Melissa and Doug Puzzles – Sound Blocks

by Kathryn

Melissa and Doug Puzzles- Sound Blocks are suitable for toddlers through to preschoolers and are a great cause and effect toy. They can also be used as a simple motivator for vocabulary development work.

Number of Players:1

Ages: 2+

Target: Use these simple wooden blocks to teach cause and effect, simple vocabulary and have great fun with sound effects!

I love Melissa and Doug Puzzles so I was really excited when I found these sound blocks. They are available in two versions – either animal noises or vehicle sounds and I would recommend both.

They take 2 x AAA batteries and you will need a screwdriver to take off the panel and insert them underneath. After that you can help your child to place the blocks in the holder so that the front and back of the same image is showing. Once you align the picture correctly, you hear the noise. It really is as simple as that.

The sound blocks work by using a small rubber dot on each blocks surface. When these dots come in contact with the electronic areas in the base in the correct combination, you get the sound.

I have to point out that if you have a kid who is likely to scratch off the dots (I do!) then these should only be used under supervision with younger children. I don't think he is likely to come to harm by swallowing the tiny dot but I do think that they toy would be broken beyond use if he decided to remove some or all of the dots so I have decided to keep these for speech therapy use and give them to my son under supervision until he is old enough to understand “don't scratch off the dots or it won't work anymore!!”

Each set has six possible combinations / images. The animal sounds set consists of a horse, cow, dog, sheep, pig and a rooster. The vehicles blocks feature a steam train, fire truck, a motorcycle, an aeroplane, an ambulance and a boat.

The sound quality is as you would expect for an electronic toy. Certainly good enough to be recognised but maybe not so good that you could call them realistic. The sound level is just right though and although there is no on and off switch, they don't keep going after the first turn so no need to turn off.

Using the Melissa and Doug Sound Blocks in Speech Therapy

Cause and Effect

“If I do A then B always happens” “I put these blocks together in the right way and it makes a noise” - a simple concept but one that for some kids needs a lot of reinforcement and this is a fun way to do it.

These are more advanced than many cause and effect toys since the action required to get the effect is to assemble the blocks correctly so if your child struggles in this area then make sure you have covered the simple stuff first.

Simple Vocabulary

As these blocks use common images, it is easy to find a picture book with similar images. That way you can have them do matching tasks and use the blocks as a reward. So you hunt for and name the animals, then when they get it right, help them to put together the blocks and they get the animal noise as their reward.

A child who is reluctant to communicate will often attempt animal and vehicle sounds before words. You can encourage reluctant communicators by playing with all the sounds on the blocks then asking, “what does the sheep say?” and helping your child to answer “baa” until they can do it unsupported.

It is usual for them to be sure of the names or sounds for some pictures long before others. My son learned that sheep say “baa” a long time before he was able to make the sound a horse makes. Some are just easier than others so know which ones your child is likely to pick and go for the easy ones first.

Now you know all there is to know about the game – you are ready to play. Have fun!
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