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Posts Tagged ‘toys’

Starting last summer, V started to show a real interest in taking photographs. Our crummy point & shoot is broken, so we mainly use my husbands work camera which is a pretty expensive DSLR. Obviously, I get nervous with it in the hands of a toddler. So for V’s birthday this year we bought her a Vtech Kidzoom camera.

I hate it.

First, let me say that we are a pretty low income family so at 60.00 this was a big purchase for us. I thought it would be worth it because she was showing such a keen interest in photography & if there’s one thing I always want to do for my children, it’s foster their creative side. When the camera arrived, I was so excited to give it to her that we ended up giving it to her early, thinking if we did, she could take pictures of her new baby sister when she came. The camera body itself is very sturdy but here is my beef: It has video games on it.

I can handle the crappy resolution of the camera (it’s actually terrible), that’s fine. It’s not like she’s Nan Goldin or anything. But as soon as she discovered the video games on it, that’s all she wanted to use it for. If I wanted her to play video games, I would have bought her a freaking Gameboy. I personally, don’t want V playing video games until she is much older. I know Vtech likes to deem them ‘educational’ but in my opinion, I’d rather have her using her own imagination then being a mindless drone at 3 years old.

I am so disappointed in this camera. What’s worse is that we can’t afford to replace it. She found it this morning, took 3 pictures & went right to the video games. It breaks my heart that I have to a) take her birthday gift away from her and b) know that I wasted 60 bucks on a video game system disguised as a camera. I thought I had done a pretty good job researching kid’s cameras….why should I assume they’d stick video games on a camera. Ugh. The better options seem to be the following:

Discovery Kids Digital Kids Camera (this one doesn’t have the greatest reviews, but it’s a cheaper option)

Fisher-Price Kid-Tough Digital Camera (I think maybe next year this will be the one we get V)

I guess we’ll have to wait until her next birthday to find out.

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I have always loved PLAYMOBIL. Always. I remember going to friends houses when I was small and being envious of their collections. Now that I have children of my own, it is my mission to expose them to PLAYMOBIL toys. They are great teaching toys and have almost *any* theme you can think of so the possibilities are endless. I’m not kidding, they even have Gauls.

V is just starting to get into imaginary play and it’s important to me that her play also has substance. Last year we bought her a dollhouse, with furniture but no family. We’ve slowly been adding to it and she loves the single figurines by PLAYMOBIL. Every once in a while we take he to this little toy shop off of the island & we’ll get her a figure for her dollhouse (we like her to have a diverse family…). She always picks a PLAYMOBIL figure. The best part about these toys is that no matter what, they always spark a conversation. The last figure she got was a Lady vet w/ a horse, so we talked all about vets & horses. We must spend a good 30 minutes in the PLAYMOBIL section of this store just talking about all of the different ‘people’.

Last week, V got her first PLAYMOBIL toy. I was just about as excited (if not more) than she was. Jesse & I poured through the catalogs wishing we could buy her everything as we waited for school to end. We gave her the Deep Sea Diving Bell when she got home. She loved it and of course needed to take it into the tub immediately. It was easy to put together and it’s insanely sturdy. I watched her in the tub with this diving bell, it was so amazing to see her play with it and incorporate all of her other bath toys into the scene. It’s one of the handful of toys that has totally sparked the imagination in her. Really, she’s been lowering it off the bed ‘into the ocean’ for days now & we’ve been talking about the ocean a lot. Of course it helps that we live right near one!

This holiday season PLAYMOBIL is curious as to how you might or already do use PLAYMOBIL toys to create ‘teaching moments’. These could range from teaching about numbers by counting the pieces of a toy to teaching what doctors do and how hospitals help people using the PLAYMOBIL Hospital set. They have kindly provided me with a Shark Diver & Divers in Tropical Reef to give away to two readers. To enter, leave a comment on how you would do so with any of the PLAYMOBIL toys on their website. I will choose two winners at random on Dec 17th so you can have it before the holidays (hopefully!). Tweet about this giveaway, follow PLAYMOBIL on Twitter or become a fan on Facebook and you’ll get an extra entry for each!

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Green Toys

I remember the first item I saw from Green Toys was their Sand Play Set and I thought, Oh my God, someone *finally* made a bucket with a decent handle! I had no idea that they’d end up being way more awesome than that. Started by Robert von Goeben & Laurie Hyman, Green Toys are made from 100% recycled plastic milk jugs and are made in California. I can’t even tell you how psyched I am when I find products that are made here in the USA. Transportation is one of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gasses so the less miles your items travel, the better. Every pound of recycled milk jugs that Green Toys uses saves energy equal to 3,000 AAA batteries, enough electricity to power a TV set for 3 weeks & enough electricity to keep a laptop running for a month. Now that’s a good toy company!

