The Very Hungry Number Crunching Squirrel

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Nov 132018
 

Where miss Sybbie was a very quiet 3-year old who would only say a handful of words, our little Hattie is the total opposite and a real chatterbox. What a great result from having her tongue tie snipped at 6 months old, I truly believe it made a big difference. She talks all the time and I love hearing her chat to her siblings, have conversations with her toys while playing or respond to her favourite TV shows. This cheeky critter from LeapFrog is her new chat-pal:

The hungry Number Crunching Squirrel (RRP $24.95, ages 2-4) enjoys nothing more than a varied diet of apples, strawberries, bananas and grapes, in fact he can eat up to 10 pieces of fruit in just one sitting! Toddlers will love filling him up with his favourite foods and learning fruit names and facts and the importance of a healthy diet at the same time.

When you press the squirrel’s nose he will ask a question eg. ‘Can you feed me 5 pieces of fruit?’ ‘Can you feed me something green?’ ‘Can you feed me a red strawberry?’. This encourages interactive play and introduces kids to the cause and effect principle, who doesn’t love praise when you get things right?! The squirrel counts out loud with each coin he eats and even tells you about the colour and fruit as he swallows, now that is clever.

Putting the coins in the squirrel’s mouth, pressing his red nose and the acorn music button, opening and closing the door and pushing his tail are all excellent fine motor skill exercises for curious toddlers. As they play toddlers also learn to count the treats, sing cute fruit-themed songs, recognise different colours and sort by colour/image.

Once the friendly squirrel’s hunger has finally been stilled you can empty his tummy with a simple push of his big tail. All the treats will pop out one by one (Ted loves this part!) and the feeding fun starts all over again, he has quite some appetite. The little door keeps his tummy contents safely stored, that way you never have to hunt for any missing treats.

To find out more about LeapFrog, to browse the range and to locate stockist near you visit www.leapfrog.com.au.

Magical moments with Myla

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Oct 152018
 

VTech

Like many other girls our little ladies go absolutely crazy for unicorns. Unicorn jewellery, unicorn cupcakes, unicorn headbands and unicorn stationery, they just can’t enough of these magical creatures! I have gently tried to convince miss 5 that there is no such thing as a real unicorn, but I have to admit that VTech has come pretty close…

Myla the Magical Make-Up Unicorn (RRP $79.95, ages 5+) is beautiful soft unicorn that is sure to charm little fans with her many magical features. Sybbie has been in absolute awe of Myla and the two have been inseparable since their first encounter, she now accompanies us on all our adventures.

Measuring 37cm tall Myla is quite a large toy, which means she gives rather impressive hugs and is easy to handle for small children. You can pose her legs so she can stand up independently and she can even move her head and blink her eyes like a real animal. When you touch her back Myla rewards you with compliments (eg. You are special) and encouragements (eg. Be confident) which encourages interaction between Myla and her owner.

Myla comes with a special microphone that makes her sing a selection of fun and inspirational songs, just hold the microphone in front of her mouth and she’ll perform her latest track for you. Miss Sybbie really enjoys doing Myla’s mane and tail with the included comb and accessories (she has even learnt to braid) however her favourite past-time is by far doing Myla’s make-up.

Just in case you are anything like me: Don’t worry, there is no mess involved! Using the magic make-up brush and a colourful make-up palette you can decorate Myla over and over again with the most beautiful rainbow colours. Simply touch a colour on the palette with the brush and then touch Myla’s horn, eyes or wings to see them light up like she comes flying straight out of a fairytale (this looks especially amazing with the lights off).

VTech toys are available at major department stores, select online stores and independent toy retailers across Australia.

To find out more about VTech, to browse the range and to locate a stockist near you visit www.vtech.com.au.

On safari with LeapFrog

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Oct 102018
 

And then he was one… As much as I wish it wasn’t true our little Ted is no longer a baby. In the blink of an eye he turned into an adventurous boy who walks everyone, climbs on everything and loves exploring the house. He walks so quietly that you don’t even hear him coming (or going) so I could really do with an extra pair of eyes! Thankfully this LeapFrog birthday gift does an excellent job keeping him entertained so I can quickly get some jobs done:

The LeapFrog Learning Safari Playspace (RRP $99.95, ages 6-36 months) is super versatile educational toy that is designed for growing babies, offering a range of ways to play and learn at different ages and stages. This made it a perfect birthday gift for Ted (and great value for money) as I know it will be enjoyed over and over again.

The Learning Safari Playspace features a sweet selection of animal friends who love teaching your baby new things. Simply press the large buttons to learn about numbers and letters (and watch them pop up on the digital light up screen), practise your colours, turn on the chameleon’s magical rainbow light, discover animal facts spin the beads and much more. Each action helps little explorers work on important motor skills whilst having fun (smile and get smarter!).

