We enjoy lots of bookish activities and play-based learning so when TickiT asked me to review their amazing new product Rainbow Wooden Community People, there was great excitement in our house! It is such a wonderfully open-ended resource which can be used in so many different ways! Our set includes 15 people threaded bodies, 45 rainbow coloured slide on cuffs and 15 screw on ‘feet’ and a cotton storage bag. The pieces are made from solid beechwood and the threaded figures represent 5 different skin tones.
I always enjoy presenting my girls with open-ended toys without providing any guidance, to see how their play unfolds. When they began playing with the Rainbow Community People, they immediately unscrewed lots of pieces and began mixing up the colours!
This simple activity of screwing and unscrewing the rainbow pieces is brilliant for manual dexterity and developing fine motor skills, both so important for young children to develop. Fine motor skills help children perform important tasks including writing, feeding themselves and dressing independently.
The solid beechwood pieces are so smooth and screw easily onto the different ‘bodies’. My girls really enjoy working with them. This set is also compatible with the Rainbow Wooden Nuts and Bolts, which they also used to add different shapes to their rainbow people!
As they played and experimented with different colour combinations, they began to create 2 and 3 colour patterns for their people. My 6 year old also counted the number of rainbow pieces in different people and ordered them from smallest to largest and vice versa. She also noticed the different skin tones, which led to discussions about similarities and differences, families and ethnicities.
This initial exploration and child-led play provided lots of learning opportunities including:
- Maths- exploring shapes, colours, patterns, counting, ordering by size/colour etc
- Developing mathematical language
- Fine motor skills development
- Hand-eye coordination
- Descriptive language skills
- Encouraging chat around the themes of family, inclusion and diversity
Since their initial play, we have used the Rainbow Community People for small world set ups and have incorporated them into building activities using our Rainbow Architect sets. Both girls have created different families inspired by books we are reading and my eldest loves inventing her own families with lots of different fun characters for her small world play! The set lends itself well to creating a diverse community of different colours, shapes, sizes and heights.
We have also incorporated the figures into sensory play and games. For example, hiding rainbow cuffs in coloured rice or Playfoam Pluffle and they have to find pieces using their fine motor tools and build people of different sizes and colours.
To challenge my older daughter, I have used the set for problem-solving activities. For example, to work on times table facts, I challenged her to to create a certain number of people using specific numbers of pieces, ‘If you had four characters, with three body pieces each, how many pieces altogether?’ Or ‘If you had 24 rainbow cuffs, how many people could you make?’ She enjoyed exploring the different combinations she could make, depending on the height of the different characters and how many body pieces they could have.
And that is the joy of open-ended toys! Both my 6 and 9 year old can play with them together in lots of fun ways, but they can also play with them in very different ways suited to their ages and ability levels.
The Rainbow Wooden Community People are not recommended for children under 3 due to smaller parts, but there is certainly no upper age limit as my girls have proven😀.
Thank you TickiT Education for creating yet another wonderful open-ended product!
Witten by Sheila O’Reilly, mum to two girls and a Primary School Teacher.