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.

To the rescue with LeapFrog

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Nov 292019
 

Dump trucks, cherry pickers, buses, motorbikes, ambulances, diggers… Ted loves them all! Unlike many other young children Ted thoroughly enjoys car trips and is easily entertained by spotting all kinds of transportation. At home he has his own collection of cool vehicles to play with too, with this funky firetruck being his new favourite:

Emergency, emergency! The bright red Tumbling Blocks Fire Engine (RRP $49.95, ages 1.5-4 years) is always on standby to help a desperate toddler in need of distraction. Siren? Check! Flashing lights? Check! Ladder? Check! Water hose? Check! Get your fire fighting gear on and get ready for a rescue mission that is both exciting and educational at the same time.

Created by the learning experts at LeapFrog this emergency vehicle is packed with educational features, helping playful toddlers develop important skills whilst having fun. Sounds and songs, letters and lights, buttons and blocks, wheels and words, if you’re looking for a quality, versatile Christmas gift that will be enjoyed long after Boxing Day this is it.

There’s a fire at the Bakery, send help! There’s a cat stuck in a tree, to the rescue! Firefighters Scout and Violet are on their way to yet another incident and could do with a helping hand, let’s give the engine a push and get started. Kids can turn on the siren and flashing lights, turn the hose reel and check the water gage to hear the corresponding number.

Knowing your ABCs is a must for any good firefighter. The five coloured blocks represent all 26 letters of the alphabet, 26 different animals as well as 4 types of emergency vehicles. Simply pop the interactive block in the driver’s window to learn more about the letter, the sound and the picture of your choice. Using the music button kids can also hear and sing along to several alphabet themed songs and other catchy tunes.

Ted’s favourite part of the Tumbling Blocks Fire Engine is by far the tumbling ladder mechanism: When you push the ladder down it automatically ‘picks up’ the next animal block and when you lift the ladder up the block tumbles down back into the truck and repeat. It’s like magic! Super easy to do for little hands and virtually fail-proof, this is a brilliant design feature that brings endless joy to curious toddlers.

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

Do the Dino Dance

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Nov 242019
 

VTech

After five girls it seems I had totally forgotten how loud, cheeky and active little boys can be. Ted has turned into a big, boisterous two year old who never sits still. He loves noise (he has the deepest, booming boy voice already!) and is always stamping, dancing and singing which is why this colourful VTech character made a perfect gift for him:

When you first spot the triangle, round and square pegs you might briefly think this is just another ordinary shape sorting toy, but you could not be more wrong… This cool walking, talking and dancing Learn & Dance Dino (RRP $49.95, ages 2-5) offers epic entertainment in more ways than you would think!

Measuring an impressive 30cm tall and 35cm long this large green dinosaur has a ‘shape sorter’ back with three coloured spots where his spikes should be. Each spot sports a different colour, is a different shape and has a different effect, time to add the magic spikes! Once you successfully match the correct spike with the right ‘hole’ your dinosaur will suddenly come alive…

The yellow triangle pegs represent three emotions (happy, sleepy and angry), the red circle pegs trigger three personalities (Dino, Robot and Monster) and the blue square pegs activate three different music styles (marching, hiphop and ballet). In a perfect example of the cause and effect principle your child can handpick each peg and watch dino reward their choices with a fun display of song, dance and sentences.

Dance alongside a sleepy ballet monster, stomp after an angry marching robot or bust some moves with a happy hiphop dinosaur, it’s all possible! Between the nine different pegs kids are able to create 27 unique combinations, what a fantastic sneaky introduction to coding! The dance moves train gross motor skills, the music pegs introduce children to catchy music styles and the three emotions teach children about different feelings eg. ‘Let’s practise calming down, take a deep, deep breath’ ‘When you smile it makes me happy’.

Even young children can press the chunky light-up buttons to hear colours, shapes and phrases or turn the switch to swap between singing or talking, giving them a feeling of independence and control over their new dino friend. Handy accessory: When not in use the coloured pegs can be neatly stored in the big orange dinosaur egg.

You can find VTech’s Learn & Dance Dino at your local Target, Kmart, 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.