Babies can (p)lay underneath the large arch and watch the colours, lights and dangling leaves (when you pull each leaf you hear the corresponding number), they can crawl through it or pull up and stand next to it, great practice for those developing leg muscles. You can even lay the arch flat to transform it into a ‘table’ for baby to sit at. Ted loves showing off his talent for the piano (not only do the piano keys play music, they teach shapes too) but he loves it even more to sit ON the piano so we might keep the arch up for a while longer!

From laying down to sitting up, from crawling to standing and beyond, the Learning Safari Playspace will challenge little minds and help young children develop new skills as they get older. From the moment we unpacked and set up this fun new toy Ted has been intrigued by it, he loves the bright colours, enjoys the sounds and songs and his absolute favourite part is the ball slide.

The Learning Safari Playspace comes with three coloured balls that roll through the monkey’s tail down the slide, it even counts the number of balls as you insert them. Seeing the balls disappear down that mysterious hole and finding out where they will reappear next is a perfect cause and effect exercise and Ted can’t get enough of it.

To find out more about LeapFrog, to browse the range and to locate stockist near you visit www.leapfrog.com.au.

Sep 152016
 

VTech

Just ten more days until baby Hattie turns one, hasn’t that year just flown by? She is such a delightful girl to have around and she has the cheekiest grin. Most of the time she is a real ‘velcro baby’ who loves to be carried around and snuggle with mummy, but lately she has been getting better at playing independently too. These VTech toys are making floor-play much more fun:

VTech Top

The colourful Push & Play Spinning Top (RRP $29.95, 6-30 months) is an ideal toy for her chubby little hands to practise her fine motor skills whilst having fun. A good push on one of the buttons or animals is instantly rewarded with flashing lights, songs, sounds and phrases. Designed with babies in mind the buttons are large and the characters chunky, making it easy for them to control and play independently.

Push & Play Spinning TopWhilst Harriet’s hands are getting some good exercise her growing brain is being challenged too: the VTech Push & Play Spinning Top teaches a range of great basics eg. the numbers 1 to 4, shapes, colours, the names of animals and their characteristics. With so many ways of play this brilliant baby and toddler toy definitely won’t get boring quickly and will be enjoyed for a long time.

Spin & Learn Colours TorchTo be honest the Spin & Learn Colours Torch (RRP $19.95, 18-36 months) was meant to be hiding in the gift cupboard until Christmas time, but thanks to an unexpected power cut we unwrapped it a little earlier. In the pitch dark we turned the ring to create different coloured lights, sang along with the ABC and made shadow-puppets on the wall. Who would have thought being without power would be this much fun?

This is the perfect first torch for adventurous toddlers, combining playful learning with a practical and sturdy flashlight for bedtime, building a cubby house or going camping. The handy Automatic Shut Off function will ensure we don’t run out of batteries quickly, always ready for our next power cut.

VTech Tree

Officially it’s called the Stack, Sort & Store Tree (RRP $24.95, 9-24 months) but in our house they could well go by the ‘Tantrum Triangles’: all our kids (even the almost 8-year olds) are always arguing about this new addition to Hattie’s toy box, I guess that shows it is loved by 11 up to 95 month olds! At just 11 months old Hattie is only just discovering this awesome toy so it is really interesting to see how kids at different ages and developmental stages use it.

Stack, Sort & Store TreeHarriet is currently trying to master the stacking part by piling up the coloured triangles, however her favourite part is knocking the tower over (usually before the cat makes it to the top). The older kids like nesting the triangles by number and colour, I really love this feature as it means all the pieces stay together neatly and it takes up little storage space. The friendly cat plays happy tunes, sings songs and when placed on one of the triangles it teaches children the correct number and colour.

VTech Tower

VTech toys are available at major department stores and independent toy retailers across Australia.

To find out more about VTech, to browse the range and to locate a stockist near you visit www.vtech.com.au.

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Petilou by Le Toy Van

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Jun 042016
 

Le Toy Van

A few months ago I introduced you the lovely Petilou toy range, designed especially for the youngest of the family by the talented toy specialists at Le Toy Van. I was immediately smitten with the cute designs and quality materials and after seeing their latest creations I have become an even bigger fan, check out what’s new on the Petilou toy shelves:

Petilou Sensory ShapesWith miss Hattie’s first birthday coming up in just 4 months I have my heart set on this gorgeous wooden Sensory Shapes Set (RRP $54.95, 12 months+). The colours are bright, the pictures sweet, the shapes interesting and the sounds intriguing, I can see how this would keep her little mind busy for ages. There is just so much to see, feel and hear, I can’t wait to watch her unwrap and explore this pretty gift.

