problem finding a puzzle that has all of its pieces as the children tend to lose them. I mean, wouldn't it be great if little pieces didn't get lost so easily? You might understand why I was quite intrigued when I learned about some neat products called FlipStir Puzzles from Enlivenze LCC. These self-contained, three-dimensional puzzles are quite the interesting creation. We had the choice of four different puzzles for this review, and we chose the Statue of Liberty puzzle as we are working on American History this year with our core curriculum.
The FlipStir puzzles come in two levels: Level 1 (with straight edges) and Level 2 (with wavy edges). The Statue of Liberty is Level 2, as is the Solar System Puzzle. Level 1 puzzles include Rainbow Pencils and Tyrannosaurus Rex. If Harold had been a little older, I may have chosen the T-Rex puzzle as he is a huge fan of dinosaurs right now. However, as the puzzles are for ages 7 and up, I decided to go with the one that would complement our learning, especially because I figured the older girls would be the ones who would be able to solve the puzzle.
What exactly is a FlipStir puzzle?
These puzzles contain 10 curved pieces that have the picture to be solved on the flat side. It is contained in a see through plastic cylinder that is unable to be opened. It has a gray base to keep it from falling over when placed on a surface, and a gray top that has a small hole in the middle. A non-removable metal wand with a knob on one end and a little foot on the other, goes through this hole. This wand is the tool that allows you to manipulate the puzzle pieces in order to solve the puzzle.
As you can see, the puzzle comes already shaken and stirred. All you (or your child) have to do, is solve the puzzle. It sounds quite simple, doesn't it? Take the wand, move it around, grasp the pieces with the little foot at the bottom of the rod, tilt the cylinder back and forth and around, and get those pieces to form the picture. In reality, it may not be quite that easy. Let's put it this way, I hope you enjoy a challenge and do not get frustrated easily.
Personally, I thought this was going to frustrate me too much. I actually figured my husband and girls would have more fun than I would. However, I have found this puzzle to be quite addictive. I didn't time myself the first time I attempted the puzzle, but I believe it took me around 20 minutes to solve. I've definitely improved my time on subsequent tries. In fact, the last time I solved it, it only took me 6 minutes.
My usual tactic is to find the pieces I need in the order I need them, from bottom to top. I use the wand to push the pieces around to find the one I need, using the picture on the box. Other pieces can be moved out of the way with the wand, or by tilting the puzzle around. Once the piece is situated correctly, I just work on finding the next piece.
Do you see those little ledges on the puzzle pieces? They are a great help for grabbing a hold of the piece with the foot. As more pieces are placed, it becomes easier to find the next piece. However, as you get closer to the top of the puzzle, there is less room to maneuver the pieces around. I have found that it is best to allow the unfinished pieces to fall to the bottom of the puzzle, in front of the part that has already been solved. This gives you more room to move the piece you are trying to work with.
I think the most frustration comes from getting a piece in the correct place, only to find that it is upside down. Grrr. It takes quite the skill to turn it the right way sometimes. In fact, the first time I attempted it, the last piece was not flipping around. My time would have been a lot better if that last piece would have cooperated.
I finally got it though!
It did become slightly less challenging the more times I solved it. I believe this is mainly because I already knew what the next piece I was looking for looked like, and I have had practice with maneuvering the wand. I remember when I first attempted the FlipStir puzzle, I kept wanting to reach in and use my fingers to help move the pieces. Obviously, this is impossible. With practice, this urge has disappeared.
You may remember I mentioned I figured the two older girls would be the main puzzle solvers in this house. Tabitha was quite excited to try it out immediately after I finished it.
Unfortunately, she was not able to solve it. She would get frustrated because the pieces she had already placed would shake out of order when she was reaching for another piece. So, she gave up.
I continue to encourage her and Amelia to try it, but they give up way too easily. When we are going on long trips in the van, I make sure to bring it with me in the hopes that they will try harder.
They just continue to give up after getting frustrated because of pieces getting messed up after they got them in the right place.
Though the girls haven't been able to solve the puzzle yet, I was able to find some other people to give it a try. We recently visited my son and daughter-in-law, and I was able to convince them to give the FlipStir puzzle a shot. Even the hubby finally took the challenge.
They had some pretty good times as well. My daughter-in-law Ashley beat us all with a time of 6 minutes 42 seconds. My son and hubby had times closer to my first time: 18 min 16 sec, and 20 min 01 sec. I think the hubby would have been faster, but he tried a different strategy: starting from the top. That didn't work too well for him.
The FlipStir Puzzle is such a nifty invention. It is a great product for allowing children to work on hand-eye coordination and problem solving skills. I love that we can take it on the go without the fear of losing pieces. It is a wonderful way to help the time pass as you are riding in a vehicle, especially long distances. We never seem to have a lot of opportunities to use the puzzle in the house for some reason. However, solving the puzzle could be a great activity for a bored child, as long as they don't give up too easily or get easily frustrated. Do your children still take a rest time? Maybe they could use this time to work on the puzzle.
This is great product and one I highly recommend.
This is great product and one I highly recommend.
Don't forget to click the banner below to see what my fellow Crew Mates had to say about the FlipStir Puzzle.