Oct 142020
 

VTech

It only feels like yesterday that I held my beautiful chubby newborn in my arms, admiring his big rosy cheeks and full head of dark hair. Suddenly the next day Ted is a cheeky 3-year old who keeps us on our toes 24/7 with his busy chatter and silly antics. Birthdays are a strange thing, they are both a joy and a heartbreak in one.

Of course Ted himself absolutely loved being in the birthday spotlight and he has been thoroughly spoilt by friends and family last month. Among his gifts were a big stack of Campbell Busy Books (I highly recommend these!), some cool new Imagicard games for his LeapPad (Blaze and the Monster Machines, perfect for our car-crazy boy) and this fun interactive play set by VTech.

Remember that old school fishing game with a small plastic rod and tiny magnetic fish? Well, the toy specialists at VTech have given it a trendy and educational makeover making it the perfect catch for curious preschoolers of today. Get out your fishing gear and hook a winner in Wiggle & Jiggle Fishing Fun (Ages 2-5, RRP $44.95).

The bright blue ocean is home to 7 colourful sea creatures: A crab, a clam, a lobster, an octopus, a puffer fish, a marlin and a seahorse. Using the magnetic fishing rod, fitted with a pretend reel and ‘smart sensor’ hook, you can catch the creatures one by one, watch them wiggle and jiggle on the line and learn about each animal as you go. The chunky shapes are are easy to hold for small hands, but at the same dangling the rod above a specific animal is a great exercise for those important fine motor skills and requires a bit of concentration.

The clever fishing rod automatically recognises and teaches little fishermen and women the names of the different animals, their colours and their numbers and the buoy light even changes colour to match your catch! In ‘game mode’ children are encouraged to search the sea for a certain animal or colour, giving them a little hint by lighting up the buoy in the right colour. Add to that some fun songs and happy tunes and you’re in for a fabulous fishing adventure.

Even though there is only one fishing rod this play set is definitely good fun for siblings or friends to enjoy together, Ted and Hattie happily take turns reeling in an ocean creature. They encourage each other by telling the other which colour to aim for next or they catch the pieces in numerical order. When you are done fishing and it’s time to head home you can store your catch in the handy green basket.

Hip Tip: Because we would like the ‘paper sea’ to last a little longer we intend to laminate the sheet, making it stronger and easy to clean.

You can find Wiggle & Jiggle Fishing Fun right now at your local Target store and 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.

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.

The Big LeapFrog Bake Off

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Jun 202020
 

During our weeks of home isolation hip daddy finally finished off our outdoor cubby house and it has been a source of joy, giggles and adventures for all the kids (and even the pets). Tea parties, mums and dads, schools, deserted islands, picnics… there is no limit to their imagination and I love hearing their chatter as they play. Unfortunately the weather for outside play has now ended so we’re snuggling up inside instead. Bye bye cubby house snacks and hello toasty winter treats, welcome to the big LeapFrog Bake Off!

The adorable Number Loving Oven (RRP $39.95, ages 2+) is sure to appeal to budding bakers and curious chefs, our two pre-schoolers have been cooking up a storm. Yummy pizza, pretty cupcakes, a fried egg or even a freshly baked loaf of bread, this cute little oven does it all!

The Number Loving Oven is cleverly designed to suit a range of ages, development stages and learning interests, making it a great toy for siblings to share. For early learners the oven brings different types of food and colours, a shape sorting oven tray, the puzzle of building a pizza and a baguette, a sizzling stove top, a door that opens and closes and of course lights, sounds and songs.

As your master chef gets older he/she will start recognising the numbers on the pizza and the oven timer, you can learn about temperature and time, practise sharing and dividing food between guests and serving food on a plate with a spatula.  Seeing how our 2-year old, 4-year old and even 7-year old ‘play kitchen’ together with the Number Loving Oven, yet notice, learn and enjoy different things about it, proves it is a toy that will last the distance in a growing family.

By moving the timer, opening and closing the door and pressing the green chef’s hat button children will hear a wide range of learning questions (Let’s see, how long will that take to bake? Set the oven to four. That’s it! Let’s cook and count), encouraging sentences (That turned out beautifully! Mmmm, delicious. Let’s share), cooking information (1. Pre-heat, this little oven must pre-heat before you start to bake a treat. 4. Hot hot hot, to cook the pizza that’s you’ve got) and catchy songs about hand washing, cooking, waiting and counting. Plenty of kitchen chat to make cooking fun!

Bonus: As a mum I am super chuffed that all the food items fit neatly inside the oven, just close the door and everything is properly tidied away. No missing pieces and easy to store, winning! It is also a perfect compact size to keep in the cupboard at Grandma’s for when the grandies come visit.

You can find the LeapFrog Number Loving Oven at a Big W or other good toy store near you and online at selected retailers.

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

A is for Apple

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Nov 162019
 

Time can’t go fast enough for our Hattie who will be having her first taste of kindy next week. She enjoys art and craft, she can’t get enough of outside play and dressing up and she loves music and dancing… sadly learning her letters is a different story. Just like with her older siblings we’ve turned to the magic of fridge magnets to help her on the way.

