Thursday, 27 September 2012

Mothers & Baby Play & Learn Toyologist Review

The Ravensburger Mothers & Babies learning game is a lovely, well made and well illustrated puzzle game which will help children learn while they play. There are 12 sets of mother animals and 12 sets of babies. You simply have to match the parent to their babies (for example the sheep to the lambs) to fit the tight pieces together. It's a lovely way for little ones to learn their animals and all the different baby names. 

My daughter really enjoyed playing it but the matching of the animal pieces was very easy for her. She is approaching 3 and so knows all the babies names and had no problem matching the animals and fitting the puzzles together. She wasn't all the happy about my suggestion we give it to her younger cousin though, "but I really like it" she protested!!

Then we decided to have a look at the games – there are four suggested games to go with it and this is where it becomes more suitable for my daughters age group.

We decided to play swaps where you deal the cards out, see how many pairs you already have, and then take turns to swap cards with each other to see who can match all their pairs first. This was much harder for her to get the idea of but she's catching on and it's good fun and great for her to learn! I think when other friends her age or a little older come round to play we will really enjoy playing the games together.

I think if I was buying it as a gift I would buy for roughly a 2 year old. That way they can get full enjoyment from the puzzle and learning the animals first, and then get even more fun from the games and start learning to play them as they get older. The game will be available soon from Toys R Us., have a look at our photos, they illustrations really are lovely for children aren't they?!

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Melissa & Doug Doorbell House Toyologist Review

My eyes lit up when I saw this one, it's a great idea - basically a little street rolled up into one little box! And it's a pretty little wooden toy, us parents seem to have a thing for wooden toys don't we? Probably more so than the kids!!

It is basically a wooden box done up like a house with four doors and four working doorbells on each door. Each door bell makes a different sound and you will need to get some batteries to get them going! The feature that really sets this aside is that each little door has it's own dainty lock and key. They aren't chunky ones for little fingers and it has taken a little time for my almost 3 year old to get to grips with them. It is fantastic for her coordination though and although she wanted me to do the locks at first she is now learning that with a bit of patience she can do it herself. It is really good for her I think! I like the fact that the keys are more realistic to real keys rather than chunky plastic ones, I'm just worried she will get a bit too good at it and master our front door!! The keys have a subtle number engraved on them which match the numbers on the door and she picked this up straight away and they are attached to the handle of the house so they can't get lost!!

I would say children under 3 would struggle with the locks but you can leave them open and they will happily play with the dolls, doors and doorbells.

You get four dolls with the house, 2 girls and 2 boys which fit neatly behind the doors. I had thought there might be some decoration behind the doors but it's just plain wood. This didn't cause my little girl any disappointment though, she is happy playing house with the dolls. The general story line to her play being they all go round and ring on each others door bells to see if they want to play, they all announce they are too busy sleeping / playing / eating / watching telly, so they all have to go home again... then finally they all decide to go for a sleepover at one of the houses.

I love the imaginative play this little toy encourages, and I love the details in the pictures on the front if the houses. It's a great toy to take along with you if you are going away, you can lock all the dolls in their houses and then carry it easily by the handle. I took it as a surprise toy for my little girl on our camping trip and it worked a treat. We called it her doll's holiday home and she sat and played happily with it while we got things ready.

I would love to be able to buy this for friend's children as a gift as I don't think it's a toy people will have seen and it's such a great idea. It's a bit over my usual gift budget though from what I can gather so that would be my only area for improvement! Otherwise a fab toy and mummy's favourite from the toyologist box!

Watch out for it on Toys R Us shelves as it is coming to stores soon!

Ding dong! Hear a doorbell in action:

Fun with Puzzle-A-Round

Time for another toyologist review and it's another hit - the Peppa Pig Puzzle-A-Round.

I'll take that...
My daughter, like a lot of children absolutely loves puzzles. Plus they are just one of those toys that, as a parent, you really don't mind buying for your, or other peoples children. You can plainly see how much children get out of out of them and so I'm always on the look out for new ones! 

I had noticed similar 3D round puzzles in the shops but to be honest I hadn't considered them. I guess I expected them to be just novelty factor, fiddly and unlikely to stay together. The Puzzle-A-Round has proved me wrong! I actually had no idea how they work – they are very robust being made of shaped plastic pieces which are not going to bend and wear away after you have played with them a couple of times, which is what I had feared.

Squiggle was excited and here is our first attempt in pictures and video.  I did have to read the instructions to start off with to make sure I knew what to do. When I first saw all the pieces I did worry it was going to be a bit difficult for my daughter but she picked it up surprisingly quickly. You can see how she got on working it out from our video at the bottom of the post. She is just a few months off turning 3 and actually this puzzle is the perfect age for her – it challenged her (which you want), but completely held her attention and after giving it a go she was able to do it which of course made her very pleased with herself.

After a few attempts she is now pretty speedy at doing it and knows just what to do! It is recommended for ages 3+ which is about right I would say as younger children may find it a little hard to push all the pieces in properly. Still fun with an adults help though!

