I had a cheerful exchange recently with a correspondent, who wanted to teach her daughter how to play chess, and was attracted to the Children's Chess Set (from Devon's very own House of Marbles). I like that set a lot, and in a similar vein you can still get hold of Babushkachess sets on places like eBay. However, while cute, they don't do anything to reduce the learning curve of playing chess.
I remember that on my teacher training course, people interested in learning how to teach English as a Foreign Language were given a lesson in Finnish, just to remind them what it's like to be a complete beginner again. Similarly, while I have been writing books for youngsters, I have been forcing myself to remember in a similar way, by finding a new game and learning how to play. So, I've learned the chess games of China and Japan and Thailand and Persia; I've learned Go and Tablut and Hahnentafl and Latrunculi; I've even started playing Bridge. While exploring, I have found simplified versions of Shogi like the new and also very cute Dobutsu-Shogi. I also came across the idea of marking pieces so that you can see how they move - as in this children's Shogi set and the Dobutsu game. Can this be done for chess?
The Bauhaus chess set by Josef Hartwig goes a long way towards the goal, but I found making my own version quite fiddly to do. So, here's something I was doodling with this afternoon: two designs for a teaching chess set. Print onto card or stick onto wooden squares, or print and fold to use in game-players card holders. Comments invited, as well as feedback from any trials!