Saturday, October 31, 2009
This is another entry into the peek-a-boo series by DK books. It's a terrific board book that has heavy gauge cardboard flaps that are difficult to tear (which is a necessity for the infant/toddler population). The pages are easy to turn and each reveals a fun tub toy with patches of soft, bumpy, squishy, or crinkly materials to touch. Strengths: The text is simple and the pages visually interesting to young children. It's an easy and predictable book to read. Weaknesses: None that the children I've shared it with have discovered. Price: $5-$7. Where to Buy: The DK books can be purchased from most major book sellers, amazon (http://www.amazon.com/) or directly from from the company at http://www.dk.com/
This soft rattle is made of all natural cotton fibers and is a wonderful toy for an infant with allergies or skin conditions. It's easy to grasp and when given even a little shake you can hear a soft rattle coming from within. Strengths: It's entirely organic so it's a toy that's not only good for your child but good for the environment as well. Weaknesses: It's a wonderful toy for one child, but because of it's soft surface not a great one to share across children. Price: $9-$13. Where to Buy: http://www.amazon.com/.
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
This is a classic piece of children's literature that has stood the test of time. It was originally published in 1969 and is still highly popular today with infants, toddlers, preschoolers, and their parents. The story encourages counting skills, colour recognition, matching, and object identification. The pictures are so wonderfully expressive you don't even need to read the text to let young children enjoy the story. If you do read the text you'll find it to be simple and highly repetitive, something that young children love. You can also purchase a caterpillar/butterfly puppet that comes with the book to make the experience of reading more interactive for your little one.
If your interested in teaching your toddler and preschooler their colours and colour mixing, this is a fantastic book. The story starts with White Rabbit finding three big tubs of paint - red, yellow, and blue. She starts by climbing into the yellow pot of paint and then the red, to become an orange rabbit. The story continues with White Rabbit first trying a single primary paint colour and then mixing it with another colour to produce a third. In addition to being red, yellow, and blue, White Rabbit also turns orange, purple, green, and brown. This book is a great way to introduce colours to children in a fun story book.
This is a great first peg board for children 18 months to preschool age. The large easy to grip pieces fit easily into the wide holes and are great for encouraging fine motor development. A newer version of the toy includes 25 pegs of different colours and shapes, so you can do matching as well as simple stacking activities. The company also puts out and Activity Pack for the pegboard that can be purchased separately. It contains 25 round pegs (shown), lace, and an activity guide book for parents. Strengths: This is a versatile toy that will be fun for your child for a long time and it's very durable (I've had mine for about 15 years). The play value is excellent for the money spent. It's also noteworthy that the pegs are large enough that they don't pose a choking hazard to young children. Weaknesses: Depending upon how you're using the toy the pegs can be difficult to keep track of and are easy to lose. Price: The Giant Pegboard: $18.50 (through Discovery Toys). The Activity Pack: $8.50 (through Discovery Toys). Where to Buy: Discovery Toys are most readily available through private home toy parties (like a Pampered Chef party but for toys) and you can find representatives at the Discovery Toys website http://www.discoverytoys.com/. You can also purchase toys on-line at the Discovery Toys website. Additionally, you can find some of the toys through on-line stores like Amazon.
Sunday, October 25, 2009
Forget everything you thought you knew about the story of the Three Little Pigs when you enter this fantastic and whimsical book! It starts off in the traditional way, but the pigs actually escape from the story and start exploring other stories and fairy tales. Eventually they return to their own story, but they bring some new friends with them to help deal with the wolf. This is a wonderful twist on the classic story, but holds wonderful surprises that older toddlers and preschoolers alike will enjoy. As usual, David Wiesner provides beautifully detailed drawings to compliment the story.
