By peoplestaff225
Updated October 16, 2008 05:00 PM

Eichhorn Wooden Sorting Castle

The moment I saw this colorful wooden castle I loved it, and I knew I wasn't going to be the only one. The sturdy Eichhorn Sorting Castle ($22) isn't one of those wooden ‘Made in Germany' toys that thoughtful parents adore and their babies ignore for blinking noisy plastic delights. With its removable towers and blocks in six different shapes and colors it looks like a fun place for a prince or princess to live and indeed this castle is magic.

I bought it when my son was 17 months old (even though it's recommended for ages 24 months and up), and for weeks it was the first thing he grabbed in the morning and carried everywhere with him. Now that he just turned two he still spends up to 20 minutes with this sturdy toy, or as it's known in the world of toddlers, an eternity of play. He can drop the blocks through the matching holes at the top, shuffle them through the ones at the side, or put them in the right shapes on top like a puzzle and then take great joy when his mom slides the movable deck open and all the blocks fall through (there's some noise at least!). Finally, he opens the bright red doors, sees where the treasures went and starts all over again, all the while learning about colors, shapes, and cause and effect.

Of course sometimes the castle serves merely as a garage for toy cars and trains – I'm sure the prince and princess don't mind.

— Iris