Ring builders

Do you have these in your classrooms? I think every center I have ever been in has a set of these. At least one set. Typically, they come in a "library" of manipulative items sold by the major suppliers. They are only an okay toy.
That's right, I said only okay. They aren't my favorite. They do have their positives: great for patterning and math activities. They can even be good for some fine motor skills...for the more advanced child. However, I believe that there are more better products for these skills.
Patterning can be created with any product, and there are so many fine motor activities that these aren't really necessary. I wouldn't order them except that they come in "libraries" of items that I do want.
In my experience, they are easily misshapen. The bend and stay bent easily. The bumps on top don't easily line up with another piece, making it difficult and frustrating for most children. The children end up placing them in rows or organized piles, rather than actually building with them. It takes an advanced thinker to start doing, or trying to, more than just towers. To use these to build out and up, rather than just up or just out. I have yet to witness a child do this on their own (without an adult initiating the idea).
The bumps on the top also easily break off. This makes it even more difficult to using properly. With the way they are easily bent (sometimes just from the way they sit in the containers) it makes it difficult to line up the bumps and posts to make a structure; once they get them together they aren't very stable because they are already bent.
In conclusion, I would only buy these if they come with a "library" of other items I need/want.
On a positive note, they are fun in the sensory table with soapy water, they make okay bubble blowers.

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