Labels: Classic Story with a Twist
This battery operated little ball is designed to encourage crawling and walking in infants and young toddlers. When hit or batted at the ball rolls and the monkey rocks back and forth and giggles. Strengths: It's a cute toy that is visually appealing to young children. Those who are not yet walking find it the most interesting. Weaknesses: It does not work well on carpet or tile with deep grout lines. The toy would have more appeal if it actually played a song or had music that accompanied the movement rather than just the giggle, which can become a little annoying. Price: $13-$15. Where to Buy: Toys R Us, discount stores like Big Lots, or Amazon.
Saturday, October 24, 2009
This is a unique and very interesting shape sorting toy that is appropriate for toddlers who want more of a challenge of more than simply a circle, square, and triangle. The cloth box has two flaps that open easily to retrieve the wooden shapes stored inside. The 8 shapes include 2 circles, 2 triangles (of different sizes), 1 square, 1 oval, 1 circular cog, and 1 octagon. The unique shapes also offer some interesting sensory experiences for young children, including, rattles, kaleidoscopes, mirrors, and other shiny surfaces to explore. Strengths: The unique nature of the shapes really provides lots of learning opportunities for toddlers and even preschoolers. Weaknesses: Because the shape box is constructed out of a stitched material rather than a molded plastic, some of the shapes can be a little difficult to fit into their designated holes (e.g., it's a bit difficult to fit the cog and octagon through the circle hole - they're just a little bit big. However, they will go in if you are persistent). Price: $40-$54. Where to Buy: Haba toys can be ordered through specialty toy shops, but can also be purchased on-line through Moolka toys (http://www.moolka.com/) and of course through Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/).
This book is a must have for every new sleep deprived parent. Dr. Karp presents specific steps for how to best calm a crying baby (the 5 S's - swaddling, side lying, shhh-ing, swinging, & sucking) and provides techniques for how to help babies sleep through the night. He also addresses the issue of colic and provides a variety of different remedies for harried parents. This is an excellent resource for new parents!
Labels: Parent resource
This is a musical stacking toy that holds a great deal of appeal from older infants and toddlers alike. The three rings sit on a musical base, and when then head is pushed down on the stacking ring the toy plays several songs and spins back and forth. Strengths: The rings are made out of a hard plastic and are easy for little hands to manipulate. They fit easily onto the stacking rod and the toy itself is very simple to activate. Weaknesses: Although there is an on/off switch on the toy there is not a volume control and the music is LOUD. Additionally, the Bear's head isn't really secure and falls off easily. Price: $15-$20. Where to Buy: Bruin toys are carried exclusively by Toys R Us. Because the toy line is from Europe, not all items are available on a regular basis.
Sunday, October 18, 2009
This is an excellent variation on standard stacking ring toys that is appropriate for toddlers (1 year+) and preschoolers alike. It has a heavy wooden base with a wide dowel running up the centre to hold the rings in place. Each of the rings can be taken apart to form two separate rings - a colourful one and the other with a natural wood finish. The toy is designed to help children develop fine motor skills (fitting the rigs together and stacking), develop spatial logic (fitting the rings together in different configurations), and learn colour and size concepts. Strengths: This is a very durable toy that will last for many years and play sessions to come. Weaknesses: Because the toy is made of a heavy wood it wouldn't be appropriate if your child was still in the "I'll throw everything" phase. Price: $34. Where to Buy: This is the type of toy that would be available through most specialty toy shops, but it can also be purchased on-line through Barnes and Nobel (http://www.barnesandnobel.com/) or Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/)
This is a classic book for young children that has been available in one form or another since 1967. The book focuses on the identification of animals and colours, but does so in a wonderful, repetitious text, which is just what infants, toddlers, and preschoolers love. The illustrations, like the text, are very simple and easy for young children to identify. This is an enduring favourite for most children (even though parents can tire of reading it!). It's available in both board book and paper versions. Where to Buy: This book is available almost anywhere that sells even a few children's books.
