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4D Cityscape Time Puzzle – The Country of USA Review by Charlotte Gochnauer

4D Citsyscape
48 Limestone Street
Markham, ON L6B 0P6 Canada

Puzzles are such a fun exercise for your brain. And when you choose to do a map-puzzle you are learning all about geography too. This fun USA puzzle from 4D Cityscape is an enjoyable way to enforce any United States physical geography course. And what is a 4D puzzle? Well it means just that, 3 layers of puzzle to assemble together with your children.

Layer one is the base of this puzzle, and is an 800 piece, interlocking puzzle-map of the historical expansion of the USA. It shows the US in 1873, the Louisiana Purchase, Oregon Country, the western area acquired from Mexico, the Texan annexation, and more. Each section is easily identified by color.

Layer two fits directly onto layer one and is 65 pieces of the statehood map. Each state is clearly visible, with blown up circles for Delaware, Rhode Island and the Washington D.C. area. This layer is easy to differentiate from level one; the puzzle pieces all show the topography of the states and are thicker in height. There are even layered pieces that show the mountain layers and contour of the Rocky Mountains.

Layer three is where things truly become dimensional. Your child, using the accompanying Time Line Diagram, will begin placing historical buildings and monuments onto the second layer. These conveniently fit into designated pockets in the second layer and are little molds of structures and other monuments. Beginning with the Alamo and the Liberty Bell, your child will find Independence Hall, the Washington Monument, the Golden Gate Bridge, and the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center. There are 93 different objects to place on the puzzle, all of which have the corresponding number from the timeline printed on the bottom.

The puzzle comes with a very helpful poster which gives instructions for each layer of the puzzle. It is suggested that in each layer your student will assemble the puzzle in time order; for example in layer two they would put each state into the puzzle in order of statehood. There is a section on the poster that shows each state in order so there is no guessing. There is also a smaller sheet that shows how the assembled puzzle looks when completed.

I gave this fun puzzle to my children, ages 16, 13, 12, and 7, to assemble. It was easy enough that the 7 year-old had a fun time finding the correct pieces to fit in. When we put the states layer on I was holding the poster and would ask them to guess as to which state they thought came next. It was really neat to see the order of the states and how state expansion moved westward. The third layer was the most fun but did prove to be the most challenging. The older children would find the building and then the younger ones would put it on the correct spot; some of the structures looked very similar and at time the numbers identifying them on the bottom were hard to read. It was very satisfying when we got it all put together! We could both take it apart and do it all over again, or we could make it a more permanent reference puzzle by using double stick tape to hold the layers together.

This was a very fun way to teach US geography to my children. Meant for ages 8 and over, it can be purchased on the website for $39.99. There are other fun 4D puzzles of world cities that 4D Cityscape has to offer; check out their informative website to see other fun puzzles.

Product review by Charlotte Gochnauer, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, 2013