Schleich is a German toy and figurine producer, headquartered in Germany, with the majority of their sales in Europe, though Canadian and American sales are growing. Their toys are modeled from nature, and meticulously handpainted. They are beautiful, and lifelike, except for the size, of course. Schleich makes many figurines including farm, wild, and sea animals.
While we don’t strictly adhere to Montessori principles, there is much I conceptually agree with, including that play and work objects should provide a real sense of the world (when possible) and that when introducing an object, it is better to introduce first the Real Thing prior to showing a two-dimensional or caricature of Said Object. This is not always practical, but, for example, we pulled out the Whale after a trip to Sea World and seeing Shamu.
And I don’t know, but given the choice, aren’t Schleich’s walrus and penguin far superior than the ones here? Oh, we have those too, mind you, I’m just saying these are far more beautiful and realistic.
They are not cheap. This here lamb (sized 5.7 x 2.5 x 4.5 cm) was $2.49 and the killer whale (sized 22.0 x 9.3 x 9.8 cm) was $12.99. Almost all the animals are between 2-6 inches and most are in the $6-$8 range. So yeah, multiply that times God’s creation and you could spend a fortune if you wanted to. However, we see these as long-term, multi-purpose toys.
When it wasn’t hot as hell outside, we’d go to the zoo and then reinforce object permanence by identifying the animals at home. We also use them to describe colors (look at the brown cow! this is a black and white whale!), and to mimic the animals’ sounds. Well, some of them anyway. I mean, the hippo? No. By the way, you should hear Harper’s lion or Mateo’s monkey sounds. Could make a hardened criminal pee his pants.
In the coming months, we can use to practice sorting as in farm or woodland or sea life. They can certainly identify them now (Mateo, go get me the Alligator), though naming will come as their language explodes. And we’ll be able to work in classification during play like putting all the different cats together and the horses together. Like blocks, these will truly grow with the child(ren) and provide for hours of imaginative play when the time comes. So… Yeah. Worth it to us.
We’re in collection mode, picking up a couple every few months. I think since I took those pictures a while back, Grandma added a camel and another horse. We have purchased most of ours from the online store and Grandma finds them at an educational toy store in her area. If you prefer to see in person before you buy, you can find a reasonably decent collection at your local Target, or you can find an authorized retailer in your area by using Schleich’s retailer search. Raaaahhhrrrr!