Kids can learn about rain barrels and geometry by filling in this scene with blue rhombuses. | Source: hand2mind

Who says learning about saving the planet can’t be fun, engaging, and educational all at the same time?

hand2mind’s Recycling & Conservation Pattern Block Puzzle Set, designed for kids ages 3 and up, certainly fits the bill. This activity set comes with a set of 100 puzzle blocks of different shapes, sizes, and colors, including hexagons, squares, triangles, rhombuses, and more. Along with the blocks, there are 10 double-sided puzzle cards.

Each of those puzzle cards, which are about the size of printer paper, offers an environmentally friendly scene with missing components that kids fill in using the puzzle blocks. All of the cards feature a difficulty rating on a scale of 1-4. The easier cards outline the shape of every block that kids will add to the mat to complete the image and sometimes also show the color of those shapes. The level-four mats, however, only offer a larger white space that kids can fill in with a specified set of tiles — basically, a tangrams puzzle.

Finding the right tiles to complete the scenes helps develop kids’ fine motor skills, basic geometry knowledge, and problem-solving abilities. But on top of that, these activities are designed to introduce eco-friendly practices and start conversations about the importance of caring for our planet. The cards are broken down into four themes: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and Protect. The Reduce scenes show kids how their individual actions can help cut back on wasting resources; the Reuse cards provide examples of items we can reuse, including water bottles and cloth shopping bags; the Recycle images introduce the basics of the recycling process; and the Protect cards are designed to help kids think about how we interact with nature.

There are even two “Free Play” scenes, which offer blank outdoor scenes. Kids can use the puzzle blocks, their imaginations, and the environmental concepts they learn with the other cards to construct their own images.

The contents of the Recycling & Conservation Pattern Block Puzzle Set | Source: hand2mind

One important element of this set is the included activity guide. This booklet is designed for an adult caregiver to read and utilize — it’s packed with detailed explanations of the cards, sample conversation questions to help kids get thinking about their relationship with the environment, and so much more. This set is certainly good for independent play, but it truly shines when kids get guidance and encouragement from an adult as they explore.

Related: Math Meets Eco-Friendly Sensory Play in a New Hand2Mind Activity Set

In addition to offering plenty of educational value and a starting point for teaching kids about our planet, this learning toy is a great option for parents seeking eco-friendly products. The puzzle blocks are made entirely of recycled plastic and arrive in a paper storage envelope, the set comes in a cardboard box that doubles as storage and a sorting space for the blocks, and there are no plastic packaging elements.

There is zero waste from this set, which means you can not only talk the talk, but also show kids how to walk the walk when it comes to being a friend to our planet!

About the author

Madeleine Buckley

Madeleine Buckley

Madeleine Buckley was a Senior Editor at The Pop Insider, The Toy Insider, and The Toy Book. She covered all things toys and fandom, and has appeared on Cheddar and a variety of regional news networks to talk about the latest trends in both. She is a movie score enthusiast, mediocre knitter, proud Syracuse alumna, and Marvel lover. You can usually find her at the movies or hanging out at home with her super-pup, Parker.