Showing posts with label toy review. Show all posts
Showing posts with label toy review. Show all posts

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Toy Review: Puzzles

Puzzles are a great educational toy. There are a lot of different types of puzzles. Here are some that we have.

Peg Puzzles

Melissa & Doug Deluxe Jungle Friends (Safari) Jumbo Knob

Melissa & Doug Deluxe Jungle Friends (Safari) Jumbo Knob

This is a great one for the younger crowd. The knobs on this puzzle are very large (relative to pegs), which makes it easy for little hands to grasp.
I would highly recommend this for children 18 months and younger. Melissa and Doug make these puzzles with barn animals, vehicles, shapes, water animals, pets, etc.

Melissa & Doug Farm Sound Puzzle

Melissa & Doug Farm Sound Puzzle
Peg puzzles are great for young children. These peg puzzles are great for your child as soon as she develops her pincher grasp. You can find these puzzles from all sorts of companies and with all sorts of themes. Something fun about this one from Melissa and Doug is that when you put the animal in the right spot, it makes the appropriate animal noise.

Chunky Puzzles
Melissa & Doug Deluxe Wooden Safari Chunky Puzzle

Melissa & Doug Deluxe Wooden Safari Chunky Puzzle
We don't own this yet, but are getting it for McKenna for Christmas so I thought I would tell you about it to take into consideration as you think about puzzles. The fun thing about these puzzles are that the animals can stand on their own for further play. I will let you know how the kids like it; I think it will be a hit.

Touch and Feel
Melissa & Doug Farm Touch and Feel Puzzle
Melissa & Doug Farm Touch and Feel Puzzle
This is one we don't have, but I love the concept and wanted to make sure you know about it. Touch and feel puzzles! They sound fun.

Learning Puzzles
Melissa & Doug Shapes - Chunky PuzzleYou can find all sorts of puzzles to promote letter learning, numbers, shapes, hands, feet, etc. We have an alphabet puzzle made by Leap Frog. I can't find it anywhere, so it might be discontinued. Most alphabet puzzles are quite similar.

Sound Puzzles

Melissa & Doug Fire Truck Sound Puzzle

Melissa & Doug Fire Truck Sound PuzzleMelissa and Doug also make a lot of sound puzzles. Brayden has this one. When you complete the puzzle, it makes the siren sound of a fire truck. We also have the farm peg puzzle listed above.

Cube Puzzles

Melissa & Doug Pets Cube Puzzle

Melissa & Doug Pets Cube Puzzle
I really like these puzzles. They don't require fine motor skills so much as analytical skills. You can make several different pictures with the one puzzle. Your child has to look at small details to figure out which side of the cube goes to the puzzle he is trying to complete, and then where it goes.

Jigsaw Puzzles
Vehicles Jigsaw Puzzles in a Wooden Box

Vehicles Jigsaw Puzzles in a Wooden Box
Thispuzzle is comes with four puzzles. The pieces all fit in the box and you can complete the puzzle on the lid. This is a great puzzle to take with you when you travel. We took ours with us one time when we went camping this summer, and I was glad we did. It rained and rained one morning and the kids did puzzles. Each picture has a certain shape on the back of its pieces, so you know which pieces go with which picture.

Prehistoric Sunset Puzzle by Melissa & Doug

Prehistoric Sunset Puzzle by Melissa & Doug
A nice thing about this typ eof 24 piece puzzle by Melissa and Doug is that it has a border around the edge. It is a great beginning jigsaw for your child. You can also get this style in 48 piece.

Melissa & Doug USA Map 51 pcs Floor Puzzle

Melissa & Doug USA Map 51 pcs Floor Puzzle
Floor puzzles are another fun aspect to puzzles.

Feel free to share puzzles you love!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Best Toys for PreToddler: 12-18 Months Update

I have a few toys to add for this age range. These are toys McKenna got for her first birthday and we have really enjoyed them. To see my previous recommendations for this age group, see Best Toys for PreToddler: 12-18 Months. See also toy review posts.

Little Tikes Cozy Coupe Car

This is one of those toys I always wished I had when I was a kid but never got. By my third child, my wish came true :). This coupe was McKenna's gift from my parents for her birthday. The great thing about this coupe is that there is a floor you can put in so a younger pretoddler can have her feet up. Then she can be pushed around (best done by siblings if she has them :) ) and not get feet hurt. For the bigger kids, the floor is easily removed and they can drive around all by themselves. This is a classic and fun toy.

Hasbro Playskool Busy Ball Popper
This is a toy that many of you raved about in comments in previous posts. When my in-laws asked what they could get for McKenna for her birthday, I thought this would be a great option! And it has been. It has been lots of fun for all three kids. I, like many of you, would highly recommend this toy. Lots of laughs and squeals of delight have come about because of this toy.

Manhattan Toy Baby Stella Doll
I saved my favorite for last. This is one of those things I want to rave about but like it so much I can't find the words. A reader recommended this doll. As I was combing through, I noticed the doll had a perfect rating, rave reviews, and ranks 22 in baby toys and 30 in toddler toys. A popular toy. I decided it was worth a shot and ordered it for McKenna's birthday. This doll is perfect for the little ones. There is nothing dangerous on the doll. McKenna gets to keep this with her in her bed, and I daily see her hugging, kissing, holding, and talking with this doll. She loves it. Absolutely the perfect doll for the younger crowd. The pacifier is magnetic, so it doesn't require fine motor control to get it in the mouth. They also make accessories for Baby Stella and make older versions of Baby Stella (a doll that looks more like a pretoddler). This is a doll you can stick with.

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Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Best Toys: Board Games!

I love playing games, so I get great enjoyment from playing games with my children. We have a tradition to get a new game each Christmas. Games are great because there is a lot of educational value with them. Here is the list of games we have and my review of them.


