Sunday, February 5, 2012

Guidecraft's Animal Train Sort and Match and Flower Patch Garden Match Manipulatives: Review and Giveaway Link

Each month, the Guidecraft Educators will share our honest feelings about a Guidecraft product(s) and how these products would fare in an early childhood classroom. This month's selection features the Animal Train Sort and Match and the Flower Patch Garden Match sets from Guidecraft's Manipulative Line! These two products in particular are wonderful table top, quiet time toys as well as toys to foster new vocabulary while focusing on a variety of concept skills.

Thoughts on the Animal Train Sort and Match

Easily stored in a sturdy wooden box, the animal train sort and match takes up little room in the classroom, yet has a huge educational value. The toy itself helps foster a huge vocabulary database, as it encourages conversation about animals and trains, allowing the opportunity to discuss the names of animals on the train, the color of the animals, where the animals live, etc. While a little prompting children can tell a story based on the picture matching card in front of them.

The Animal Train Sort and Match set was out in the classroom for several weeks untouched by children until we introduced it to them. Sometimes they pick up on new toys being available... not this time! However, once the toy was out on the table and we sat with them to talk about and show how to use the toy, it became a huge hit. The wooden box was almost immediately dumped onto the table (dumping is a favorite activity in our room) and children quickly began to scramble to try and complete the matching using the matching cards provided. A few of the children caught on quickly and started to form trains of their own, without using matching cards - a great developmentally-appropriate activity showing the different levels at which each of the children are functioning currently!

Thoughts on the Flower Patch Garden Match

Again, this product is easily stored and kept safe and protected in the wooden storage case. Of the two match sets, the Flower Patch Garden Match was definitely the favorite, a surprise to me, as I expected the children to find more interest in the animal train. The flower set, in particular, held a lot of emphasis on colors and shapes with the children. They were all about discussing the colors and pointing out circles, stars, dots, etc on the pattern cards and the flowers they built. Patterning and sequencing was also a very easy activity to incorporate, especially in the flower patch set. These are all very big focal points in my classroom, so any way to incorporate these activities into children's play is welcome!

Again, as with the Animal Train Sort and Match, the Flower Patch Garden Match box was immediately dumped out onto the table. I was surprised by the level of cooperative play that took place - even though there were plenty of pattern cards and flower pieces, the children really enjoyed working together to finish one pattern card, as opposed to each working on their own! In my class, that's a small miracle!

Overall Thoughts

Both of these toys have found a permanent home in my classroom! Not only are they great for all concept areas that are a focus, they are also a huge hit with the children. Great for cooperative play, as work time toys and also as quiet time activities during rest time. The toys can be quiet, and pieces, being magnetized and large enough in size are not lost easily, making them perfect for those with the fidgets who have a hard time "resting" their bodies on their mats during quiet time!

What do other 'Guidecraft Educators' have to say about the Animal Train Sort and Match and the Flower Patch Garden Match sets?

Maureen at Simply Stacie
Andrea at MommyPR
Deborah at Teach Preschool
Carrie from Huppie Mama
Jody from Mommy Moment
Candace at Mamanista!

For a chance to win a BOTH of these wonderful sort and match sets, visit:
Jody from Mommy Moment,
the host of the February Guidecraft Educators giveaway!

Or... if you just can't wait or really want to get your hands on this wonderful line of products, they can be purchased online at either or on Guidecraft's Website!

Animal Train Sort and Match - or Guidecraft Website
Flower Patch Garden Match - or 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!