Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

Bill & Betty Bricks

Bill & Betty Bricks

Fall 2012 Games
Ages: 5 & Up
Manufacturer: Smart Toys and Games
Price: $24.99

Bill & Betty Bricks are designed to help children build their spatial recognition (a learned skill that leads to ability to navigate different spaces, read maps, and think in abstract ways) and motor skills (common for toys that include picking up, stacking, and organizing). Testers appreciated how easy the package was to open: immediately, children had the bricks out and were stacking them and playing. The bricks are a nice size for small hands, and the variety of shapes made it fun for them to create buildings.

After building with the bricks for a bit, our testers pulled out the easy-to-follow guide that describes how to use the toy as a puzzle game. After selecting a page with one of the 60 challenges (ranging from "easy" to "wizard"), children were challenged to start with some bricks in place, then determine how to complete a square building using the remaining bricks. This added challenge was fun for them as they solved the problems and moved through the puzzles.

Testers like that this is an activity children can quickly succeed at (solving a puzzle in a minute or two), then use to design their own play. When they've pulled it out, children often did one to four puzzles, before switching to open-ended building play. It is a small set, so clean up is easy.

Even young children just under the recommended age for Bill & Betty Bricks enjoyed playing with them. Children will want to play with this toy often, and parents will be happy to have a tool for engaging children in problem solving.

Barbara Chamberlin   ©2012 Parents' Choice
Barbara Chamberlin researches and develops educational software and media at New Mexico State University's Learning Games Lab. She and her husband have two boys.

Share This