As a parent who also is a therapist and a student of child development, I am careful about the choices I make regarding the toys my son has in his toy box. Since he was born, I've tried to avoid some of the toys that seem popular, but lack imagination regarding play. I realize that at some point he will begin to request specific, branded toys, but until then, I am able to fill his world with educational opportunities. When looking for a new toy to buy for him for his birthday, I look for something that will utilize his creativity, involve physical activity, and/or use imagination.
Imaginative play is an educational opportunity in disguise!
Recently I discovered an online toy retailer that sells the type of toys I like to buy for my son. When imaginetoys.com was seeking reviewers for their products, I jumped at the opportunity! They sent me the Design & Drill toy for my son to play with and for me to review. To say my son enjoyed this toy would be putting it very mildly. This is a boy who likes to turn chairs upside down and pretend to fix them with his "tools."
The Design & Drill is made by Educational Insights and is recommended for ages three and up or grades Pre-K+. My son is about seven weeks shy of his fourth birthday and was able to play with this toy as recommended. The Design & Drill contains a battery operated reversible drill, three drill bits, a wrench, a plastic screwdriver handle, a plastic activity board, 120 plastic bolts in a zipper bag, 20 activity cards, and a guide booklet all stored inside a recloseable box, which makes storage easy for all those parts. The plastic, battery powered drill uses three AA batteries, which are not included. The batteries are easy to install with the use of Phillips head screwdriver, although I had to really push the battery door shut before replacing the screw. The three drill bits are easy to push into the drill and remove, even by my three year old. The plastic screwdriver handle can also hold the same drill bits, so that two children (or parent and child, in our case) can play at the same time. The colorful plastic bolts can be screwed into the white plastic activity board using the drill, the screwdriver, the wrench or even by hand. The reversible drill makes removing the bolts very easy and helps with a fast clean-up. My son was able to drill in the bolts and remove them using each tool, which he seemed to really enjoy. The drill has three power positions: forward, off and reverse. My son picked up on how to use the drill after just one use. The three drill bits included all fit into the bolts, so it doesn't matter which one is used, the child will succeed.
The Design & Drill includes 20 activity cards that have bolt/color patterns on them for a child to match. The guide included suggests helping your child develop a strategy for matching the cards to the activity board. For the card we worked on, I asked my son to count how many of each color we needed for the bolts. I then counted out the colored bolts into separate piles to make it easy for him to complete the pattern. My son reversed the pattern, but still understood that he needed to make rows of colors to match the pattern. This activity was on par with other activities he likes to do with matching, as it is developmentally appropriate at his age to make connections or matches with concepts. The activity card pack also included blanks for a parent or child to make up their own patterns.
As my son matures, I anticipate that he will be able to complete more intricate patterns with the colored bolts and even create his own patterns. At this time, he enjoys using the drill and screwdriver to pretend to "fix" the activity board (which is not a board to him, but often becomes something else to him, such as a control panel!) He was able to do the more simple matching patterns too.
This is a great toy that utilizes several skills: matching, counting, hand-eye coordination, and imagination. My son loved playing with this toy. It would make a great gift for kids over age three. As a parent, I like that the toy can be stored all together in the original box with the bolts contained in their own recloseable bag. Clean up was easy too. Both my son and I highly recommend this toy! The Design & Drill toy is now available as a take-along tool kit, which makes travel to relative's houses or vacation a breeze!
Disclosure: Imagingetoys.com provided me with a complimentary toy for the purposes of this review. No monetary compensation was received. The opinions and experiences described here are honest. The photographs are property of this author.