In preparation for our son’s third birthday, my wife went on a wood puzzles buying rampage and ended up with a total of 10 Melissa & Doug Wooden Puzzles sets. It’s a good thing that she saved her money over the previous months for this, and even better that these sets range from just over $8 to about $16.
These wood puzzles sets include the Jumbo ABC Chunky Puzzle set, the Dinosaur Chunky Puzzle set, the Deluxe Wooden Safari Chunky Puzzle set, the Insects Wooden Chunky Puzzle set, the Tools Wooden Chunky Puzzle set, the Large Wooden Farm Puzzle set, the Large Shapes Jumbo Puzzle set, the Construction Wooden Chunky Puzzle set, and the Wooden Shapes Sorting Clock.
All of them are made with quality and durability, as the Melissa & Doug Company stand behind their quality assurance efforts. The Melissa & Doug Company, started in 1988 in the basement of Doug Bernstein’s home and currently headquartered in Wilton, Connecticut, is celebrated for their wooden puzzles and high end educational toys.
While ranging in recommended ages from 2 to 3 and up, the simpler 2 and up models are especially popular with our 20 month old girl who started playing with these sets almost immediately after our boy opened them during his third birthday. In fact she’s the sets’ main fan and especially loves the Dinosaur and Insects puzzles. She’s so cute when she holds or points one of the puzzle pieces and identifies them with cute and soft, “disaur” “bur fly” and “fower” and does this really cute and feminine, “roar” when she’s holding one of the dinosaurs!
Our boy likes them too, but with all of them, including the older 3 and up versions, once he opened them he just took the pieces and in seconds flat plopped them right into their appropriate places - it was no challenge for him at all. The clock set may have proved to be the most educationally beneficial for him as he asked what the shapes were and in no time began picking up the pieces and properly describing them as, “this is a pentagon, this is an octagon, this is a rectangle...” and so on. He ultimately has yet to learn the functions of the small and large needles on the clock, but that concept may be beyond the target audience of 3.
Still, our girl has really benefited from these wood puzzles by learning to identify insects, tools and tractors as well as the larger simple shapes and the farm animals, “duck,” “horse” - she’s so cute.
And overall they’ve proven to be a nice addition to the kids toys collection. One thing I’ll say is that while I enjoy the lower price, it comes at the cost of sending what used to be an American made toy to be produced almost exclusively in China, with 200 Melissa & Doug employees in the United States and 1,000 in China as of 2006.