The younger one celebrated her third birthday a few days ago. I was trying to find a good birthday present for her. She likes tinkering and building, but she already has a lot of toolkits and Lego. She likes to sit down and camouflage herself with soft toys, looking just like one in the pile, as her mischievous smile betrays her. Obviously, she has too many of those. Over the last year, she has been assimilating a large collection of books too. There is a book store close to the school my girls go to. So whenever I need to kill time before picking them up from school, I end up buying books for both the the girls.
So I was browsing through amazon, wondering what to get the younger one for her birthday, when I came across this peg board toy. It seemed like the perfect gift for her.
The toy contains one square peg board, approximately 8 inches long and wide. It is about half an inch thick and made of foam. It has a grid of 25 peg holes and comes with 30 pegs. The pegs are of 6 different colors, with 5 pegs of each color. The set includes a nifty cloth bag. The pegs fit into the peg board and into each other.
The pegs are large, light, colorful and made of plastic. They are easy for a 3 year old to grip and handle.
A foam board has some flexibility and is a good material for the little ones struggling to fit the pegs in.
There are no rules for play but you can make up tons of games. My little one is averse to being taught in a conventional way, so I found this toy very useful for teaching her counting. I would tell her to stack 4 pegs, or 6 pegs, or whatever, in a hole and make towers. They looked like this. She was having so much fun making multicolored towers, she hardly noticed she was practicing counting.
Then we did adding. I asked her to place two red pegs in one column, and two blue pegs in another, and then asked her to count them all together, and showed her that 2+2 = 4. Similarly we did, 2+3 and 3+3.
Then we were done with numbers, so I came up with some fun color related ideas. I stacked a yellow peg on a red peg and asked my daughter what color mixing red and yellow would yield. She said orange, so we put the orange peg on top. Similarly we tried yellow + blue and blue + red.
All this time my older one (5 years old) was busy drawing. But then she wanted to join in the fun too. She decided to use the pegs to make some letters and asked her little sister if she could read them. The younger one was so fascinated with identifying letters made from the pegs, that she forgot how much she hates being asked to identify letters.
But finally the little one had enough interference and wanted to explore and enjoy her birthday gift on her own. She made lots of towers. She squealed in delight, when she made one so tall that it wobbled and came toppling down. At some point she abandoned the peg board and made a snake on the floor with the pegs.
But the next day I saw her trying to count pegs, as she made short and tall towers, on the board. She loves the toy and plays with it twice everyday for about 30 minutes each time.
What Could Be Better?
It would have been nice to have a more pegs of each color to do more counting.
A zipped bag would have been better, than the drawstring bag they provide. Since the board is square, the strings cant be drawn too close without bending the foam board. So the pegs tend to fall out unless the bag is kept upright.
The first picture on the amazon page, prompted me to believe, that the peg heads would have different shapes, and I hoped to use the toy to teach my daughter about shapes too. But the set I got, only had circular peg heads. I think this is misleading. I also did not get the string shown in the third picture. But I used a simple pajama nada to string the pegs like beads. My daughter was amused, but did not want to try stringing pegs herself. She did enjoy wearing the necklace of pegs, I made for her, for sometime though.
The one thing, that initially, bothered me about the toy was, that my daughter would leave the pegs lying around, and they would roll everywhere. Some would roll under the furniture and be forgotten. I realized, this would soon make this toy quite useless.
So I went all round the house hunting down each and every peg. Then I taught my 3 year old to put away the pegs, soon after playing. We would count the pegs together, till we had all 30. Only once all the pegs and the board were safely put away in the bag, would I let her move on to whatever she wanted to do next. Initially, she was very angry about this, but after 4 times of being firm about it, I found her wanting to do this herself, and not just with the peg board toy, but with her Lego and other toys as well.
Your ideas, your rules, and the pegs are great tools!