Review: Little Tikes Activity Garden

Review: Little Tikes Activity Garden

It sits a little uncomfortably with me how much my kiddies love this toy. I’m a lover of slow toys made with natural, sustainable materials. So far for B’s 1st birthday I’ve bought her a xylophone and Robinia blocks from the lovely Myriad Toys. They arrived yesterday and are beautiful….

…I digress. I console myself that if we must have a large plastic toy in the middle of our living room at least it’s a very much loved and played with bit of plastic. To be fair Little Tikes don’t rate too badly on the ethical front anyway. Ethical Consumer gives MGA Entertainment an Ethiscore of 14/20 which is actually really high!!! Good news for all those Baby Born’s and Baby Annabel’s out there as it’s the same company behind them. However, I admit this was an impulse buy and not a premeditated ethical purchase! Luckily this is one of very few successful impulse buys. Two years on and we’re on our second child and she loves it just as much as her big brother.PicMonkey Collage 10

We bought it when J was just starting to sit up. We propped him up inside and he spent ages playing peekaboo and passing balls through the hole in the window. Once he got on the move he loved crawling through the open “slide” end. Now he’s 2 1/2 it’s “My house” where he role plays being the postman or the Tesco delivery man! It took him a while to master the doorbell although his sister has caught on much quicker!

11 month old B loves it equally as much and has just mastered the shape sorter letter box. She’s also found it a fantastic place to practice pulling up and now cruises around in circles.

Probably most surprisingly it’s one of the few a places that both kiddies will play together…for a little while at least!

The only parts that they don’t bother with is the telescope and the electronic phone unit. To be honest I’m glad because telescope tends to block the door a little and the phone is actually quite hard to put back onto the receiver. Both of which would probably make my 2 year old’s head explode with frustration! I was trying to imagine what I would put in the phone panel as an alternative. My top three ideas were:

  1. Climbing frame/wall. They climb over it anyway so why not make it purpose built!
  2. Ball track and pounder
  3. Lots and lots of holes to feed a ball through – the hole in the window alone has given hours of fun!

Anyway, have you experienced the joy of a Little Tikes Activity Garden? One of the few plastic toys that I’d say is well worth the money.

 

Top 5 Uses for a Colander

All hail the mighty colander. Great for straining all kinds of veg and pasta but I feel a true colander’s worth can only be found by the creative genius that is THE TODDLER!!

THE CLASSIC HATWP_20141103_001.jpg

That’s an easy one to start us off. Of course there are endless hat possibilities…policeman/workman/fireman/spaceman/robot? hat/helmet.

PLAY DOH

My little one loves to squidge the play doh through the holes. Probably best reserved for a redundant colander – you don’t want play doh in your spaghetti!

STRAWS

WP_20160214_009.jpgNow on my second child I’m persevering with introducing Montessori activities. I love getting ideas from How We Montessori and am amazed by the little lad on the website. I’ve loved Montessori teaching for ages, even before Prince George made it trendy! Sadly, J never showed any interest but I have high (and probably somewhat deluded) hopes that B will like this stuff. You can use straws or pipe cleaners. I went with straws as I had visions of my toddler poking his little sister in the eye! So far B has thoroughly enjoyed pulling out the straws and chewing them (glad I chose straws!) Maybe in another year or so she’ll master threading them back in! (I wonder how good Prince George is at threading a colander??)

BALL CATCHER

This is great although far too advanced for my wee darlings yet. However the older Wee Green Folk can enjoy a game of indoor colander throw and catch when the kids go to bed…check us out!

BATH SCOOP

Great fun with or without your little one still in the bath. I find tidy up time always goes better with a little fishing. Saves you individually picking out the million squirty toys and foam alphabet letters every night. Time saving and fun…win win!!

So go on, what are your top uses for a colander?????

Top 5 Toys for 2-Year-Olds?

When it comes to Birthdays and Christmas I love to spend hours trawling through “toy” sites trying to find the best gifts ever – educational/fun/long-lasting/independent playable etc. etc. I like to spoil my kids but in a minimalist sort of way. They have loads of toys (partly due to very enthusiastic grandparents!) and we rotate them every few weeks (the toys, not the grandparents!). Toy rotation is fantastic. It’s like Christmas day in our house after I’ve swapped the toys around! They get so excited to see old favourites reappear and play much better with the smaller number of toys on offer. My 2 year old does ask for specific toys now he’s older and that’s fine. I just swap out something he hasn’t bothered with for a while. Anyway, I could witter all day about the virtues of rotating toys but the point of this post was to introduce the top five toys that my 2.5 year old currently loves…

  1. Cup ‘o Tea Men £4 from Ikea – Might be an Northern Irish child thing but if there’s something that can be turned into a tea cup he’ll be there with bells on. From day one he turned them upside-down and served tea to everyone. Ikea call them LILLABO figures. Not a planned purchase and it annoys me a bit they’re plastic but pound per play these guys are winners!LILLABO Toy figure IKEA
  2. Our Sofa (Gumtree bargain if anyone’s interested!) – No, this 2 year old is not an aspiring couch potato (yet). Our sofa is a double-decker bus, space rocket, car or wherever else his imagination decides! The skies the limit – literally – we frequently go shopping on Mars! Sometimes it’s a trampoline though we try not to encourage that one too much…hey-ho!
  3. Box Drum (Free with 9 packs of baby wipes!)- this obviously started out life as a baby wipe box and I tried to make a Montessori-style object permanence box – he showed zero interest! Then he saw someone play a box drum and has never looked back.   WP_20160120_002
  4. “Green” bags (few pounds from amazon!) – otherwise known as bean bags but you have to love the mispronunciation of a toddler! Anyway, we started out practising throw and catch and actually that worked really well. Much easier than catching a ball and he was so pleased with himself. However, they are now used primarily to feed the ducks in our living room. (Just to clarify we do not have ducks in our living room and the “green” bags stay firmly sealed at all times!!) Here’s a pic of our red and yellow green bags:-)WP_20160120_003
  5. “Walking Sticks”(free with wrapping paper). Also used to drop things down and play didgeridoo-style. Most recently used to build a “ladder” to access the loft (the sofa!).WP_20160120_006Anyway, I guess my point is that left to their own devices toddlers can turn anything into anything with a giant smile on their faces. It’s really incredible (and a bit scary) how their little minds work at this age. His imagination literally astounds me everyday – and to be honest I’m a little bit jealous!