V has been playing with the Green Toys Dish Set and she is totally obsessed with drinking out of the teacups. They’ve made an excellent addition to her play kitchen/tea set and we can even use them for real-live snacks. I love the texture of them, light but sturdy, and the colors are great. We’ve been ‘cooking’ up a storm and having tea parties galore now that V has proper china to serve on. They’re also a million times easier to wash than some of her wooden cookware.

Green Toys also offers a tea set, toolbox, jump rope & recycling truck to name a few. They’re all great I’m sure. I’ll definitely invest in more Green Toys, I’m a stickler when it comes to buying things that are good for V and that will hold up to toddler play. I really like knowing where her toys come from & what they are made out of. Green Toys gives me the ability to do just that & I think they are awesome for it! Please visit & check out the rest of their great stuff here.

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Wheely Bee – PVC Free!

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If you haven’t seen Prince Lionheart’s line of Wheely Bugs, you are totally missing out. I snatched one of these up for Christmas when V was just over a year and she’s still scooting around on it a year and a half later. Only now she yells “Wheee……Bee”!

Wheely Bugs come in two sizes, Small & Large and three different styles, Ladybug, Cow & Bee. They have a 50 lb. weight limit and have won countless toy awards. The Wheely Bee is a nice, light, modern, soft shelled ride-on toy. I love it mostly because it’s completely non-toxic and PVC free! There’s a 1″ layer of foam underneath the PU covering which is super duper easy to clean (a big help when dealing with messy toddlers) and it’s got a renewable plywood base. The multidirectional castors move with ease and it works well indoors & out. V uses hers inside, it’s nice and quiet and it doesn’t wreck our floors. We have the small size which still suits V well at 2 1/2. I have a feeling when little sister arrives she’ll inherit the small one & we’ll get V the large size. It’s held up amazingly under all kinds of abuse, it still looks brand new.

Another toy I am totally pleased with, as I’m a big fan of toys that are sturdy and have a very long life. Yay!

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Plan Toys Dollhouse

Contemporary Dollhouse from Plan Toys

I’ve been wanting to buy Violet a dollhouse for about a year now & I can’t say if that’s more because I’ve always wanted one or not. However, dollhouses are kind of expensive so I’ve been taking my time trying to find the right one for the right price.

Enter a bored me cruising around one of my favorite places to “window shop”, The Land of Nod. LON is Crate & Barrel’s kids branch, and they have an outlet section! It was there that I stumbled upon the Plan Toys Contemporary Dollhouse for more 100.00 off it’s usual retail price. I couldn’t believe it, they had the furniture set on sale too! Of course I had to buy it, can you blame me?

Firstly, the Plan Toys brand is one that I really love & trust, they are an award winning ‘green’ company committed to excellency & they do a very nice job pulling it off. They provide a huge selection of excellent environmentally friendly toys for children of all ages. It’s worth perusing their website for not only their great toys but they offer up a lot of information about the company itself, which is always a huge plus to me. I like knowing about where V’s playthings come from & if the people making them are good guys, you know?

I was hoping to be able to squirrel the dollhouse away until V’s birthday in October, but once I had it in my hot little hands, *I* wanted to open it, so I caved and let her have it. The house itself was super easy to put together, two halves & the floor, I think the total was 4 screws. The wood is super smooth and I love the colored panels; two slide, two are to be used as room partitions and there are panels in the skylights & the staircase. The furniture is so cute, with a modern flair and pretty sturdy for dollhouse furniture. I love that the open floor plan allows for imagination in the set up of the house and also makes for a good amount of room for hands. The dollhouse stands about 21″ high, which is a nice medium size. It’s big enough without taking over the living room and it’s really light so it’s very portable.

I am so happy that we scored this dollhouse. Violet adores it and plays with it for a fair amount of time every day. We don’t have a proper Plan Toys family for it but so far Brobee, a Luchador, Bert, Swiper & a Playmobil British Soldier crash there. There are tons of cute accessories & families you can get for the Plan Toys dollhouse, like a baby nursery, pets or even patio furniture. The possibilities are endless.

You can still get the house (not the furniture set) at Land of Nod for only 49.95, a total bargain! They’re also in the middle of a big Summer Sale so make sure you stop by.

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