Every now and then, an elegant toy emerges and manages to combine inventive design with streamlined utility. The market is huge and eclectic, so stumbling upon such a toy is an opportunity that you shouldn’t pass.
18 to 36 months
12 removable quills + 2 base parts
Primarily entertainment and educational purposes. It encourages tactile and visual development and involves your toddler’s cognitive abilities, by promoting color-coding and counting.
Truth be told, quality learning toys for toddlers are dime-a-dozen these days, so Spike the Fine Motor Hedgehog arrives like a welcoming breath of fresh air. It is a beautifully designed and simple toy with open-ended features. In this case, the adjective ‘simple’ is meant in the best way possible. The wholesome hedgehog design is an inventive solution for a toy that is meant to teach your toddler the basics of counting and color-coding, and here’s what it is all about.
Learning Resources is a brand with a stamp of quality and reputation. They have 30 years of experience under their belt when it comes to crafting quality toys that are aimed at child development. With toys such as Learning Resources’ Spike the Hedgehog, you can bet your child will be acquiring the necessary wisdom to tackle future challenges.
Without a doubt, the colorful Spike might be considered their limelight toy due to its charming design, child-proof craftsmanship and a reasonable price. Of course, the full name of the product, as it is often listed, gives away its primary function. Learning Resources Spike the Fine Motor Hedgehog is designed to prioritize the development of motor skills in your child.
As it so happens with many such toys, it also has bonus functions. Primarily, due to its colorful pegs, your child can learn color recognition, counting, and sorting of items into groups – there are at least three pegs of the same color in the set.
Furthermore, the toy is designed with a space-economic mindset. Once the child is done playing, you can easily remove the upper shell and store the quills inside before you store it on the shelf or in a box with other toys.
As it stands, the toy is about six inches in diameter and the quills are big enough and made from sturdy plastic, so safety will never be an issue with Spike the Hedgehog.
In search of an elegant way to teach children fine motor skills, counting and color-recognition, Learning Resources have decided to shape their toy like a hedgehog. This is truly an ingenious way to craft a toy that seamlessly intertwines functionality with the appeal. Visually, it is just what the doctor ordered – a friendly-looking hedgehog that looks like it has been transported straight out of an animated and enchanted forest onto your living room floor.
As it has been mentioned, the toy comes in two major parts that make up the hedgehog’s base and shell, plus 12 quills with oval-shaped tops. They come in 4 colors, which means that there are 3 of each that share the identical look. They are typically stored under the shell, which has 12 holes that are perfectly shaped to hold the quills. When the child (or an adult, nobody will judge) places the quills into their places and fills every hole, the toy will truly appear like a stylized hedgehog.
The coloring is vibrant and child-appropriate, and every aspect of the toy is as cute as they come. Every quill has two mild indentations on the sides, near the top, so your toddler’s small hands can easily grasp the parts and do with them as they will.
Now, the way your child sticks the quills into the shell will show you how developed their pattern-recognition and motor skills have become. At first, they might simply feel achievement just by sticking every quill into each hole.
However, one of the big advantages of this toy is its open-mindedness when it comes to quill-arrangement. In other words, it’s not ‘put a cube into a square and a ball into a circle’ sort of thing. All of the quills are shaped the same and can appropriately fit into every hole – no difference based on corresponding (or mismatching) colors.
There are three quills of each color-kind – red, orange, green and purple. If you want to help your child get started, you can turn to the accompanying toy guide. It includes instructions for seven games your child might find captivating. However, don’t let these instructions limit you if you plan to play along with your child. Spike the Hedgehog’s open-ended framework can serve as a platform for any type of game you can devise. This also means that you can encourage your child to devise their own games with this toys, without any set rules.
We have already mentioned in the quick rundown of the basics that the toy is overall safe. The parts are too big for a small child to swallow – thought this might represent danger later on when the child grows up a bit. The design does not allow for jagged edges which can cut or otherwise hurt the child. Due to these features, you can rest assured that the toy doesn’t pose any sort of risk to your toddler.
That being said, a certain level of adult supervision with a small child is required. Additionally a particularly young toddler boy or girl – let’s say 12-18 months old – will possibly have difficulty when it comes to opening and closing Spike the Hedgehog. Your assistance may be required in order to avoid some mild sprains. Thankfully, that is pretty much it when it comes to safety considerations. That being said, this toy is good for 1-year-old girls and boys.
Gentle oval shapes and easy to grasp, toddler-friendly concept render this toy convenient. In other words, it is just as fun as it is educational.
In most cases, stellar toys that are meant to promote fine motor movement development in small children also contribute to eye coordination, muscle development and, crucially, it reinforces the connections between brain and hands.
The visually stimulating and colorful appearance of the toy strengthens color recognition, but due to its open-ended modularity when it comes to the assortment of quills, it also aids in the development of sorting skills.
Even if your child becomes bored with Spike the Hedgehog, the assembled toy can stand on one of the easy-to-reach shelves as a form of jolly ornamentation. It will liven up the child’s room with its vibrant colors and cheerful appearance; plus, it will always be within your child’s reach in the case they want to play with it again.
Finally, as it has already been implied, even if there is not enough room for the hedgehog to just be kept lying around, it is extremely easy to disassemble and store. Once the quills are inside the shell, it can practically fit into any space.
When you consider what Learning Resources set out to accomplish with Spike the Fine Motor Hedgehog, you’ll feel hard-pressed to single out any noteworthy disadvantages of such a toy. One of the possible downsides comes in the form of its utility-specific nature.
Your child will learn how to play with it and try out all the possible combinations before you know it. In other words, the usability of this toy is rather short; however, this can also be said about any toy aimed at toddlers and pre-school children that go through a rapid and drastic physical and mental development.
Furthermore, this is a type of toy that does not produce any sounds or lights. When you come down to it, it is purely mechanical and modular, which bodes well if you want to teach your child how to get involved with a toy more and make the most use out of it.
However, some children that are used to more ‘animated’ toys that do a lot of razzle-dazzle for them can find Spike the Hedgehog a bit boring after a time. This is why it would be best if you introduced toys such as this before battery-fueled toys or, even worse, digital entertainment turns your children into passive observers of entertainment rather than participants.
Toddlers adore colorful toys and stimulating shapes, but the bottom line is that they are all about tactility during this period of development. Their hands will constantly reach out with curiosity, and they’ll want to get their eager little paws on everything. As such, Spike the Hedgehog is a perfect toy that fulfills all the requirements when it comes to safety, fun and teaching potential. As an investment, it is practically a no-brainer.