Saturday, 2 June 2018

Review #3 - 24 piece (set of two) Jigsaw puzzle from Ravensburger (Finding Dory)

After trying out smaller piece-and-size puzzles, we decided to try gradually higher number puzzle pieces and searched a few book stores in Singapore. Most of the higher size puzzles for  an age group of 4-6 were roughly in the size of 25cm X 15cm. To our dismay, we found that most of the choices did not have a good picture quality. Moreover, the texture of the solved puzzle/ individual puzzle piece was not even plain; they appeared a little bit curvy to the extent that you have to skew your eyes ( atleast ours) a bit to see the picture properly. May be they have a reason behind it, but did not appeal to us. We further researched and went to some exclusive jigsaw puzzle shops and found some great jigsaw puzzle for the toddler group with amazing quality and decent piece size, but had higher number of pieces (50+). We liked a few of the brands we saw there and decided to browse Amazon.

So, in April'18, we purchased a 24 piece jigsaw puzzle themed on "Finding Dory"( set of two puzzles) from Ravensburger through Amazon Prime. The product comes with an age group recommendation of 4+. This has two puzzle sets and apart from the puzzles, carry two colour-printed papers corresponding to each solved puzzle. We placed each of them in plastic protectors for better longevity in our home. The pieces of the two puzzles are combined in the box, with their back sides coded to identify them. Nevertheless, we used two zip pouches to separate them. The product box can be used as the storage container for both the puzzle sets. The colour and the contrast (we are very particular about this as we realized that contrast between pieces is very important for Anouk to differentiate the pieces) were great and the solved puzzle gave a very smooth textured feeling. It was both interesting and challenging for the 3 year old Anouk. We liked the fact that her perseverance is really showing up and inspite of the increased difficulty, she was not giving up with initial trials. The size of each piece is quite comfortable for the three year old Anouk to handle well. The size of the solved puzzle is ideal for her to solve it on the table top. The pieces are quite sturdy and after been played out multiple times on most days, have not met with a single mishap over the last two months. Overall we really liked the jigsaw puzzle and feel it as a good product for 3-4 year olds or even as an introductory puzzle for 5 year old, depending upon the child's interest and ability to sit 10-15 min+ at a stretch.

Below is the snap of the product box and the printouts of the solved puzzles that come along with the product. We have also captured the videos of Anouk solving the two puzzles. These videos were taken two months after the purchase, by which time she was already solving 49-piece puzzles by herself. So she appears to be solving each 24-piece puzzle under 2.5 minutes (Initially she took around 10-13 minutes to solve it).
24 piece puzzles (set of 2) from Ravensberger
Left : Box cover (top) and box (below)
Right: Colour printouts of the two puzzles that comes with the product

Review Summary
Product : 24 piece jigsaw puzzles (set of 2) from Ravensburger
Theme : Finding Dory
Purchased from : Amazon Prime
Price : S$ 12.40 (including all taxes)
Puzzle dimension : 26cm X 18 cm (approximate)
Age group : Product specifies 4+. We used for our 3 years 2 months child.
Highlights : Excellent picture quality, puzzle piece quality, colour contrast, puzzle shape, puzzle size, texture. Comes with a colour printout of the solved puzzle. The product box can be used as a storage container
Low light : Though the back side of the puzzles are coded to easily identify between two puzzles, we found it rather tedious to sort every time we took them out to play. We used two zip pouches to keep them separate. Would have been nice if there were sub-packages inside to separately carry each puzzle set's pieces.

