Monday, June 13, 2011

Sun Sorter from Guidecraft (Review)

As the last two weeks of school drew upon us, the Head Start children in my classroom were getting fidgety to say the least! They were sick of school, their teachers and most of all, each other! Bickering set in... complaints set in... and whining began in full force. Around that same time, Guidecraft's Sun Sorter arrived. Talk about a "work time" saver! Work time offers the children a chance to explore the materials in the classroom freely and to engage in exploratory play/learning with children of their choosing. Teachers "play" alongside the children, so it's fun for us to get new "toys" too!

How did the Head Start children enjoy this product?

The toy was added to our "table toy" area when one little girl told me she was "bored." I had been waiting to introduce it during a small group time, but decided that introducing a new toy during this particular work time was the right thing to do! Three children eagerly gathered around as I opened the package. Together, we talked about what it looked like (shapes and colors, specifically). The children quickly named the color of each piece and then decided that the individual pieces looked like triangles and formed a sun.

After our discussion, they quickly took the Sun Sorter apart, laying the pieces in front of them on the table and approached it as a puzzle, setting right to work putting it back to its original shape of a sun. Initially, they struggled with discovering how to put the pieces back together to remake the sun, but one little boy caught on and quickly showed his friends how to do the same! It was amazing to see them getting along so well together with the amount of bickering and tattling that had been going on! They loved using the Sun Sorter as a puzzle and took it apart, putting it back together several times.

Another child joined us at the table and saw me browsing through the included activity booklet. Being the "reader" that she was, she asked what the book was and wanted to look at it. Together, we read the booklet and then she wanted to try to make some of the different shapes shown. She took the activity booklet and pulled it closer towards herself and the Sun Sorter and worked with a little boy to create one of the shapes shown. They decided to try and make the snake and then the bird. It took them a while, but their four-year old persistence paid off and they were able to do so, with just a few reminders that they could try to turn the pieces to make them fit.

After recreating all of the shapes shown in the activity booklet, I prompted the three children that remained at the table to see what else they could make with the shapes from the Sun Sorter. I sat and watched as the three worked as a team, moving shapes and choosing just the right colors. Within a few minutes time, they called my attention to their finished piece. "Tell me about it!," I urged them, as two of the three are receive speech therapy and simply talking about vocabulary works wonders for their IEP goals! One little girl told me, "I use lellow and gween." The little boy responded, "It a'most a circle." The third little girl spoke up, "Miss Katie, know what we made?" "Hmmm... let me think... " I spent just long enough thinking to the point that they couldn't hold the suspense any longer. "It a 'nail." The little boy blurted out. They were so proud of their creation that they went and called some of their other friends over to view their "snail"!

The educator thinks that this product...
  • encourages children to use their imagination to represent something creatively. In this case, children took what they knew about snails (the bushes outside our building seem to be the ideal habitat for several hundred little ones), and used that to create a shape that resembled (in their minds) the body of a snail... I'd say they did a pretty good job!
  • promotes knowledge of the mathematical concept of shapes. Many different objects can be represented by the placement of one repeated shape. This will help children to understand that virtually everything can be created/designed if you break it down into shapes.
  • will reinforce learning colors. The brightly colored wooden shapes appeal to children. I paid attention as the children played together with the shapes - one would ask for a specifically colored piece for their project and another would respond, passing the color or asking another child to help them find that color.
  • fosters teamwork, as children will want to help each other create unique pieces and see what they can work together to design.
  • is very durable for use in a busy classroom environment! The wooden pieces are incredibly sturdy and will last for years to come and can be used for a variety of purposes.
  • space-friendly. In my classroom, storage space is somewhat lacking. The product is packed very compactly, fitting into a box that is slim. It will easily slide onto a shelf or fit into a cupboard and stack neatly!
  • made a wonderful addition to my four-year old classroom and will be enjoyed many times in the future!
Find Out More...

Guidecraft's Sun Sorter is one of many toys and manipulatives found within the eco-friendly product line. This product line features objects made from eco-friendly rubberwood and stained with low VOC aniline dyes. You can see the full line of Eco-Friendly products from Guidecraft on their website. The Sun Sorter set is available for purchase through Amazon and also through the Guidecraft website.

If you're interested in finding out more information about any of the books reviewed or if you'd like to purchase the books, click the cover image for a link to I am an Amazon Affiliate, so any purchases you make after clicking these images will result in my receiving a small percentage of the sale price!