What she did find a little difficult were the very top and bottom sections where you are basically piecing together logos. It's a shame they couldn't have just taken the pictures all the way round, she seems to have the hang of it now though!! You build the top and bottom sections in two halves and then twist them together to make the ball. This meant the bottom section has to be built upside down. I thought this would baffle her but no, upside down pigs don't seem to be too much of a problem!!

When the ball is finished you can admire it by placing it on the stand... or if you're my daughter roll it around the house laughing and hide your dinosaurs inside pretending it's their egg!

Honestly this isn't a novelty toy. After we had built it 10 times I mentioned to Daddy that she loved it "I know we've just built it 20 times" came his reply!! She also chose it as her toy of choice to take to Nana's house yesterday and it was a big hit there too.

I have loved watching her play with this and see her mind ticking over while she works it all out. It has really held her concentration and brought her lots of fun. I would happily buy it for a birthday gift for another child or as a stocking filler. Peppa Pig Puzzle-A-Round will be available in Toys R Us soon so watch out for it!

Monday, 24 September 2012

Make some noise for the Raa Raa playset

Today was one of those indoor days. We were trapped in by the weather, both feeling under the weather and it seemed the perfect moment to review the Raa Raa the Noisy Lion interactive playset – thank goodness we did! It really did bring some excitement and fun into our house today.

My little girl has watched and enjoyed Raa Raa the Noisy Lion and recognised the show straight away when she saw the box – her little eyes lit up which always make mummy very happy. I could see it was much more than she had expected when I told her we had a new toy to try out.

The set has some great features, it comes with a Raa Raa figure, tree house, car and some little drums. The figure has a little hole underneath which means he fits easily into the car, the sound buttons and the swing. The swing was a particular hit with my little girl!

There are two noise points on the set, when you press RaaRaa down near the door he says various phrases which your little one will recognise. When you press him down near the car canopy it makes the noise of the cubby car starting up and the tree shade zooms up the string. We loved this, I wasn't expecting the palm leaves to move and Squiggle played with this and the cubby car over and over.

The fun sound effects aside, I think the real fun is in the tree house – it's much more than a Raa Raa toy! Very well made and hardy for play it makes a great base for all your child's small toys to climb ladders, play house, go for a swing and have a great time. My daughter's monkey have already been knocking on Raa Raa's door, swinging on the trees and going for sleep overs on Raa Raa's little bed. Her toys have also been having lots of fun playing hide and seek around the tree. 

From the box it looks like you can buy other characters to add to the fun (something my little one quickly spotted!!) which I'm sure would be great for Raa Raa fans. Even though it's based around a television programme it encourages roll play and imagination for stories beyond the animated ones they have already seen.

It has kept my daughter happy all day and I'm sure for a lot longer, I'm surprised by how much I like it too! Everybody that has been to visit has been taken to play with this toy, she is so please with it and it has brought lots of fun. 

You can get a better idea of the interactive features in our video... take a look and see what you think!

What I used to save for

I was talking to a friend who's 4 year old daughter received so much birthday money, she opened her a bank account and she's now stocking up those savings to use redecorate her bedroom in a years time. I  thought this was such a lovely idea, I still remember opening my first bank account and how much I enjoyed saving those pennies.

This got me reminiscing about all the things I've saved up for along the way. It makes for a lovely list of memories, in particular the memory of the pride and excitement I felt when I reached my goals! Here's my savings memory list:

Ice cream and souvenir money for holidays

A Sindy doll kitchen

Bermuda shorts from the market

Getting my ears pierced

DMs and an army surplus bag for school

Tickets to see REM at my first solo concert with friends

A velvet jacket

Floorboards for my bedroom

An ultra classy holiday with friends to Benidorm (after a long summer working for £2.90 per hour!)

The end of school girl's holiday to Tenerife


Inter-railing around Europe

An amazing New York art trip

Glastonbury tickets

My first car (I still have it!)

A deposit on a house with my future husband

Our magical honeymoon

Maternity leave

... And then we hit babies and spending lol, I guess that's a whole other post! Do you remember what you used to save for before every penny started to count for so much? What is the first big thing you remember saving up for?

Please note this is a sponsored post but all the ideas and words are my own

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

'Baby Annabell doll' and 'Baby Annabell Bed with Lullaby' Toyologist reviews

Why we've been going gaga for her!

We have been busy playing again... This time with baby Annabell and the baby Annabell bed with Lullaby.

When I pulled these toys out of the box Squiggle was very excited, the pressure was on me to get them out of their packaging as she stood over me demanding I do it faster!!

We got the cot out first and she absolutely loved helping me put it together. It's really easy to assemble - no screwing needed! She loved the little bedding set which consists of a blanket, sheet and pillow, and she was giggling that everything had sheep on. She was most excited though by the fact the cot had it's own mobile (you will need a screwdriver here to add the batteries). She was over the moon pushing the button and playing the little tune on it (which has sheep baaing through it!).