Sunday, 27 May 2018

Review # 2 Jigsaw puzzles (set of 4) from My Greatest Child

We had written a review of the beginner jigsaw puzzles from My Greatest Child here. Following the first set, we had purchased two more similar puzzle sets, as Anouk seemed quite interested in the activity. Each puzzle box had a set a four, just like the previous. All the three sets were really good choices as an introduction to jigsaw puzzles. Each of the puzzle set had pieces varying from 9, 12, 15 and 20. Like the previous, had really good picture quality and contrast, which were very important for a 3-year old to solve it all by herself. We had purchased these two puzzles in February'18, a week after the first purchase. These three puzzle sets gave Anouk a very good idea about jigsaw puzzle solving and made her interested to solve more. In following months we graduated to 28 piece floor puzzles and 24, 35 piece puzzles from Ravensburger, which Anouk was able to solve all by herself. On that front, the beginner jigsaw puzzles were really worth it, for the sheer interest it has developed in the kid and makes up for a great hand-down stuff to her younger cousins.

Below is the snap of the jigsaw puzzle boxes and all the solved puzzles. One of them had transportation theme and the other used wild animals. All the four puzzles per set are shown and have pieces varying from 9, 12, 15 and 20.

Set of 4 puzzles: Box and the solved puzzles
 Theme : transportation (top) & wild animals (bottom)

Below are the videos of 3 year old Anouk solving these puzzles. Each video captures her solving all the four puzzles in a set. The videos are taken 3 months after we introduced these puzzles to her. By this time, she was already solving 35 piece puzzles and had just started 49 piece jigsaw puzzles. Hence she appears to be solving these simple puzzles decently fast (which was not the case when these puzzles were introduced).

Review Summary

Product  Jigsaw puzzles ( set of 4) from My Greatest Child
Theme : Transportation, Wild animals
Bought from  : My Greatest Child, # 03-91, Plaza Singapura
Price : S$ 6.90 per box (of 4 puzzles)
Dimension of each solved puzzle : 15cm X 10.5 cm
Customer age group : We used for our 3 year old ( Product does not specify any age)
Highlights : Excellent introduction to jigsaw puzzles for 2-4 year olds, budget option, sturdy and toddler friendly pieces, gradually increasing complexity from 9 to 20 piece puzzles, attractive packaging, good picture quality
Lowlights : Nothing in particular; the basic puzzles ( 9, 12 pieces) might be too simple for 4+ kids.

Friday, 18 May 2018

DIY #10 - Indoor Colouring Corner for Toddlers

Archiving this DIY activity 2 years after the beginning of the project which is still running.. 

We thought of creating a colouring/drawing/painting space when we realized that the then-16-month-old-Anouk likes to do her painting activities with partners(read, parents) and not much by herself. We introduced colouring crayons and colouring books to her when she was 15 months old and she did not appear very keen to sit by herself and well, colour J So we thought about creating a colouring space in the wall, big enough so that no one feels too cramped about hovering over a colouring book. The store room door looked perfect and we simply pasted a big white Mahjong paper (each sized ~58cm X 58cm). It really made the drawing/ colouring sessions so fun.. We never had these sessions on a daily basis, still there will be so much strokes/ drawing over it, that we had to change to a clean sheet every 2-3 weeks.. 

Materials required
  • A plain door/ wall - In our case the store room door in the living room
  • White paper - We used Mahjong paper (58cm X 58cm)
  • Cellotape - to paste the paper to the door.
  • Colouring equipments - of your choice - we used colouring pencils, crayons and water colours

Evolution : We started this activity in July'16 when Anouk was 16 months old. Anouk started with simple irregular and random strokes(?). There were coloured endless suns, moons, babies, tigers, cats, dogs, birds, houses, balloons, her parents and what not.. which all looked.. the same J This was an easy platform for us to teach her standing lines, sleeping lines, circles, curves, shapes as we would draw once and if she is interested she would eagerly try to repeat or would simply ask us to draw again by ourselves J We used to scribble enough to replace the sheet every 2-3 weeks, though there were times, we'll forget to do any of these sessions for weeks at a stretch. At the time when she was around 2.5 years, we added water colouring to these sessions. This seriously elevated the fun part in the colouring activity.. It still makes for a great indoor activity for us. 