Stacking and nesting toys are great favourites for most toddlers. This set of alphabet blocks is beautifully illustrated and light enough for little children to handle easily. Each cube (except the 'z' cube) features two or three alphabet letters with whimsical drawings of items beginning with those letters. The blocks, which can be stacked into a 3 foot tall tower by letter, colour, or size, come in a handy carrying case that let's you store all of them in a single box. Strengths: These cubes are light and easy to manipulate and have a laminated wipe clean surface for easy cleaning. Weaknesses: Because these are made of cardboard they aren't that durable and will wear out quickly if your child likes to knock them over or use them in a rough manner. Price: $9-$10. Where to Buy: Melissa & Doug Toys are available at Toys R Us, but can also be found at their online store (http://www.melissaanddoug.com/), or at Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/).
This snappy little car is great for older infants and toddlers because it encourages cause-effect exploration as well as pushing and pulling motor movements. When you push the car forward the beads pop merrily and the wheels make a clicking sound that's interesting to little ears. Strengths: It's a great size for little hands and can double as a shaking toy for younger children. Weaknesses: The car can be difficult to push, so often children aren't able to make it work by themselves and have to rely on adult assistance (not really a bad thing as far as I'm concerned). Price: $5-$6. Where to Buy: Sassy toys are very widely available, so you can pick them up at drug stores, Target, Babies R Us, or even Amazon.
Good Dog Carl is the first in a long series of 'Carl' books available both in board book and paper print versions. These wordless books follow the adventures of a Rottweiler named Carl and the family he lives with. Carl takes care of the baby, goes shopping, plays at the park, and even decorates for the holidays. The pictures are delicate and have lots of details, so they are good ones to help little children learn how to describe different events and objects. 'Carl' books have stood the test of time (they were originally published in 1986) so they are definitely worth investing in. Where to Buy: Children's book sellers usually carry these books as do large chain book stores with children's sections.
Labels: Wordless Book
This is a mixed blessing toy - it's educational, but it can promote some very isolated, non- social play in children who have a tendency to be a bit more solitary in their play. The ball lights up and plays music when you spin it, which is a great cause-effect lesson for young children. The ball can also be removed from the stand and played with more independently by older children. Strengths: It's a toy that can be used in different ways at different ages, so it is a good play value for your money. Weaknesses: As was mentioned before, this can be a very isolating toy for children. Some children become so caught up in the lights, music, and spinning motion that it precludes them from using the toy in a social way. Price: The original version of the toy (pictured) is no longer manufactured, but you can get collector's items on places like Amazon for about $70. A newer version of the toy Leap Frog Spin and Sing Alphabet Zoo is also available for about $16-$18. Where to Buy: The Spin & Sing Alphabet Zoo is available at Toys R Us, Wal Mart, Target, or anywhere Leap Frog Toys are available.
This is a simple and charming book about a bear who wakes up after a long hibernation wanting lots of food to eat. Bear's friends do everything they can think of to help him find food, but he still wants more. The recurring idea in the book is that no matter what bear eats, he wants more. It ends with his friends baking honey cakes for a party and bear finally eating his fill. It's a great bedtime story or one for snuggling up together on a rainy afternoon. Where to Buy: Bear books are available through children's book sellers or large chain book stores with children's sections.
This is an adorable set of drums that encourage babies to participate in two of their favourite activities: moving around and pounding on things. When the drums are hit they light up and music plays, teaching baby a rich cause-effect lesson. When snapped together and turned on, the drums will roll across the floor, giving baby something to chase. Both infants and toddlers seem to enjoy these little drums. Strengths: The drums can be used in two different ways - pounding and rolling. Weaknesses: Even though these seem like very durable little drums, the first set I bought broke quickly (after only several uses) but the second set has been going strong for a couple of years. Price: $17-$20. Where to Buy: These can be found at retailers like Target, Wal-Mart, and Toys R Us, or at Amazon (www.amazon.com).
