We are absolutely thrilled to be in the final 12 bloggers being considered for the role of Bigjigs Play Patrol Agents. For the final stage of the process we were sent a Bigjigs Farm House Sorter to review and we've spent the last week putting it through its paces.
Like the majority of Bigjigs toys, the Farm House Sorter is made of wood and is a house shape with two removable roof tiles and a convenient carrying handle. Along all four sides of the house are cut-outs for the eight animals (horse, cow, chicken, sheep, duck, pig, cat and goose) and tree shapes that it comes with.
The first thing that strikes you with the Farm House Sorter is the lovely build quality that I've now come to expect with Bigjigs and their wooden toys. It all just feels really good in your hand and the animal shapes are very tactile - I've seen Little Miss C running her hands around the shape of the animals several times since it arrived. The paint work is bright in colour and very accurately done. The animals have been dropped onto our wooden floor several times already and still look as good as new and that's because it's been designed to be really played with rather than just looking good.
This is the first time that I've seen a shape sorter with the shape cut-outs on the sides rather than the top surface and to be totally honest I'm not sure how well this worked. LMC initially tried to put the animals in the holes, but then got frustrated that they didn't stay there, as she wanted to see the farm house with all the animals in position. When the sorter is on the floor or on her play table she's normally coming at it from above and therefore just takes off the roof sections and reaches in for the shapes. In this plan view she doesn't really see the cut-outs and since that first day she hasn't really used it as a shape sorter at all.
That doesn't mean that she hasn't played with the sorter though - far from it. Hours have been spent playing with the animal (and tree) shapes separately and the farm house has been carried all around our house with a variety of different toys inside it. It's a nice size for small hands to hold and, despite being made of wood, not too heavy for her to carry around.
All the shapes can easily be used independently from the farm house, with the exception of the tree. The others all stand up nicely on their own, but the base of the tree is slightly rounded meaning that it doesn't easily stand up. As a result LMC has used it on its side as a bush instead - rather an innovative solution I thought. The animals have also been integrated with her Bigjigs train set to help swell the ranks of track-side accessories.
The reverse side of all the shapes have the names of what they are printed on them. These worked really well with LMC's current obsession with letters and words and we've managed to come up with loads of different games based around these. I like the fact that they've used a lower case font for all the letters as this fits in well with the way in which children learn lower case letters before upper case ones.
In the week that we've had the Farm House Sorter here both children have fallen in love with it. It may not be being used as a shape sorter, but the fantastic thing about Bigjigs toys is how they can be used in so many different ways for educated play. In just seven days we've managed to come up with eight different ways in which to play with the Farm House - how many more can you come up with?
Disclaimer: We were sent the Bigjigs Farm House Sorter to review as the final part of our Play Patrol application. You can read Little Miss C's application letter to work for Bigjigs here. Now that bids are being invited to run the East Coast Mainline too she's keen to help Bigjigs out with their application!