B. Zany Zoo Wooden Activity Cube Review, The B. Zany Zoo is a wooden cube with a variety of different activities attached to it. It measures 37.3 x 36.1 x 49.3 cm and sits securely on the floor. The construction is solid, with rounded corners, so that users will not be hurt if they accidentally bump against them. It is robust and heavy enough to provide some support to insecure walkers. Supervision is advisable, however, to ensure that it does not tip over, or trap fingers.
This activity center can be used from a seated or lying position on the floor, which is a great advantage for children who have extra mobility requirements. It can be positioned with particular activities in reach, and turned so that different activities face the child.
The bright, colorful design is very enticing. There is enough variety to keep users interested in looking at the different animals through the holes cut in the sides of the box. Hand movements are encouraged by the ability to move large, wooden beads along the loops on the top of the box.
Animal figures also move around the top surface of the box. There are also zig-zag race-tracks and movable parts on the four sides. The design is very clever: the pieces are movable but they do not come off, and so you don’t have to worry about choking hazards or losing pieces from the toy. There is plenty of opportunity for different kinds of touching, gripping and twisting.
The best feature of this product is its educational value for a wide range of learners, including those with special needs. It stimulates a desire to explore many different parts of the toy. There are little doors to open, animals to push, turn or twist, and flaps to spin around. Some of these operations are very simple, but others require more dexterity. Moving the animals through arches and around the curves on the top, for example, takes both hands and careful attention. Some children may need help with balance, but they will feel a sense of achievement in moving the pieces around.
Carers will find plenty of opportunity for story-telling and conversations. The little doors are painted in the same colors as the animals hidden behind them, for example. When you open the door, you see the name of the animal printed on the inside. This creates a natural connection between letters and pictures. It is very useful as awareness building, in preparation for literacy work. Adults can direct the child towards different colors, animals, or games and talk about the features of each.
This toy is a little more expensive than some of the plastic activity centers that are available on the market. The cost is justified, however, because of the quality of its construction, and the very large range of activities it contains. It can even be used by two or more children at a time, because each surface has its own, separate play activity. Each child will have his or her favorite games, and these will change as the child develops more skills. It is an excellent toy for children with special needs because of its potential for skills development.