Progress : From our experience, we liked colouring on the wall-pasted-paper (with its pseudo-easel feeling), a better activity than colouring on books (at this age), as it was easier for us to join her in the activity. Over time she mastered her standing lines and sleeping lines decently enough to write alphabets E,F,H,I,L,O,T etc quite fluently before her 3rd birthday. We later purchased a white board, where she continued her alphabet writing practices, but still continues to carry on her painting fun in this wall-paper corner. On the parents side, we found that this activity (involuntarily) gave her the idea that any colouring has to be done in this corner and she has thankfully spared the living room white walls from her colouring pencils, crayons and water colours. From once quite-disinterested with colouring books (the notion of colouring within boundaries did not gel with her J), now at 3 years 3 months, she is showing interest in colouring books where she is trying to stick to colouring within boundaries. We still keep up this activity and just dawned on me to archive this as a good DIY idea for colouring corner. 

I have snapped the latest wall paper that I pasted last night with her evening's colour splashing on it. And I managed to retrieve the previously coloured and removed paper, crumbled and in the trash bin, to get a sample snap of our fun J

The fresh paper (58cm X 58cm) pasted on the store room door, snapped after first evening's work, May'18 
The finished paper, which I had removed prior
to the fresh paper - to show a sample 2-week's work
Timeline - May'18
Update : I managed to dig around our photo archives and got a picture of our wall colouring work, captured in July 2016, when Anouk was around 17 months old.. all crayons and very random scribbling and pasted low in the door fit for a little toddler.. J
Sample artwork - Timeline July'16, when Anouk was 17 months old.

Friday, 11 May 2018

Cuppy cake song

Here's 3 year old Anouk singing Cuppy cake song, pronunciation errors notwithstanding J
Recorded on April 5, 2018.

You're my Honeybunch, Sugarplum
Pumpy-umpy-umpkin, You're my Sweetie Pie
You're my Cuppycake, Gumdrop
Snoogums-Boogums, You're the Apple of my Eye
And I love you so and I want you to know
That I'll always be right here
And I love to sing sweet songs to you
Because you are so dear

Friday, 9 March 2018

Review # 1 Jigsaw puzzles (set of 4) from "My Greatest Child" Store

Jigsaw puzzles ( set of 4) from My Greatest Child

There are 4 puzzles that come in a box, with increasing level of difficulty and number of pieces varying from 9,12,15 and 20. The dimension of each solved puzzle is 15cm X 10.5cm. This particular box had an animal(s) theme and all the pictures are shown at the back of the box (Fig. 1). The pieces are sturdy and pasted on ~2-3mm thick cardboard and are easier to handle especially for toddlers. The puzzle pieces are almost uniform in size  and big enough not to pose a choking hazard. The picture quality is very good and has a uniform matte finish to the picture, when it is solved. The puzzle pieces have an excellent fit and the  texture is perfectly plain and has no bumps, whatsoever. The pictures have good contrast and is easy to distinguish between different puzzle pieces. I feel the design was carefully chosen to give just sufficient clues for young minds to identify the puzzle pieces. What I liked most about the product is the increasing level of complexity it offered in terms of the number of piece, which helped me to introduce one puzzle at a time. So, when the kid became fluent at solving the 9 piece-puzzle, I could easily introduce the 12 piece puzzle, knowing that the kid is motivated and yet finds it challenging enough to attempt it. At S$ 6.90 per box, I really consider it a valuable buy for a single puzzle at under S$ 2.00.

