User Rating: Excellent
Pros:* High quality, sturdy puzzle pieces
* Teaches basic patterning
* Unique puzzle connection shapes
The Bottom Line: This is a high-quality puzzle set that helps preschoolers identify basic patterns.
Up until recently, I haven't had any "academic" toys for my 4 year old daughter because my husband and I want her to concentrate on social and emotional development for now. She attended a play-based daycare center for the first 3 years and is now at a pre-school that doesn't focus on academics. However, my cousin recently passed along this Lakeshore Learning Patterning Match-Ups puzzle set when her two boys outgrew the set. It's been a huge hit and I'm now re-considering my original plans to hold off on academic toys until kindergarten or later.
Recommend this product?
About the Puzzle Set
Intended for children ages 4 and up, this is a set of 20 cardboard puzzles. Each 3" x 9" puzzle has two pieces and is made of a very thick heavy-duty cardboard with a low-maintenance glossy sheen. This is much thicker than the cardboard you would see on a typical puzzle and withstands wear very well. My cousin's set looks brand new!
Each puzzle features a different sequence of shapes (e.g., blue diamond, pink heart, and pink heart) that repeats 3 times. The smaller puzzle piece will have one sequence while the larger puzzle piece has 2 iterations. The object is to match the pieces to the proper sequence. Fortunately, the puzzle connection shapes are all different so your child can't "force" a pair together.
There are 6 shapes total: pink heart, blue diamond, aqua star, green circle, purple triangle, and yellow square. Not all 20 puzzles feature all the shapes. Typically, there are only 2 shapes per puzzle, but repeated in different sequences.
About Our Experience
I can't recall doing pattern exercises as a child, so I didn't even realize this is an early math skill. For what it's worth, my daughter doesn't think of it as drudgery either.
At first, I wasn't sure if she would be able to do it, as some of the sequences look very similar (e.g., blue diamond, blue diamond, and pink heart vs. blue diamond, pink heart, pink heart). Yet it wasn't an issue.
Moreover, my daughter really likes the colors and was sorting them by "boy colors" and "girl colors" so the puzzles featuring yellow and green were one one side, while anything with pink was on the girl side.
She happily pulls the box out to play with this and is disappointed when she's solved all 20. I definitely plan to look closer at Lakeshore's other academic toys now.
While we received this as a hand-me-down gift, the $9.99 price is very reasonable and definitely a great value. I highly recommend it to parents of other preschoolers who want their children to learn basic match concepts in a fun and engaging manner.
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Amount Paid (US$): gift
Type of Toy: Puzzle
Age Range of Child: 3 to 5 Years