We've got quite a few Orchard Toys jigsaw puzzles, especially the big ones, and I'm a big fan of their brightly coloured and attractively drawn illustrations. They are very attractive for pre-schoolers and The Boy is always drawn to Orchard Toys' games and puzzles above any others.
The Jungle Express puzzle is a slightly different puzzle to normal, as it has been designed as a 'talkabout number puzzle' ideal for pre-schoolers and children in the Foundation Phase as it promotes discussion about numbers in a natural way giving context to the concept.
As you can see, the picture shows a train with an engine and ten carriages following behind. In each carriage is a different quantity of an animal, dependent upon the number carriage they are in. It's a 30 piece jigsaw; three rows and ten pieces in each row.
Normally The Boy is capable of doing jigsaw puzzles between 30 and 50 pieces, and so I was initially apprehensive of the challenge of this jigsaw, but was happy to review it for the mathematical development available through it. However, it is actually quite a challenging jigsaw because of the way that the carriages have been drawn going up and down hills; they don't join together in a straight forward manner. This in itself is mathematical development because it relies upon The Boy drawing upon problem solving skills; using a picture to solve a problem, trial and error, and logical thinking. (And if you think I've just made up those areas of problem-solving, then I shall happily show you the hand-outs from a Maths course I went on a few years ago).
We've developed our own way of doing the puzzle, in opposition to the normal 'do the edges first' approach; we do the middle row first. This way he can link the carriages together in the correct order, then we do the 'sky' row and then the 'ground' row.
This puzzle of course can be left at just joining the pieces, but it would be a travesty not to take advantage of the opportunities for discussion. There are times when I look desperately for a question to ask about something, and my brain fails me. Orchard Toys recognises that sometimes there are days when there's not enough coffee or chocolate to help, and so on the back of the box they have printed a brilliant guide which gives over fifteen questions to start you off; Can you find the ___? What is the colour of the ____ carriage? Are there more ___ or ___ on the train? and my favourite question: Where do you think the train is going?
One of my favourite parts of any Orchard Toys product is the 'Educational Guide':
- Develop counting and number skills.
- Develop hand-eye co-ordination and fine motor skills.
- Help compare, discuss and investigate.
- Links with Early Learning Goals and National Curriculum Key Stage 1.
But of course, our most favourite part is how much fun they are!
'Jungle Express' is available from Orchard Toys for £9.75
We were sent this product for the purpose of this review, our opinions is honest and unbiased.