All aboard the Playtime Bus

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Jun 282020
 

VTech

As a mum of 2 boys and 4 girls I love seeing how our two sons are alike in many ways. Our oldest son Tommie (now nearly 12) was extremely interested in learning his letters when he was just a toddler and he still an avid reader now. He loved ABC puzzles, wipe off letter boards and any toy that would sound out the alphabet and the individual letter sounds. Five siblings and ten years later our boy Ted (2) is obsessed with the alphabet too so I had no doubt this cool VTech ride would get his (brain) wheels turning:

If your little learner is crazy about everything that moves the Playtime Bus with Phonics (RRP $34.95, ages 2-5), with its bright colours, realistic traffic sounds and push along handle, is guaranteed to be a huge hit. Initially there may just be lots of laps around the house, but there is plenty more to discover along the way…

Ted’s eyes instantly lit up when he spotted all the buttons on his new Playtime Bus. With more than 40 buttons to press, four different modes of play (Phonics, Numbers, Music Station and Challenge Time) and a door that opens and closes there is certainly no time for sitting still. All together this fabulous vehicle offers more than 100 interactive curriculum questions and 30+ melodies, songs and sounds so it really is jam-packed with learning fun.

On the top of the bus you find 4 chunky buttons to control the engine sound, horn, brakes and the intercom telling you where the bus is heading next (The next stop is the zoo) accompanied by a catchy song. By opening the door you can learn to count by counting the number of children get off the bus. Three happy passengers have a window seat and share easy-to-understand sentences about their trip when you press their picture, eg ‘A green light means go’, ‘Always wear your seatbelt in the car’ and ‘I sit with my best friend on the bus’.

The main reason the Playtime Bus caught our eye was because it teaches children all 26 letters of the alphabet, as well as the number 1-10. Simply press one of the coloured letters to hear the letter, the letter sound and an easy everyday word that starts with that particular letter. It even distinguishes between vowels (blue) and consonants (yellow), which you don’t see that often in pre-schooler toys!

Of course Ted is only just starting to practice his ABCs, but once he’s a bit more confident he can test his knowledge with a fun question and answer game in Challenge Time mode, eg. Which letter sound does elephant start with? Can you find the letter C? Let’s count how many children get on the bus!

As a mother one of the things I love is that VTech understands that praise and encouragement is a great motivator, therefor this clever bus is full of positive affirmations eg. Great job! Terrific! If kids get it wrong there is no harm done either (Nice try, let’s try again) and they’ll be keen to give things another go. Are you ready to hop on the VTech Playtime Bus?

You can find the Playtime Bus with Phonics right now at your local Big W store and soon at 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.

Ten Terrible Dinosaurs giveaway

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Feb 142019
 

Pan Macmillan Australia

At almost 3.5 years old miss Hattie is getting very excited (and also a little nervous) about the prospect of starting kindy. She loves painting, craft and colouring but is not too keen to practicing her letters and numbers, so the trick seems to be to combine them. Over the last few weeks we’ve been working with this cool picture book by Paul Stickland, the hero of all dinosaur books:

Ten Terrible Dinosaurs (RRP $14.99) is a colourful picture book filled with cheeky dinosaurs. Hattie likes the bright colours and the different types of dinosaurs and she is learning to predict the rhyme. The sentences are short enough for her to remember and a few tricky words keep it challenging at the same time. We count down from ten, we describe the dinos and then we try to recreate them with paint or crayons which is good fun!

Did you know that all Dinosaur Roar books are endorsed by the Palaeontology Department of the Natural History Museum in London? This mean they are not only fun to read but educational too, treating your little bookworm to a host of interesting facts about each of these amazing dinosaurs.

To find out more about Pan Macmillan, to take a closer look at ‘The World of Dinosaur Roar!’ and to order your favourite titles online visit www.panmacmillan.com.au.