Then we got Baby Annabelle out, I was really interested to see how she'd go down with my little girl as she's never really shown much interest in her baby dolls. She has always refused to put them in her pram, opting to take penguin or giraffe for a walk instead! Straight away she was a lot more taken by this doll and I think it's mainly down to the interactivity of it. I find some dolls slightly freaky but she's actually got a really nice little face!

She's a very clever little doll, when you give her the dummy or her sheep bottle (both included in the set) her cheeks actually move along with the sounds so it really looks like she is sucking or drinking. My little girl loved this, she spent a long time running back and forward to the cloakroom sink to fill the bottle with water and give her another drink. It was very cute to watch, she was tucking her up in her cot, giving her a bottle and then turning the mobile on to get her off to sleep. Baby Annabell laughs, cries and sleeps and I have spotted my little girl singing her little lullabies along with the music to help her drift of to lullaby land.

I have four nieces who are all older than my little girl and have all gone through phases of baby Annabell obsession. I think from this I was a bit of an Annabell sceptic and wasn't sure why she was any different from any other dolls... but now we know! She is well made, lovable, has features that bring out the caring side of my little girl, and most of all she is actually getting played with! She had a 4 year old friend round to play recently and she absolutely fell in love with both the cot and the doll and kept wishing she had one herself. It's great that it's suitable for older children and so will hopefully stand the test of time!

If you are on the look out for a baby doll for your little one to love and take care of I would really recommend this toy. Have a little look at our video to get an idea of some of the features and see the smile on my daughter's face!

Monday, 10 September 2012

No messing, just fun! Princess Aquadoodle review

So we've opened possibly the most exciting box to ever land on our doorstep and it's time to start our Toyologist reviews!

I was delighted to be sent an Aquadoodle to review, and what could be even better, a Cinderella one! My little girl does have a very girly streak in her and loves a princess so I knew this would go down well. In her own words when I showed it to her she said... "my new toy is magnificent"... that's a bit of a tongue twister for a toddler. 

The set comes with an Aquadoodle mat, a Cinderella print maker and a water pen. You simply fill the pen with water and place Cinderella under the tap to get going, so simple! If you add water to the mat it turns pink, just like magic. Squiggle loved drawing her pictures and then watching them dry in the sun, ready to start again. She overloaded Cinderella with water the first time but when we got used to it you roll her along and she makes a little heart pattern.

The box says 'no mess' so I was interested to see if it was true. I've tried no mess arty options before and tried leaving her with a water colouring book once – it was a disaster as there was blue water everywhere. This is not the case with the Princess Aquadoodle, I can honestly say it is 100% mess free, hurrah, perfect for silly mums like me who have cream carpets! It also requires no batteries or assembling and won't run out, you just add more water... this is the kind of easy toy I love.

The fun continued with the Aquadoodle today – the sun was shining so we had the paddling pool out  – my little artist was dipping her toys in the water and then using them to make prints on the mat, this soon turned into footprints and was great fun. I think the only thing for us that could have made it even more fun would have been a larger mat, but saying that this smaller size makes it really neat to fold away and store.

My little girl loves her new Aquadoodle and very sweetly asked if she could keep it, it's a fantastic addition to the toy box. It also makes a great guilt free gift as you know your not sending any mess and chaos into anyone's house!

If you'd like to see the Aquadoodle at work take a look at our little video. I am so sorry it is on it's side but you get the idea... I promise future videos will be the right way up!!

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

From cot to bed and how to remove a head

We have finally plucked up the courage and turned Squiggle's cot into a bed and taken off the sides. She turns 3 in a few months and I know most people would be surprised we hadn't done it sooner! She has always been happy in her cot but it was getting to the point where she was becoming too heavy for me to lift in. Also when going away or staying at people's houses she is really a bit too big to sleep in a travel cot now so we wanted to get her used to beds.

She's been very excited about it all which has meant some long evenings for us! After about 5 minutes we usually hear the light turn on, then the door creaking, followed by footsteps and then a little face peeking round the door with the biggest pleased as punch grin you have ever seen. We are averaging about a 9pm sleep time at the moment, but we'll get there!

The biggest stress came last night... of all the bed related things I had worried about, this wasn't one. I heard her calling me at about 3am, weird I thought because she normally just jumps straight out of her room and shouts up the stairs if she wakes up. Maybe she's really tired and will just go back to sleep I thought. I decided I better check on her and thank goodness because the poor little thing had rolled out of bed, then half under it and got her head stuck. I had to twist it on its side and pull it out. I was surprised she wasn't a bit traumatised but she just told me quite matter of factly what had happened and happily got back in bed. I was really worried and couldn't sleep after that, what If I hadn't heard her and she'd been unable to breathe?

These things are so scary, the whole bed thing has scared me quite a lot in general, I go to sleep every night with that feeling that my little girl is vulnerable. Am I neurotic?

I stuffed some giant floor cushions under the bed last night which have jammed the gap but I'll have to come up with a better solution!

Has anyone else find the swap hard, everyone seemed to tell me it was easy peasey before we did it!!