This is the first in a delightful series of David books. This book follows the misadventures of a little boy named David who is always being told "No!" He chews with his mouth open, plays with his food, jumps on the bed, picks his nose, and tracks mud on the carpet to name only a few of his mishaps. The text is very simple (only a few words per page) and revolves around different ways of telling David not to do something. The story ends with David's Mummy telling him that she still loves him, a fitting end to a mishap filled day! Most adults don't find the pictures appealing but children seem to love them. David is an endearing little fellow who will quickly work his way into your regular reading routine. Where to Buy: David books are fairly popular, so should be easy to find through most children's book sellers.
This pop-up box helps children discover the dinosaurs in the eggs by having them push, slide, and rotate large buttons that are easy to grasp. It's a nice basic cause-effect toy with a few drawbacks. Strengths: This toy doesn't light up, play music, make sounds, or move around. It's just a basic pop-up box that helps children learn simple cause-effect relationships. Weaknesses: The buttons can be difficult to operate if children have any strength issues with their hands. The dinosaurs are sometimes difficult to push back down into the eggs and the eggs don't always latch properly. Price: $19-$23. Where to Buy: I don't believe that this toy is available in mass markets and longer, but it can be found on amazon (http://www.amazon.com/) or through eBay.
Saturday, October 10, 2009
With titles like "Eat", "Splash", "Smile", "Sleep", "Hugs & Kisses", and "Peek-a-Boo" you know exactly what you'll be getting in these beautifully photographed board books. Each page has a close up picture of a baby doing what the title of the book says he or she will do. There is simple text at the bottom of each page, but these books are equally entertaining for young children if they just get to look at the pictures. The books are short (only about 4 pages each) but they are the perfect way to introduce reading activities to your infant. You can purchase these books through Scholastic (www2.scholastic.com) or of course through http://www.amazon.com/.
This is the story of a young boy who went for a walk and gradually assembled a colourful group of animals that follow him throughout the story. The simple, predictable, and repetitive text makes this a very popular book with toddlers and preschoolers alike. The illustrations are beautifully delicate watercolours and easily capture the playfulness of the story. The book is available as a board book, paper back book, and large lap sized book. You can also get the book in Spanish as well as English. The only drawback to this book is that the style of the text is very close to that of the book "Brown Bear, Brown Bear" by Bill Martin Jr. & Eric Carle. An excerpt from "I Went Walking" is "I went walking. What did you see? I saw a pink pig looking at me." For those of you who know the Brown Bear book this should sound hauntingly familiar! Overall "I Went Walking" is a great book. It was originally published in 1989, so it's not available at all book store sources. However you can find it at http://www.amazon.com/.
This toy features four of Sesame Streets most popular characters, all singing excerpts from their famous songs. When the doors are closed, or in Oscar's case the lid of his trash can pushed down, children can activate the toy by pushing, sliding, or turning one of the four buttons to make the door open and start the character singing. Strengths: The characters are appealing and having to manipulate the buttons in different ways to activate the toy promotes not only fine motor development but also problem solving skills. Weaknesses: Ernie, Elmo, Cookie Monster, and Oscar only sing very brief excerpts of their songs (but this isn't always a weakness) and some families have complained that their Pop Up pals box was easily broken or malfunctioned quickly. I have had mine for about 2 years and it's gotten a lot of use by young children and it's still working well. Price: $21 - $25. Where to Buy: This toy has fairly wide availability. You can find it at Wal Mart and Target or at www.amazon.com.
This is one of those sweet children's books that is charming and fun for infants, toddler, and young preschoolers. The basic premise of the story is that the zoo keeper is trying to lock up all of the animals for the night, but the gorilla steals his keys, lets all of the animals out of their cages, and they follow the zookeeper home. The text is simple and the illustrations, while fairly simple, have some lovely details that children love to point out as they become more familiar with the story. Where to Buy: Good Night Gorilla is widely available at children's book sellers or larger books stores that have a children's section.
