BJT021-1I’m constantly teaching parents and toy manufacturers what constitutes a good language toy. I demonstrate good and bad options and today I want to share a toy to which I just awarded the PAL Award for its language learning potential.

The “Rural Road and Rail Set” by Bigjigs Toys gathers kids in with the 3 car magnetic train and tracks as well as road track for wheeled vehicles but it is the props that generate play across many themes. A lake, policeman and traffic signs, farm animals, fence pieces, hay, milk truck and tractor,  nurse and children, and mechanic invite story lines across many themes that can intersect or take on their own direction. My little friends fenced in the animals, transported the hay for feeding and held the cow over the milk truck, pretending to squeeze and declaring, “There’s no more milk!” before the truck left down the roadway.

Great language toys have flexible props that start the play but don’t dictate it by being too closed rather than open ended. Our nurse treated the sick animals and mechanic fixed the train as well as the farm’s tractor. Here is my full review:

Get your engineer buddies and hop on board this new Bigjigs Rural Road and Rail Set chugging into town.  The 80 pieces of fun include roads, trees, buildings, street signs, fences, characters,  animals, a lake, and of course trains and vehicles.  Children loved assembling the winding track so the magnetized locomotive cars could race over the elevated bridge and through the crossing before the gate closed. Intersecting roads allow the ambulance to rush to the hospital, a dairy truck to deliver milk from farm to market, and cars to drive about. Colorful accessories stimulate creativity and category thinking  about farms, hospitals, towns, police and transportation which spawn story lines on many levels and themes. Great dialogue is sourced from a broad cast of characters – a conductor, nurse, police officer, and children. Wonderful pretend play iterates and evolves as kids move them about the set,  rearranging the props, using their imagination to design a community. Our three and six year-old girls enjoyed bringing the horse, pig, and goat back and forth to the nurse via the railroad cars for a little tender loving care, while a little boy held the cow over the milk truck and squeezed to load it up for delivery!  One friend exclaimed, “When will I be able to play this again?’ Mom got in the act commenting,  “It’s kind of like a dollhouse, as you get to play with the characters and change up the story.”

Available at Bigjigs Toys: Click here