Forest Fun with ZoomiZooz

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Oct 192019
 

As fun as it is to have all six children at home on holidays, it is also nice to get back into the school routine and have a slightly quieter house during the day. During the holidays all the kids usually play together, but term 4 has begun so it’s back to preschool play for the two little ones. Ted and Hattie got very spoilt for their birthday a few weeks ago and they are now really enjoying all their fabulous new toys like this great set by ZoomiZooz:

What are Zoomizooz, you ask? These colourful collectable characters have just zoomed their way into Australian toy stores and are quickly bowling over curious pre-schoolers with their fun antics and adventures. On their own they roll, tumble and wobble but the real magic happens when you combine them with one of the ZoomiZooz play sets…

The big ZoomiZooz Tree House (RRP $79.95, ages 1-5) is the perfect home for a busy ZoomiZooz family. The little ZoomiZooz can go up and down in the lift, swirl down the spiral slide or even travel down the cool rope bridge on a magnetic ZoomiZooz seat. With levers to lift, buttons to press, doors to open and much more there is plenty to discover and try for small hands.

All over the Tree House you’ll find clever interactive spots that trigger more than 80 sounds, songs and sentences. There’s even a Magic ZoomiZone that recognises every single ZoomiZooz character eg. ‘Hi, I’m Koala’, ‘Can you put Tiger on the Magic ZoomiZone?’ ‘Hooray! I’m Tiger, roar!’, ‘I’m a cute cat, meow. My eyes are big and shiny’ and many more. Seeing/hearing that their actions (of putting an animal on the ZoomiZone) bring on a response is very rewarding to young children making this is a very popular feature.

As you can tell it gets pretty noisy in this animal kingdom! Parents will be pleased to know there are two volume levels so you can adjust the sound as needed. Whether it’s training those fine motor skills, encouraging pretend play, practising cause and effect or introducing animal names and sounds, ZoomiZooz are full of learning fun. Ted likes a bit of fast-paced action so he loves watching the ZoomiZoos tumble down the rope bridge and sending them on the spiral slide as speedy as they can go.

The ZoomiZooz Tree House comes with four different animal friends (a cow, tiger, cat and monkey) but of course the more is always the merrier. There are currently 4 ZoomiZooz Play Sets and 24 different animal friends to collect (available in single, three or six pack) so you can build your ZoomiZooz world at your own pace. Hip Tip: The cute animal packs make a fantastic budget-friendly stocking filler for a young ZoomiZooz fan!

The ZoomiZooz range is now available at Target, Big W, good toy stores across Australia and selected online retailers.

To find out more about ZoomiZooz, to take a closer look at the range and to locate a stockist near you visit www.vtech.com.au.

‘Wonky Fruit & Vegetables’ giveaway

 Eco, Giveaways, Toys, Books & Movies  Comments Off on ‘Wonky Fruit & Vegetables’ giveaway
Sep 162019
 

I’m sure by now you’ve all spotted the Coles ‘I’m Perfect’ fresh produce range and the ‘Odd Bunch’ section at Woolworths, but here’s a delightfully different alternative you’ve (most likely) not heard of before:

Dutch social enterprise Kromkommer (Krom means crooked, Komkommer means cucumber) has joined forces with sustainable play specialist and multiple award-winner Plan Toys to bring funky formed fruit and vegetables to toy kitchens around the globe. Grab a quirky apple and bumpy pear, add a two-legged carrot and heart-shaped tomato, throw in a curvy cucumber and you’ve got the Wonky Fruit & Vegetable Playset.

The Wonky Fruit & Vegetables Playset (RRP $50.99, 18 months+) is a powerful platter in many ways: It encourages children to use their imagination and grow social skills during pretend play, it helps budding chefs to develop fine motor skills as they cut their food with the (toddler-safe) toy knife, it stimulates logical thinking as kids match the food halves to make pairs, it teaches children about different fruits and vegetables and the importance of healthy eating habits AND it shows them that fruit and vegetables come in many perfectly imperfect shapes that are all tasty and worthy!

Loved and cherished across the globe Plan Toys are made from replenishable rubberwood which is preservative free and naturally processed. No harmful additives or colourings are used during manufacturing and the carefully selected water-based paints are safety certified, making Plan Toys a fantastic sustainable choice for modern eco-conscious parents. After all we all know pretend meals sometimes involve real bites or cheeky chomps and your child’s safety is Plan Toys’ priority.

Australian families can find the Wonky Fruit & Vegetable Playset at Knock On Wood ToysThe Coffee Apple, Amazon and Twigs Toy Boutique. Enjoy your meal!

To find out more about Plan Toys, to take a closer look at the Wonky Fruit & Vegetable Playset and to locate a stockist near you visit www.plantoys.com.

For your chance to win a Wonky Fruit & Vegetables Playset (RRP $50.99) hop on over to the Hip Little One Facebook page to enter, good luck.