For your chance to win 1 of 3 copies of Ten Terrible Dinosaurs (RRP $14.99) hop on over to the Hip Little One Facebook page to enter. Good luck!

Dino’s Delightful Day

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Dec 142018
 

At 14 months old Ted is trying very hard to make himself heard in his own little language and we can actually understand quite a lot of it. He likes yelling ‘die die’ at people when they leave and when I give a one, two, three warning to one of the other kids he cheekily shakes his finger and says ‘two, two’. Ted also loves copying sounds and songs so this cute LeapFrog toy book is very entertaining:

Dino’s Delightful Day book (RRP $34.95, ages 12 months +) is a fun, interactive book that combines lots of features cheeky toddlers like. Colours, sounds, music, books, balls, buttons, lights… it’s got it all!

Let’s start with the outside. This green dino is quite the big fella with a chunky handle for little hands to hold onto. It has 10 numbered buttons, a large yellow butterfly button and his left foot features a spinning bead roller. Dino’s lovely bright colours make him very appealing to young children, you will regularly find Hattie or Ted in a quiet corner checking him out.

Across 16 pages the book not only tells the story of Dino’s Delightful Day, it also teaches letters, numbers, colour, words and music. Simply choose the ABC (letters/words), Music or Book mode to get started. Once you’ve had a good shot at practising those letters you can test how much you’ve learnt by pressing the Butterfly button: Find the letter …! If you get it right she’ll say it’s correct, or otherwise she’ll simply tell you the sound of the letter you pressed, no harm done.

I particularly like that the ABC mode teaches different words than most standard ABC books (eg. E is for Exercise, M is for Market, P is for Popcorn and Y is for Yawn) and that the words tie in with the story in the Book mode. You can also play seek-find and spot each ‘word’ written in the story and pictured in the illustration. This really helps children to recognise words, understand their meaning and how to use them in sentences.

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

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.

DigiArt Creative Easel, a stroke of genius

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Jun 302018
 

VTech

Well, the kids have just finished their first full week at the new school and everyone seems to be settling in just fine. There are still some tears from miss Sybbie in the morning (just like at the old school) but five minutes later she is happy and smiling and she is showing some great improvement in her reading and writing already, she is even keen to try more at home. She’s been having lots of fun testing her new writing skills on Hattie’s new easel from the clever toy makers at VTech:

The 3-in-1 VTech DigiArt Creative Easel (RRP $89.95, whiteboard, blackboard and drawing table) is a fabulous interactive design that comes jam-packed with awesome features. There are many different ways to use and enjoy the DigiArt Easel, keeping it fun and interesting for young children as they grow, learn and develop.

At almost 3 Harriet is only just hitting the right age for the DigiArt Creative Easel (ages 3-6) but that is not stopping her from trying out all there is to do and learn. Using the attached magic pen little learners can follow the lights on the light-up white board to learn how to write letters, numbers and more all by themselves. Hattie is pretty pleased with her efforts and loves showing off her work, maybe she’s a school teacher in the making?… With more than 150 numbers, letters, objects and shapes to write and draw there is no shortage of design ideas!

Using the brightly coloured buttons underneath the board children can swap and change between different modes of play (Eg. learn to draw, a guessing game or free drawing), adjust brightness and sound, play 10 classic songs or listen to each letter of the alphabet. But there is more: when you turn around the white board a cool blackboard is revealed, get ready to put your new writing/drawing skills into action with chalk!

The easel features a handy clip-storage spot for the magic pen (which is attached with string so it won’t get lost) and plenty of storage for a bunch of coloured white board markers or a pack of chalk. Three pieces of chalk are included, white board markers are widely available and can be purchased/replaced as needed. Hip Tip: If you are planning to wrap this one up for Christmas you may want to tuck in some extra markers too.

I especially love that in just a minute or two the DigiArt Creative Easel can be transformed into a fantastic drawing table at perfect kids’ height. It allows your little artist to use the Easel like a proper desk and the drawing surface can also be shared by siblings or friends who can sit around the table together and create to their heart’s content. The only downside is that there is only one magic pen but of course you can always use multiple white board markers or clip on a big sheet of ordinary drawing paper.

