Saturday, May 5, 2012

Guidecraft Educators Review and Giveaway Link: Sorting Food Trays

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 six puzzles from the sorting food tray  line -  the Breakfast Tray - the Lunch Tray, the Dinner Tray, the Mexican Tray, the Italian Tray and the Japanese Tray! This product made a wonderful addition to our classroom's kitchen area!

In reviewing this month's items, I took many of our other wooden puzzles and put them away, leaving just a few in the table toy area of the classroom.  I immediately knew these HAD to be added to the kitchen area, as they provided children to exposure to many different types of food that were not previously represented, as our classroom "food" supply seems to be lacking.  Add to that, they're even multicultural and our room DEFINITELY lacks any sort of multicultural food, so that was an added plus!  I can't wait to see if more multicultural trays make an appearance in the future, because I would love to add to this particular collection!

Thoughts on the Food Sorting Trays

They children love doing puzzles, but are too easily frustrated by the basic 12 piece rectangular wooden puzzles that we have in our room.  These food sorting trays are puzzle-like and very basic (and the different shaped pieces made them perfectly ideal for my UPK kids) - putting them back together is easy enough, yet just challenging enough to really make children really do some thinking!  The unique pieces are also great to encourage the use of fine motor skills for manipulation and problem-solving skills (turning the pieces, trying in different places, etc.).

The children were quick to start exploring and loved taking turns "cooking" for me!  I was working with several children who are in desperate need of pronunciation skills and using vocabulary descriptively.  That being said, before they could move on the next puzzle, they needed to tell me what they cooked for me.  They LOVED this activity and were discussing the items on each tray with a friend as they were putting the trays back together.  The vocabulary usage was incredible.  The little guy in the Rams sweatshirt was really into the activity and is a child who is receiving speech therapy, so the activity was perfect for him - as using descriptive words like "egg" instead of "this" to name objects is one of the goals we've been working on with him!

We also used these puzzles to "sort" and categorize items on the trays.  We talked about "utensils" and "fruits" and "grains" and "vegetables."  The sorting trays provide much room for discussion - "What kids of vegetables are in that salad?" - "What kind of juice might that be?"  "What are the utensils you need to eat that meal?"  "What kids of foods do you like to eat for breakfast?  Lunch?  Dinner?"  "Have you ever had Mexican food?  Sushi?  Italian?"  "What kinds of foods are Italian?"  The children were all very eager to participate in these types of discussions and had a great deal of knowledge to build upon!

These sorting trays have been a welcome addition to my classroom and I have to say, I think it's probably been one of the most popular Guidecraft products I've introduced to the children!  Will definitely need to invest in more of these if more are added to the line!
What do other 'Guidecraft Educators' have to say about theses puzzle manipulatives?
Maureen at Simply Stacie
Andrea at MommyPR
Deborah at Teach Preschool
Carrie from Huppie Mama
Jody from Mommy Moment
Candace at Mamanista!
Lisa from Planet Weidknecht
Vanessa from Pre-K Pages
The Giveaway

Guidecraft is generously offering ONE of each of the six Sorting Food Trays to one of the readers of the Guidecraft Educators group!!! To enter, head on over and check out Deborah's post at Teach Preschool before midnight on May 12th and .

Want it NOW?
If you can’t wait to win, all three products are available for purchase at and also through the Guidecraft website:

Sorting Food Tray - Breakfast: or
Sorting Food Tray - Lunch: or
Sorting Food Tray - Dinner: or
Sorting food Tray - Mexican: or
Sorting Food Tray - Japanese: or
Sorting Food Tray - Italian: or

 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!