I love Candyland. I loved it as a child and love it now. This game teaches colors, counting, taking turns, and following rules. It requires no skills at all. This was the first game Brayden played and the first game Kaitlyn played. They both started at age two.

Worth Owning? Yes! I would recommend this as your very first game.

Hi Ho Cherry-O

Hi Ho Cherry-O is another game I have fond memories of from childhood. This game teaches counting, following rules, and taking turns. This is my favorite game for practicing math skills. Kaitlyn, at 2.5, still doesn't really play this correctly. She doesn't have the patience for it yet. She loves playing with it, but not playing it. I believe we got this when Brayden was 3.5 and he did great at that age.

Worth Owning. Big YES! This is my favorite kids board game.

Chutes and Ladders

I loved Chutes and Ladders as a child, also. Brayden really enjoys it at 4.5 and has for about a year. It teaches numbers and taking turns. You can also use the situations in the game to teach about morals, "Oh. He stole a cookie from the cookie jar. He has to go back. It isn't good to take things without asking." It also can be a good, low-stakes way for your child to get used to disappointment when he is about to win and gets sent to the beginning of the game. Similarly, it helps teach parents patience :)

Worth Owning? Yes, I think this is worth the own, but I would put lots of games ahead of it. I also wouldn't even try to play it until they were at least 3. 4 or 5 would be even better. The board is kind of confusing for the non-reader.

Don't Break the Ice

Don't Break the Ice is a game I never had as a child, but my husband and I thought it looked fun and looked like a game even young children could enjoy. Kaitlyn loved to play it even before she turned two. This game teaches taking turns and can work on fine motor skills and engineering skills if played correctly. No matter how you play it, it is a game the whole family can play together.

Worth Owning? Yes, this is worth it even just to have a game for everyone to play together. Be aware that it is challenging for adults to get all of the blocks put in place, so it won't be a game you have your kids play alone while you go do something else. And the blocks get knocked out quickly, which means lots of resetting up.


This is a recent addition for us. Cootie teaches taking turns, patience, fine motor skills, and counting. My children get great enjoyment from this game. This is a game they can play without my help. They love to build their bugs and play with them. A two year old can play this with supervision.

Worth owning? It really isn't my favorite game we have, but the kids like it, so yes, it is worth owning. But there are a lot of other games I would get first.

Leap Frog Bingo

I have never used an item from Leap Frog that I didn't love. Leap Frog Bingo is no different. I might be a nerd, but I love bingo. It teaches listening/paying attention skills, patience, and works on focusing skills. Leap Frog bingo throws in skills with colors, shapes, animals, numbers, letters, and math. It can be played with a variety of age groups.

Worth Owning? Absolutely! This is a very educational game that is fun.

Hungry Hungry Hippos

Hungry Hungry Hippos is the game we got for this past Christmas. It teaches counting. It honestly is not the easiest thing for a young child to work. The hippos easily get stuck and this could prove frustrating for certain toddlers. Kaitlyn does just fine, but I am sure it would have caused great distress in Brayden's life at age two. This is a game the whole family can play (well, whole family of four), as well the kids without mom and dad's help.

Worth Owning? Yes, but it would be further down on my list. If you are lacking space in your house, you might not want this game. This is a game you set up and never put back in the box because it won't fit. But this is a game Brayden (4.5) and his friends really enjoy playing with each other.


Let's Go Fishin

Let's Go Fishin is a game I honestly don't get a big thrill from. However, the kids enjoy it. It works fine motor skills--even for adults. You could also make it more of a challenge and assign each player a color or something like that to add learning colors to the mix.

Worth Owning? Yes. It is a game younger children can attempt to play. The whole family of four can play at the same time and the kids can play without help from adults.


Silly Faces Stick-Ons Game

Silly Faces Stick-Ons Game was a game from my parents this year. My mom said she loved to play with colorforms as a kid. This is a fun game. It teaches turn taking and promotes creativity. You get a face, then spin to get eyes, mouth, nose, hat, etc. It is a similar concept to cootie. I like this one better than Cootie because the kids can put the face together alone, and Kaitlyn can't do Cootie alone with a lot of the pieces.

Worth Owning? Yes. I always like the games that the two children can play with each other without lots of help from us.


Trouble Board Game

Trouble Board Game is a game for the older preschooler if he is good at taking turns, patient enough for a possibly long game, and good with numbers. Kaitlyn is currently too young for this, but Brayden really enjoys it.

Worth Owning? Yes, if your child meets the criteria and you like to play games. This is a game your young child will need an adult to play with.


Original Memory

Memory is Kaitlyn's favorite game. She can play it over and over, and she is really good at it. She typically is the winner of the game--without anyone taking it easy on her. It teaches memory, attention skills, and patience! Kaitlyn has a hard time keeping quiet when she knows there is a match.

Worth Owning? Definitely.

There you have it! You really can't go wrong with these games. They have been around forever, and I think it is because they are good games. As you build your collect, try to vary skills they teach. Also, vary the games that require a lot of thought along with games that are basically just fun--although even the fun ones do offer some skills learned.

We have a lot of games because we play games often. Here is my attempt at a list of ordering them from favorite to not. It is hard because it depends on age, but I will do my best to put them in my personal list of best to not-best (I don't want to say worst because I love them all).

  1. Candyland--I am putting this first because it can be played by various ages.
  2. Hi-Ho Cherrio
  3. Memory
  4. Leapfrog Bingo
  5. Trouble
  6. Chutes and Ladders
  1. Let's Go Fishin'
  2. Colorforms Silly Face 
  3. Don't Break The Ice
  4. Cootie
  5. Hungry Hungry Hippo


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