Monday, April 18, 2016

Review - Begin Again Toys Wooden Dinosaur A-Z Puzzle

I adore wooden toys. I love how resilient they are.  They don’t fade or break, they have a little bit of substance when you hold them in your hand, and they last forever! By forever, I’m talking generations. My grandma has a freestanding wooden elephant puzzle in her house with about four pieces. (It's white and was a white elephant gift.  Ha!) Growing up my cousins and I loved playing with it. It was always out around the house, and as I grew older the silly elephant stuck around. The only up keep it needed was a paint job every now and then because the white started to look a bit dingy with so many little hands carrying it around, but it never broke and it never grew old. Twenty years later my grandma still has that puzzle!
I first saw BeginAgain Toys as part of a Zulily promotion for wooden toys. Since I already love the idea of wooden toys I was enthralled with the whole list of toys but I was absolutely mesmerized by the BeginAgain Puzzles. I was hit with a wave of nostalgia seeing the free standing animal family puzzles (they even have an elephant!) and pulled in by the beauty and simplicity of their designs. The patterns on their puzzles are unique, the painting is colorful, and they’ve made them even better learning tools by having numbered or lettered pieces on some of the puzzles (uppercase and lowercase depending on the side of the puzzle you’re looking at).

Plus I can really get behind the BeginAgain company and their “Workshop Rules” aka moto for toys:
  1. Kids are the true noisemakers!
    – No batteries, no electronics, ever!
  2. Share your ideas, then build
    – Collaborate, share, and build in partnership.
  3. Don’t leave a mess
    – Take OIL out of play, use plant based materials whenever possible and always reduce, recycle, and seek improvement.
  4. Great products have greater purpose
    – BeginAgain gives 1% to the community.
These puzzles are fairly expensive ranging from $10-$30, but my grandmas puzzles had lasted through multiple generations and these puzzles looked like they were built for the same kind of multi generational love.  To me it seemed worth the price.  And so we got the wooden alphabet dinosaur puzzle.  A puzzle I knew was a little advanced for my young son, but it seemed like a puzzle he could grow into and one that I could use as a teaching tool in a lot of different ways as he did. 

The puzzle came with a nice wooden tray, great for storing the pieces in when the puzzle if finished or still in pieces (though I wish the tray had a lid…). One side of the puzzle has capital letters the other side has lowercase letters so your child has a chance to learn both, and the puzzle can be built face up, face down or standing on it’s feet.
The puzzle is well crafted and the pieces are solid and easy to put together. I was a little surprised by the difficulty of the puzzle, I thought it would be a breeze since it’s more or less alphabetized, but I think I relied on the alphabet a little too much and it took me a try or two to piece the thing back together. I thought it was surprisingly fun to piece together and I really love how big the pieces are the 3D feel of the puzzle.
My son LOVED that this was a dinosaur! But the actual puzzle part was still a bit beyond his ability. While he wasn’t able to build the puzzle, but he did get a good chance to work on his fine motor skills as I helped him piece little bits of it together and he had a blast identifying the different letters on the pieces and sorting the colored shapes into piles. And the great thing about puzzle is, it’s wood, it’s not going to fade or break and we can play with it all over again when he’s ready to start piecing the whole thing together.

Begin Again toys wooden puzzles review

Begin Again toys wooden puzzles review

I guess I really got this puzzle in part for me.  On their website they have a whole range of puzzle, many with much more simple pieces (like the cat puzzle pictured above). I have a feeling that my two year old would have had a lot more success piecing those together.. and possibly also enjoyed being able to play with the individual cat pieces in the process.

They have a butterfly that is a tint but more intense than my dinosaur puzzle suggested for 5 year olds, a food assortment puzzle (Alphabites) that is suggest for 3+, and adorable wooden block puzzles for 18+ months. The Alphabites Puzzle, has pieces shaped like a bunch of food, and when all the pieces are removed from the tray, the tray is shaped like a serving tray, complete with plate and napkin and the flip side of the tray is shaved like a stove top! It sounds like some fantastic, dual use play food to me.

BeginAgain Puzzle Pros: 
  • Super Sturdy Puzzle
  • Duel Use Puzzle 
  • Brightly Colored 
  • Made Sustainably 
  • Teaching Tool
  • Easy to Hold Pieces 

BeginAgain Puzzle Cons: 
  • Expensive
  • The storage box doesn't have a lid

Anyway.  I've been really happy with my puzzle.  It's as awesome as it looks and it's fun to build.  I really think these puzzles and this company is worth checking out! See more BeginAgain Toys on: 

Website / Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest

We love puzzles at our house, if you've come across any great or unique ones please tell me more about them in the comments section,