I first saw the Twisterz Toys in Borders up with all the other cool toys I like to look at in bookstores – you know, all the awesome Melissa & Doug stuff that I could easily be addicted to, and the other non-electric and super fun toys for kids. Not too much later, there was an opportunity to review them, so I was like – score!
Twisterz are tubes with rings around them, basically, allowing kids to spin, mix, and match to their hearts’ content. There are 3 types: an alphabet matcher has a letter to the right and 5 rings of pictures that you can turn to match up to the correct starting letter (and comes with extra sets of rings, so you have 24 letters), a word builder with 6 rings of letters so you can spin and spell, and a story starter that has snippets of words that you spin to create sentences to begin a story with. “The nervous spy / saw the crowd, / and spilled everything. / Suddenly…”
One of the nice things about them is that they can grow with kids. Younger kids can sit down with an adult to play with them together, and once they’ve started to build their letter, spelling, and reading skills, they can use them on their own. The rings spin easily, but are separated with a wavy edge so that, once chosen, they don’t easily spin out of place while you go to the next ring. The wide tubes are great for small hands, and I’ll admit to giving them to Danny just to let him twist them around and work on his fine motor and language. Never mind the letters; it’s a bunch of pictures we can twist around (something he loves to do anyway) and talk about. “Yum, yum! Ice cream, Danny – do you see that ice cream cone?” (Yes… I can make pretty much anything a language activity at this point. It’s a disease; I just can’t stop talking!)
I can see these being a hit in our house in another year or so. (Well, with the kids… I think the Story Starter is one of those things that could be great for parties or road trips for adults!) The box says they’re for 3+, but you really have to know your kids’ attention span and abilities. Eric definitely isn’t “there” yet with them at 4, but he’s a physical boy and just starting to recognize his letters let alone know his letter sounds. The color schemes also seem a little older; the pictures on the alphabet matcher are actually photographic (which is great developmentally for kids, rather than trying to translate an illustration to a real object), but the colors are fairly pastel rather than the bright, primary colors that still attract my kids.
Overall, these are pretty cool! I’d probably peg them as a better fit around Kindergarten/first grade for my family, and am definitely looking forward to when Eric really enjoys playing with them! They’re quiet, battery free fun that would make them fabulous for car rides and restaurant waits as well as at home, and a good activity to do together.
Fair disclosure: I received a set of these for free for the purpose of this review.
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