Petilou My Little HouseOne of my other personal favourites is the adorable My Little House shape sorter (RRP $28.95, 12 months+), doesn’t it look divine? This pretty wooden house is home to 6 colourful shapes and it’s a fabulous way to introduce young children to different shapes and colours. The shapes are the perfect size for small hands and children will love the challenge of matching each shape with the right hole in the red roof.

You can find these Petilou treasures, and other items from the Le Toy Van range, in store right now at Australian online boutique Sweet Creations, delivery is $9.95 Australia wide.

Petilou range

To find out more about Sweet Creations, to browse the Le Toy Van range and to order online visit www.sweetcreations.com.au.

VTech Feed Me Dino

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Nov 172015
 

VTech

Of course welcoming a new baby in the family is very special and we are all enjoying our tiny addition, in saying that it can also be a tricky time for older siblings. Having to be a little more quiet and patient than usual, playing happily on your own and lending a helping hand every now and then… I think our big four are doing an awesome job adjusting and to keep up the good spirits (and my sanity) all of them have been treated to a special gift. Miss 2 has scored this friendly fellow:

Feed Me Dino

The VTech Feed Me Dino (RRP $34.95, ages 18-48 months) is a fabulous interactive toy with plenty of interesting features to keep miss Sybbie entertained, in fact miss 5 quite enjoys a play with it too.

Feed Me Dino 1

As you may remember Sybil had us worried for a while with her lack of speech but she is now making lots of progress which is wonderful to see. At this stage it is all about ‘learning through play’ and with over 100 melodies, sounds and fun phrases Feed Me Dino has proven to be a great aid in expanding her vocabulary. We sometimes use the dino as part of our speech exercises but she also plays with it by herself or with her siblings.

Feed Me DIno 2

Sybil particularly loves practising her colours and fruits by feeding dino the eight coloured ‘coins’. At first she listened to the dino as he described his food and repeated after him, now she loudly names each colour and fruit herself before putting the coins in his mouth so she is picking things up really well. As we have learnt from the speech therapist repetition is key in the learning process and we can absolutely see this working for our little student.

Feed Me Dino 3

Feed Me Dino is quite a large toy with little wheels for pull-along fun, it has five chunky colourful buttons (great for teaching colours and shapes) that are easy to press and a spinning disc to play different songs and sentences. By pushing the light-up button on Dino’s head he will ask a question, eg. ‘I am hungry, can you feed me 6 pieces of food?’ or ‘Can you feed me the orange carrot?’, encouraging kids to follow up. Between the two modes of play (Numbers/Foods) there is plenty to learn for cheeky tots!

To find out more about VTech and to browse the range visit www.vtech.co.uk.

Christmas with Beados

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Nov 302014
 

Beados

Last Saturday we planned a lovely trip to our local wildlife park but the weather had different plans so we found ourselves stuck inside instead. What better way to turn that frown upside down than with some fun Christmas craft? We had the best time coming up with our very own Christmas designs with Beados, I was so pleased with the results and the kids loved it. (Missed my first Beados post? Click here to read what Beados is all about) If you’re keen to get started on your own Beados Christmas craft here are a few tips:

Beados Christmas Snowflake

As there are no specific Beados Christmas templates available you have to use your imagination and design as you go. While that is quite easy for most adults children might struggle a little bit so if my kids thought of a tricky picture I used Google images to find some simple examples (e.g. snowflake template or reindeer template), there are lots of great images out there that you can use for inspiration. Depending on the ages of your children they may need a bit of help so why not make it into an activity for the whole family?

Beados Christmas Play Set

When creating pieces to play with or to display as a nativity scene try to design them with a flat strip at the bottom so that the small plastic display stands can grip properly. That way your creations can stand upright independently and it looks really cool. We also made a few flat designs to decorate our handmade Christmas cards with, you can just stick them on with ordinary craft glue.

Beados Christmas Reindeer

When creating Christmas tree ornaments ideally leave two rows of Beados around the hole where you want to thread the ribbon. This will make your design much stronger and more resilient especially if it is a bigger/heavier piece. While I did create a few pieces with just a single row of Beados they are clearly more delicate so I have placed them higher up in the tree to keep them away from grabby crabby hands. We made this cute angel window decoration using the Beados suction cup, I think we may add to our window scene over the next few weeks as these floating designs look quite magical.

Beados Christmas Angel

As tempting as it is to play with/hang up your new creations as soon as possible it is best to let them dry thoroughly, turn them around and spray the other side as well and again leave to dry for a day or two. This will make your Beados art much stronger and durable so it is worth the wait. Of course if one or a few of the Beados beads were to come off (which does happen sometimes especially if kids play with them all the time) you can simply reattach them with a spray of water and drying time.

Beados Christmas Card

If you’ve made some Christmas craft with Beados too I would love to see it!

To find out more about Beados by Moose Toys, to browse the range and to locate a stockist near you visit www.mooseworld.com.au, prices start at RRP $9.99.