The DigiArt Creative Easel is available in green and pink, which colour would your little artist like most?

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.

Starting School with VTech

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Jul 232017
 

VTech

After a shaky start at kindy due to a 12-month speech delay we were very curious (and a bit nervous!) to hear how miss Sybbie has been getting along in this first half of the year. We were so thrilled to see her excellent results and she has worked really hard at catching up, as of this month she has mastered her final tricky letter and she has settled into the kindy routine beautifully. Now we can make a careful start at getting her ready for school and this cool VTech find is a perfect tool to get there:

From letters to numbers, from spelling to counting, from shapes to instruments, from animals to foods and much more, with 30 interactive activities the VTech My Zone Laptop (Ages 3-6, RRP $34.95) really is the Pandora’s Box of learning fun. What a fabulous way to introduce your pre-schooler to a wide range of subjects, even hesitant learners like our miss 4 will be gaining knowledge as they play!

To ensure your curious pre-schooler doesn’t run out of things to discover too quickly VTech has come up with progressive learning levels, so the difficulty will increase gradually as your child develops and grows. The My Zone Laptop teaches valuable skills like logic, number and letter recognition, problem solving and prediction and at the same time is great practice for that important fine motor dexterity and hand-eye coordination.

Since Sybil has recently mastered the letters of her own name and can confidently write it herself we are currently working hard on recognising the rest of the alphabet. She finds the little pictures on each of the letter buttons really helpful and she loves the wide choice of letter games, eg. find the Beginning Letter and the Exploring Letters. Some of her favourite number games are Shapes Counting, Bigger or Smaller and Number Quiz. Now that she has gotten to know the keyboard and direction keys she is getting faster at it by the day!

Good to know: Even though this child-friendly computer is aimed at 3-6 year olds, our 8-year old twins have been grabbing a turn on it whenever they can as well. They may be well past the early learning games but they still very much enjoy having a go at Fishing Journey, Music Quiz or Crossing Iceland. Seeing how one toy appeals to all of our kids really proves it is a fantastic toy for siblings to share and great value for money.

During the last school holidays this interactive laptop has provided us with hours of entertainment for our little busy bee and therefore some much needed sanity for this tired mummy. I love that children can enjoy the My Zone Laptop both at home and on the go, it’s the perfect compact size for a kids’ backpack, holiday suitcase or even to slide in the back pocket of your car seat (for when boredom strikes on long car trips). Just remember to bring the batteries (2x AA batteries)!

For a more personal learning experience your My Zone Laptop can be customised with your little learner’s name, age, an avatar, favourite food, melody and more, this ‘All About Me’ function is a wonderful way to make kids feel special and speak to their imagination.

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.

Jan 022016
 

Appleseed

2016. To us it may be just a number for little ones numbers are fun and interesting, especially when they are just learning to count. Our miss Sybbie is up to 20 but still needs a bit of practice recognising all those tricky numerals so we’re often counting digits while playing, reading and shopping. I recently stumbled upon this adorable numbers book by Abrams Appleseed and think it would make a lovely addition to our bookshelf:

Countablock

The beautiful Countablock board book (RRP $19.95) guides little learners through the numbers 1-10 and even tens all the way up to 100. What really makes this sweet book stand out from the crowd are the large die-cut numbers that add an extra dimension to the counting exercise.

Countablock Book

With its colourful images and eye-catching illustrations by Peskimo this sturdy board book is sure to become a family favourite in no time, it’s simply perfect for small hands, wandering eyes and curious minds. Love Countablock? Young readers can master letters too with its board book sibling called Alphablock. You can find Countablock in store at Australian online store UrbanBaby.

To find out more about UrbanBaby, to take a closer look at Countablock and to order online visit www.urbanbaby.com.au.