For Christmas, we bought T Pin-A-Shape, made by Bigjigs toys. This is something I used regularly as a Reception class teacher and it has been on my mental ‘to buy’ list for T for a long time. I just needed to wait until she was old enough to be able to play safely with the pins!
Pin-A-Shape is a great developmental toy for 3-7’s, since it is really versatile and helps to develop a range of skills.
Reinforcing shape names, and learning new ones.
There are a variety of shapes included, some of which the children may already know, such as circle, triangle or square. However there are also other shapes including the oblong, trapezium, and crescent. One thing I really like is that for some of these shapes, there is more than one example (e.g. there are at least three different sized rectangles). This helps children to gain a fuller understanding of what the shape names mean.
Reinforce colour names
As with everything, children take different amounts of time to learn colour names. If your child is unsure of colour names, talking about them while playing with Pin-A-Shape is a simple way to reinforce them. Children could also sort shapes by colour.
Develop creativity and imagination
Children can arrange the shapes to make a picture. As they grow older, these will become more accurate and detailed. It’s a really nice way for them to create pictures before they may have the fine motor control to draw what is in their imagination. We had a go at this recently, and I was pleasantly surprised by how much T’s car actually looked like a car!
Fine motor control
Picking up the pins, pushing them in to the cork mat and using the hammer will help strengthen childrens pincer grip and develop their fine motor control – the small movements using the hand muscles. Being able to control these muscles well is essential to their development as it enables them to learn to control a pencil later on.
A really fun way to clear up afterwards! Rather than spending ages collecting up all the pins by hand, whip out a magnet and let the pins come to you! This is a fun, practical way for children to investigate magnetism, and helps avoid any pins being left behind to be trodden on – ouch!
There are several versions of this toy available from different companies. Beware that for some, the board can be considerably tougher making it much more difficult to push the pins in. For this reason, I would really recommend this one* from Bigjigs.
*Affiliate link. All this means is that if you purchase Pin-A-Shape through my link, I will get a few pennies!