Realistic Model Animals and People: A wooden alternative to Schleich, a realistic alternative to Ostheimer.
Schleich model animals are extremely popular in Montessori classrooms and Montessori homes. They are hand painted and are life-like, perhaps are the most realistic models we can find. They are durable although they are made from 'high quality plastic'. I've been asked a gazillion times for wooden (or sustainable rubber/plastic) alternatives. The wooden alternatives have been Ostheimer or Holztiger. Both of these of these brands are more Waldorf in design and the animals are abstract with less detail, not what many Montessori parents or teachers are looking for.
I've recently had a look at these TickiT animals and people. The images are photographic. They are sharp and clear. Although they are not exactly shaped like the animals, for example the images are flat, the cow doesn't have four wooden legs, they may be a good alternative. The images are printed on both sides. They are excellent for open ended play like in the block area (in the home), they can be used for animal study, language work, matching, categorising and so much more. Unfortunately they only come in sets so it's not possible to order the animals individually. The sets include Farm, Minibeasts and Forest Animals. An advantage for schools and toddler groups is that the sets are suitable for children from 12 months of age.
The farm set has 25 pieces including two of some animals (chickens, pigs, cows etc), two farmers, a barn door and a tractor! Otto (25 months) is still very much into farm play, fascinated by anything with farm animals and tractors.
The minibeast set is delightful! So many interesting creatures. The set comes with a guide so you know the names of all the animals.
Now this is interesting. Model people. Previously in our block corner we've used a set of model community workers (like these) but there isn't many in a set and it really isn't representative of our community. This TickiT set is fantastic for parents and providers trying to promote diversity (and meet Ofsted requirements), there is age, ability, reproductive, religious and cultural diversity. There are 32 model people, also with double sided photographic images. These are by far the best 'block play', 'community workers' or 'model people' that I've found.
If you like this style you may also be interested in the TickiT matching sets. They have an awesome fruit matching set which is slightly too difficult for Otto but he LOVES this one. Mother and baby matching farm animals. These aren't double sided but have the same clear photographic images. It has 28 tiles or 14 sets which is also fantastic for language development. Once the child can verbalise the name of the animal try the baby names! It's too cute!
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