Preschool Years at Home

Laughing, Loving, and Learning Together

You Win a Few, You Lose a Few

on February 9, 2012

With both cubs still under the weather, I quickly realized that today was a day for hugs, snuggles, rest, and whatever fun could distract the little people from their sore throats and aching ears. So while Little Bear enjoyed an episode of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, I pulled a couple of new resources out of the office.

First was the Learning Palette, a hands-on, self-correcting learning tool manufactured by Learning Wrap-Ups. I’d previously used Learning Wrap-Ups in the classroom and had high hopes for this product as well. Little Bear had seen it a couple of months ago and been drawn to the bright colors and easily-manipulated discs.

When I actually took it out of the package today, though, I discovered that it was not quite as intuitive or easy to use as its sister product, Learning Wrap-Ups. The Learning Palette system is made up of a base unit, 12 colored discs, and add-on sets of activity cards. For today’s practice, I opened a set of Beginning Consonant activity cards and put the first card on the unit. Little Bear’s task was to use match pictures with their initial sounds, a skill she’s largely mastered. She found the format of the activity on the Learning Palette extremely confusing, though, and abandoned the task almost immediately. I then sat down with her to help her work through the process, and we managed to answer five of the twelve questions before she again dismissed the activity. It’s worth noting here that she’s not a child who is quick to give up or abandon tasks. What’s more, she was not frustrated by the learning objective, but rather by the method.

The Beginning Consonant activity cards were divided into four quadrants, with the same three letters and three pictures beginning with those cards appearing in each quadrant. She had no problem recognizing that fork began with /f/ or butterfly with /b/. The challenge for her came in understanding that she had to match fork with the f in the same quadrant in order for the Learning Palette to identify her answer as “correct.” It also frustrated her that the answer discs didn’t necessarily stay where she put them. It was easy for her to bump them out of position or for Baby Bear to grab them (and they were small enough to be a choking hazard). I do think that the product could be improved with a magnetic base and magnetic answer discs.

In all fairness, the Learning Palette is designed for slightly older children. Little Bear is only 3 1/2, so she may get more use out of it in the future. We have Rhyming Words activity cards and Kindergarten Math Readiness cards as well, so we’ll probably try the product again at some point down the road.  For now, though, it’s going back on the shelf.

Pros:

  • Bright, colorful, and engaging
  • Hands-on
  • Self-correcting
  • Battery-free
  • Versatile (Activity cards range from PreK-6th grade level, and some of the higher level math activities look good.)

Cons

  • Somewhat confusing for younger children
  • Center knob that holds cards in place obscures a portion of the card (One picture on this morning’s activity card was unrecognizable with center knob in place.
  • Answer discs do not lock into place
  • At $10 per set, activity cards get pricey

All in all, I’d give this product a 3/5 rating. It has its uses, but it’s certainly not a must-have.

Next, we turned our attention to Can You Find It?, a hunt-and-find activity book produced by the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Little Bear enjoys I Spy and Can You See What I See? books, so even though this particular title was geared toward elementary school students, I hoped it would be a hit. And it was. She enjoyed this book as much as its photo collage counterparts, and I loved the fact that she was scrutinizing famous works of art.

The first  two-page spread began with a reproduction of Joseph Hidley’s View of Postenkill, New York. In this painting, she was asked to find a bridge, a man in a top hat, 9 horse-drawn vehicles, a carriage with a horse, a horse without a carriage, a water pump, a load of hay, and a barn with open doors. In her quest to find the hidden objects, she also caught a glimpse of life in a by-gone era.

Given Little Bear’s age, this wasn’t a book that we sat down and read from cover to cover. She does, after all, have the attention span of a preschooler, and it took us a good five minutes to find all the objects in the first painting alone. But this is a book to be savored in small portions, not rushed through. It lends itself well to being worked through at a preschooler’s pace.

All in all, a 4.5/5 star product. It may not be an essential product, but it’s a great tool — especially if you’re able to pick up a second-hand copy for a fraction of the $15.95 retail price.


2 Responses to “You Win a Few, You Lose a Few”

  1. Many thanks for the information, and your blog honestly looks superb. Just what word press theme are you utilizing?

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