Shown below are the snaps of the puzzle box and the videos of a 3 year old attempting the 20 piece puzzle in this set. Edit : We have changed the video to a recent one, where she is solving all the puzzles in this set, which was taken 3 months after she got introduced to the jigsaw puzzles. By this time, she had already graduated to 49 pieces and hence appears to be doing these puzzles decently fast.
Fig. 1 Top : Front view of the box Bottom : Back view
4 sets of puzzles in a box - lion (9 pieces), bambies (12), elephants (15), leopards (20)  -
each solved puzzle size 15 cm X 10.5 cm

Review Summary
Product  Jigsaw puzzles ( set of 4) from My Greatest Child
Theme : Animals
Bought from  : My Greatest Child, # B2-03, City Square mall, Singapore
Price : S$ 6.90 per box (of 4 puzzles)
Customer age group : We used for our 3 year old ( Product does not specify any age)
Highlights : Excellent introduction to jigsaw puzzles for 2-4 year olds, budget option, sturdy and toddler friendly pieces, gradually increasing complexity from 9 to 20 piece puzzles, attractive packaging, good picture quality
Lowlights : Nothing in particular; our kid being a restless one, managed to tear the cardboard layers (after innumerable bends and twists) for one piece, and I glued it back and works well.

Friday, 23 February 2018

Jigsaw puzzle fun

Timeline : February 2018

Our few attempts of introducing Jigsaw puzzles when Anouk turned 2 years ended up in she biting off the edges of the jigsaw pieces, rather than solving the puzzle J So we had shelved it for a while and had kind of forgotten about it.
On a junior basket ball shopping trip to Decathlon at City Square mall, early February, we chanced upon a children's shop "My Greatest Child" with such an attractive line of Anouk's favourite Julia Donaldson (Axel Scheffler combo, in particular) collection. We were just browsing through the books when Arun saw some interesting looking jigsaw puzzles - the attractive features (for us) were (1) number - there were 4 puzzles in a box (2) size - each puzzle was roughly around 15cm x 10cm (3) number of pieces - varying from 9, 12, 15 and 20 piece puzzles, in a single box (4) sturdiness - the pieces looked quite sturdy and durable (might withstand a bit of Anouk's biting and chewing, we thought J). So we brought home one box, as below and decided to give her one puzzle at a time, starting with the smallest number of pieces.

4 sets of puzzles in a box - lion (9 pieces), bambies (12), elephants (15), leopards (20)  -
 each puzzle size : 15cm X 10.5cm

Anouk took to the puzzles quite instantly and we showed her a couple of times how to solve from an edge, any edge that seems easy for her and was eager to follow instructions and solving. After a week, we found that her dexterity has greatly improved and could make good sense of the piece shape and the fitting pattern. Slowly and steadily, she made her way through all the four puzzles.. One thing we found a bit perplexing, was she actually spends time to look at the original photograph initially, by slowly solving it by herself 2-3 times and then we see her solving the puzzle without looking at the original picture much. Both the parent creatures have difficulty remembering such random picture's jigsaw puzzle position and can not solve fast without looking at original picture, but may be kids are wired like that. J Anyways, turned out to be a great introduction and motivation for Anouk to continue with puzzle solving. Below are couple of videos of her solving the 9 piece and the 12 piece puzzles.
Update : 1 Mar 2018 - Added the 15 piece puzzle solving video.

Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Periodic table fun

Timeline : January 2018 (Anouk is almost 3)

We had made a wall-hogging periodic table sometime in April 2017. And from time to time we used to read out the complete table to Anouk in the order, just for fun and because she was ready to sit through the whole thing. J And though she never repeated with us, ( we never insisted, just read it out, without asking her to repeat), we were quite surprised to see her reciting the elements, 10-20 of them in a stretch. It was quite fun to name the elements in the order.. After a while she started showing a bit of correspondance between symols and actual names.. She started a routine of going through the periodic table after dinner time and we tried to record her recitation, but she'd rarely complete the list - either due to waning interest towards the end or digress to a variety of reasons - to say good night to her nanny or spotting a bug somewhere.. :D
And finally on 28th January night, we could record her Periodic table of elements "reading"(mostly reciting the by-hearted list) completely in the first and only go, for the night :) I sometimes listen to the recording on the days I feel low, and the whole elements list in 3 year old baby voice surely perks my mood and day J

Voice recording on 28/01/2018 
Image : Our DIY periodic table (1.22 m X 0.72 m)