Wooden games put through their paces

4th October 1996 at 01:00
Wood 'n Fun is committed to the design and manufacture of educational toys and games which aim to encourage practical and social aspects of play, teach important concepts and emphasise the development of both physical dexterity and cognitive skills.

Its latest product, Polymap, adds to the existing Stepets range and received a new product award at the Nursery and Creche show in June.

The Polymap puzzle is suitable for group and individual use, and comprises polygons and geographical features. There are 16 pieces in a variety of geometric shapes which fit into a sturdy base board, or which can be sorted by shape, size and colour and assembled without the board to form a variety of three-dimensional contours.

Used as a mathematical tool, it is possible to learn about factors, multiples and problem-solving.

When tested with groups of children at Wickbourne Infants School in West Sussex, it proved to be even more multifaceted than the manufacturer's claims. The five to seven-year-olds who put it through its paces, all found it extremely challenging and intriguing.

It kept even the five-year-olds well occupied for more than half-an-hour before they reluctantly returned to an end-of-term party.

The seven-year-olds were able to fix the pieces together by turning adjacent components the same way up but the real test was the task of fitting the pieces back into the box so that the lid fitted.

After 30 minutes of intensive brain cudgelling, one child realised the adjacent components needed to be turned in opposition. This was duly done, but the problem remained of tessellating the pieces.

Suffice to say that such was the complexity and challenge of the task, that the children wanted to continue tackling it even when the last bell had rung and it was time to go home.

Carol Raby

Polymap Pounds 37.45. Wood 'n Fun, Unit 14, Penistone Road Trading Estate, 413 Penistone Road, Sheffield S6 2FL.

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