Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Toy Review: Arcobaleno by Learning Materials Workshop

We've been so happy to have been asked to do our first toy review! I was especially excited that it was Learning Materials Workshop who asked. I discovered their products in December when a blog I follow hosted one of their giveaways and I immediately swooned over their products. It was exciting to be allowed to choose any toy I thought would work well for Ty, and that there were no strings attached other than writing a review here on my blog. No one told me what to say or include in my review post at all! I figured that most toy reviews I read are a bit "controlled" in content. Interacting with this company has been nothing but pleasant.
After watching the videos they have on their site for each toy (so helpful to see each in action!) and some tough decision making, the toy I chose for Tyler was Arcobaleno. He needs more work with his visual-spatial development and I was intrigued by the creative possibilities of this toy! I was impressed that it had won a Dr. Toy Best Classic Toy Award as well as a Parent's Choice Award, though many of the toys they offer have won awards! Learning Materials Workshop's description of this toy states:

"Arcobaleno ("rainbow" in Italian) is a puzzle and a construction set rolled into one. Children nest the asymmetrical arches into a round tray; solve structural problems as they build an inverted cone or a double tunnel; and tap their imaginations to create bridges, domes, towers, spiral houses, tigers with red tails, and fascinating forms."

While there are many suggestions for use, I purposely didn't read them until writing this review. I wanted our own creativity to lead us where it would for a while!

From the moment we opened Arcobaleno I could tell that this is a toy that will last for generations. It's made of quality wood, the pieces fit perfectly, and even after some of the pieces were thrown in toddler excitement, dropped and all of the other things an overtired, hyper two year old can do to a toy, it hasn't dented or scratched the paint one bit.

The first thing we did was to take the pieces out and form circles, noticing big, medium and small. We of course noted the colors as well.

We then decided that the circles would be cute little homes for some of our animal figurines. We put one in each, which also worked on 1:1 correspondence.

Making the circles on his own without the wooden pie-like container was tricky. Arcobaleno is interesting enough that Ty has been driven to practice and figure it all out, encouraging him to strengthen skills he'd otherwise rather not bother with as they don't come easily.

Look at that! Our circles also made great holders for sorting our color chips!

Using Arcobaleno to make an array of colorful arches has probably been Tyler's favorite activity. I'm sure we'll be rolling cars through and using them as tunnels soon.

Okay, so I've had some fun myself too! Tyler is a bit young to make designs like these, but the beauty of this toy is that as he grows, he will be able to do more and more with it. Arcobaleno isn't going to be mastered in a month or two and cast aside for sure.

The most obvious use for Arcobaleno is as a puzzle! Ty needs help to complete this right now which I figured, but it's unique and attractive enough to make him want to try. Though this toy is recommended for ages 3 -8, I know some clever, puzzle-loving toddlers who could likely figure this one out! 

After watching me make a rainbow with the arches, Tyler had to try too. How wonderful for a little one to be able to create a rainbow just by judging sizes!

In the website video, the arches are laid on their sides and stacked. Tyler struggled with this. The focus, fine motor control and eye-hand coordination necessary for this task is beyond him now, but again, something for him to grow into later!

We also discovered that by lining-up the larger arches  we could roll a small ball through one side and out the other! I can just imagine a little game of indoor croquet with these someday! Tyler also discovered that if the ball knocks down one of the first arches that the rest fell like dominoes. Quite a delight for him and he wanted "more dominoes!" after that, so we started doing it on purpose.

With Tyler's math interest at full speed, I've started to show him fractions in real-life situations, such as taking a whole slice of bread and cutting it in half at lunch time. The smallest piece of this toy has worked perfectly for showing half and whole at any point in the day. He's been intrigued!

All in all (in case you couldn't tell) we have really enjoyed this toy so far. I'm sure that we'll continue to find even more creative uses for it as we go along as well as start using some of the suggestions provided by Learning Materials Workshop. I appreciate that are so many things for Tyler to learn with this toy. The growth potential is large! Though it's a bit of a pricey buy, I do think that it would be worth it in the long run. I truly feel like it's a toy that is classic and built well enough to pass down through the generations!

A big thank you to Learning Materials Workshop for sharing such a fabulous toy with our family!


  1. huh. that really is a cool toy!!! links? where are the videos? Very interested and I love that it will last for a long while. And, I can donate it to his montessori school when I am done.

  2. Hi! It really is neat! When looking at products individually on the Learning Materials Workship site, there are videos near the end of the description. The links should be the words in green within my post, but if that isn't showing for you, here's the link to the toy:

  3. Wow! This is a really exciting toy! Just took a look at some more of their products and love them! Will save up and maybe add one every 6 months or so to our small, but growing, collection. Little Mister loves anything involving small parts.

  4. LOVE this toy! I will look it up! Looks versatile!

  5. Hi..very nice toy and colorful to...includes refinement and developments of all senses and innovative