Oh, Deer!


Some of the excellent animal flash cards
Some of the excellent animal flash cards

The dollar section of any store draws our attention. Buying things for a toddler (who is likely to fold, spindle, or mutilate anything we get him) is a little easier when we are only spending a dollar. We can find toys, games, and educational items there and they are fine, just fine, nothing wonderful. But occasionally there is something excellent.

My son already loves animals and we want to encourage him to learn as much as he can about them. He has realistic toys and animal science books. One of his favorite websites is www.arkive.org, which is just footage of hundreds of different animals without any animation or cartoony effects.

Flash cards are a dime a dozen, or in this case 10 dimes for 3 dozen. So we don’t expect much from them, but this set of cards is excellent! The paper is sturdy enough to resist minor folding, spindling, and mutilating. The cards are large enough to see the details on the animals. The font for the animal names is large and easy to read. Best of all, the animal pictures are beautiful photographs, well cropped, on white backgrounds. Very nice.

Even better, the selection of animals is wonderful. The camel is a two-humped Bactrian camel instead of the standard one-humped Dromedary. There are visually interesting animals such as a seahorse, a ferret, and an octopus. There are animals which never make it into ABC posters and borders, such as hermit crabs and worms. Amazingly, the sheep card shows a black sheep! Black! Pick any other animal educational tool and the sheep are always white!

The one area where this set of cards falls apart is in the worst place of all…the box cover. The box features a red fox with a strange look on its face. Whoever was in charge of marketing this educational tool must have decided to jazz up the cover image with some funny drawings and clever phrases. So, the fox is wearing a flowered hat and saying “Oh, Deer!” Why?

Oh, dear...why has this happened?
Oh, dear…why has this happened?

Why, why, why? You have an excellent product. The cards have everything going right for them. Why add a drawing of a hat onto the fox? Why is he saying “Oh, deer”? Why do you think it is funny to spell “deer” that way? You do know that foxes don’t even hunt deer, right? Are you wanting to be cute? Why is the fox the only “cute” image then? Why don’t all the animals have whimsical clothes and catchphrases? If you want to be serious and scientific like the rest of the cards in the box, why gussy up the fox with silliness?

I didn’t pick these cards off the rack; it was a gift for my son from someone else. Honestly, if it had been me picking out the cards, I would have passed them by. The box cover announces that the contents are silly, not serious.

A Good Idea: Pick one. Be serious or be silly. Be realistic or be cartoony. Be lighthearted or be heavy. But pick one, just one, and be excellent at that one.

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