LeapFrog‘s Fridge Phonics range has been adorning fridges across the globe for many years. Since its first release little learners have been practising their ABCs with a Fridge Phonics bus, a house, a sun, a pond and other fun shapes and the concept is still successful as ever so why change it? Today’s curious toddlers and preschoolers can master the alphabet with the help of friendly frog Tad.

Tad’s Fridge Phonics (RRP $29.95, Ages 2+) consists of a bright magnetic red apple console and 26 letters magnets. The clever apple recognises each individual letter, just pop the magnet in the letter slot to hear which letter it is, which sound it makes and learn interesting words that start with that specific letter eg. super stinky skunk, luscious lemon lollypop or groovy green guitar.

There are lots of different ways to enjoy and learn with this cool magnetic letter set. Explore what each letter sounds and looks like, learn new words with each letter, find the first letter of your name, put all the letters in alphabetical order, try to make simple words, sing along to the alphabet song, sort the letters by colour, separate the vowels from the consonants and of course practise your fine motor skills while you play!

This year’s Fridge Phonics set also includes 3 new large magnets that celebrate three special people (Dad, Mum and Me) with a series of fun sentences eg. ‘Dad’s a rockstar’, ‘I can do anything’ or ‘Mum is funny’. You can even add a unique touch by sliding a nice photo of your child and each parent into the corresponding magnet, how cute is that?

We’ve been using our old Fridge Phonics set for many years and I can definitely vouch for the versatility (suitable for different ages/stages) and durability. After countless drops and throws our previous set is still going strong, however several letters have gone on an extended holiday along the way hence the upgrade to a full new set. Tad’s Fridge Phonics is guaranteed to keep our last two preschoolers entertained while mum does the kitchen chores.

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

Bop to the Beat with Mixmaster Scout

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Aug 312019
 

As you can probably imagine a busy home like ours is never quiet. As if six children don’t make enough sound, chatter and noise just yet we also have a piano (the four older kids get lessons at home) and three of them are learning the violin too! He may be the smallest of the family but Ted sure enjoys adding his fair share of volume so this musical LeapFrog toy comes in real handy:

The Learn & Groove Mixmaster Scout (RRP $34.95, ages 12-36 months) is the cutest toddler turntable you have ever seen. Future DJs can bop to the beat as they join puppy pal Scout to create their own unique tunes using a range of instruments, rhythms, sounds and background tracks. With colourful buttons to press, switches to flick, wheels to spin and lights to flash the Mixmaster instantly takes your little musician from cot to club.

I’ll admit, at this stage it looks like Ted is mainly out to make as much noise as possible but there is more to Mixmaster Scout than meets the eye. Not only is mixing your own music secretly a fabulous fine-motor skills exercise for chubby toddler hands, kids are also getting a fun and funky introduction to numbers, colours and instruments and learn to sing along to the catchy ABC song and other melodies.

As kids get older they come to understand the cause and effect principle and learn what the different buttons, switches and play modes (alphabet, numbers and colours) do and the sounds they make, giving them more control over their personal toddler tracks. You’re never too young to become a musician, so get those hands clapping and toes tapping with Mixmaster Scout.

The LeapFrog Learn & Groove Mixmaster Scout is now available from Big W, good toy stores across Australia and online.

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

Apr 142017
 

It’s a wrap! With term 1 finally done and dusted we can now look forward to a well deserved Easter break. It’s a perfect opportunity to enjoy a road trip with the family, indulge in a weekend getaway or even just discover some new spots in your local area. If you’re planning to hit the road with your little Teletubbies fan don’t forget to add these to your luggage:

We all know that travelling with kids can be a challenge, but it’s nothing the Teletubbies can’t fix. Featuring 8 exciting app buttons the Teletubbies VTech ‘My 1st Tablet’ (RRP $34.99, 6-36 months) introduces young travellers to music, nature sounds, numbers, letters and much more. They’ll be so busy swiping and tapping the light-up the touch screen and watching eye-catching animations and special light patterns there is no time to get bored!

There is plenty of off-screen Teletubbies fun to be had too, the sturdy Teletubbies ‘Let’s Go Up & Down’ (RRP $12.99) and Teletubbies ‘The Tubby Custard Ride’ (RRP $12.99) board books are ideal for that much-needed quiet time. The bright pictures and simple rhyming text are perfect for infants and toddlers. Curious tots are sure to love pushing, pulling and sliding the many tabs in The Tubby Custard Ride.

Whether it’s a quick nap in the car, a holiday far away from home or just a sleepover at Grandma’s, this soft and cuddly Teletubbies Supersoft Collectible Laa-Laa (RRP $17.99, 18 months+) will help your little one drift off to sleep peacefully. Designed for small hands and gentle against the skin it makes a perfect bedtime buddy, which of the four Teletubbies is your favourite?

Teletubbies books are available from Dymocks, BigW, Booktopia, Leading Edge and all good bookstores.

You can find all your favourite Teletubbies toys at your local Big W, Myer, Target, Toys’R’Us and Toyworld store.

To find out more about Big Balloon, to browse the Teletubbies range and to locate a stockist near you visit www.bigballoon.com.au.

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