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Teach + Play Tiles Review by Melissa Cummings

Maple Landmark Woodcraft
1297 Exchange Street
Middlebury, VT 05753

Products that can be used for both playtime and school time are real winners in our home. As a preschooler, my son loves to learn and loves to play. The creative and durable Teach + Play Tiles have made a real impact in our preschooling, as they easily adapt to different learning situations. They are great for learning in the home, in the schoolroom, or on the go. From recognition to storytelling to matching and grouping, these products are adaptable for many activities and can really grow with a child as he develops. Each collection of Teach + Play Tiles comes with an instruction sheet with four tips and ideas for using the tiles with your child. These are helpful suggestions, and you and your child will likely be able to come up with additional games and methods for utilizing them.

While these products are particularly excellent for one-on-one learning situations, they could be easily used in small group settings as well. Each collection would be appropriate for children aged two and older; although the Numbers & Fractions collection is suggested for ages three and older, my two-year-old loves to count the items pictured on the Numbers side, and we simply don't utilize the Fractions side with him at this point. The available collections include Buildings & Vehicles, Shapes & Colors, Animals & Vegetables, and Numbers & Fractions. Each set is available for $12.50, which is a great price for a well-made product that will be used and loved in so many settings.

Each collection of Teach + Play Tiles contains 12 wooden tiles, 2 1/4" wide by 3 1/2" tall and very thin. Easily held in your hand, they are the perfect size and thickness to make excellent, durable, creative flashcards. Ours have even been stepped on and have yet to show the wear for it. I am so pleased that these have promise for longevity. The lacquer used for the finish is smooth, and there are no rough edges or splintering. However, the finish does seem to scratch somewhat easily.

The tiles are printed on both sides, with 12 images on one side and 12 related images on the reverse. The instruction sheet included with each set of tiles includes an image of all 24 incorporated designs, providing a practical little reference guide. The designs are playful, accurate, clever, and easy for children to identify. The texts and numbers labeling the images are clear and easy to read. Young children may have trouble identifying some of the colors in the Colors collection as they are slightly skewed from typical bright colors; for example, the purple is a bit magenta, the red is a bit orange, and the white is a bit tan. Otherwise, the tiles are very straightforward, accurate, and detailed.

A handy muslin storage bag is included with each set of tiles. It is wonderful for storage and toting, especially if you tie knots in the end of the drawstrings so that they won't pull out. The bags do ravel easily, but the threads can simply be cut away. Otherwise, they seem fairly resilient. Since I have all four collections of Teach + Play Tiles, I found it helpful to label each bag, as they look identical.

These are products that not only have my complete attention and devotion but that of my child as well. In our homeschool setting, that's a winning combination.

Product review by Melissa Cummings, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, February 2011