This compact little gripping toy is ideal for infants and toddlers alike. Infants will be fascinated by the rattle in the centre of the toy and will enjoy grasping the smooth plastic handles. Older infants and toddlers will love the fact that the handles are small enough to be chewed on during highly uncomfortable teething times. Strengths: It's a great quiet time toy for the car, and can easily be attached to a car seat with large plastic links. Weaknesses: It doesn't have sustained play value, so it's a toy that will be interesting at certain periods of development, but probably won't be long term favourite. Price: $10 - $12. Where to Buy: Specialty toy shops usually carry this toy or you can find something similar at Amazon.
Labels: Texture Toys
This cuddly little elephant is a wonderful music toy for infants and toddlers who still enjoy a little lullaby at bed time. Pull down on Ellie's trunk and as it coils upward Brahms lullaby plays. To complete the picture, Ellie holds a little baby elephant in the end of her trunk. Strengths: It's cute and I have found that children like the challenge of trying to independently activate the music. Weaknesses: It has limited play value. As a child gets older Ellie can be pushed around in a stroller or cuddled, but there isn't really a lot of diversity in what can done with her. Price: $18-$20. Where to Buy: These are still available through an outside vendor with Amazon, but soon they will probably only be available on sites like eBay.
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
This is a great first shape sorting toy for infants starting as young as 6-8 months of age! The rings and rattle fit through all of the slots in the top of the container, but little ones need to learn how to rotate their hands to get the rings through in certain directions. These different options of how to put the rings in promote fine motor development. If your baby isn't interested in using the slots, the lid comes off of the top of the container and the rings can simply be dropped in. Additionally, the rings are a great texture for chewing, so children can use this as a teething toy as well. Strengths: Everything! It's a wonderful and engaging toy that will keep baby busy for a long time. It's a toy they will come back to for many months. Weaknesses: None that the babies and toddlers I work with have discovered. Price: $8 - $10. Where to Buy: Target stores typically carry Sassy toys, but this is also available through Babies R Us and Amazon.
This plush stacking toy offers many surprises for babies and toddlers. Squeaky feet, a head that rattles, and wings that crinkle are only some of the fun aspects of Anouk! Additionally there is a large mirror hidden underneath the penguin and when the three soft rings are removed from his body, a bright blue starfish is revealed. Strengths: This is a fun toy to explore and it's one that will keep babies and toddlers interested for quite awhile. Even once the fun of taking the rings on and off wears out, Anouk is just fun to carry around or put in a doll stroller. Weaknesses: The price is the biggest drawback of this toy. It's regular price is $49, but can be found on Amazon (via Moolka Toys) for $39. Where to Buy: This toy can be found at http://www.moolka.com/ (a European toy company). Moolka carries a wide range of unique toys that aren't often found in large chain toy stores.
Monday, October 5, 2009
This is a classic book lift-the-flap book for older infants and toddlers. The simplicity of the story and repetitiveness of the text makes it an ideal book for young children. The basic idea behind the book is that Mama dog is looking for little Spot. She looks under the bed, in the piano, behind the door, and just about everywhere else she can think of before she finds her hidden puppy. Children love lifting the flaps and shouting out "No!" when Mama asks if Spot could be hidden in a certain place. Spot books can be found almost everywhere children's books are sold. These books come both in hard-cover and paper-back formats.
Labels: Lift-the-Flap book
Toddlers love to talk on the phone! This colourful little phone is actually based on the classic Fisher Price phone that was available a number of years ago. The updated version has many of the same features: a dial that rings, eyes that move up and down when the phone is pulled, and a receiver that's just the right size for little hands. Strengths: It's a great pull toy that helps to support imaginative play. Weaknesses: The cord that goes from the receiver to the phone is so short that even very young children need to pick up the entire toy to talk on the phone. I'm sure this adjustment was made to the toy to eliminate a choking hazard, but the pull cord at the front of the phone is extremely long and could just as easily choke a child. Price: $10-$12. Where to Buy: Any store that carries Fisher Price toys will have some version of the Chatter Phone.
Labels: Pretend Play
This charming little mirror is one that can either hang in the crib or be placed on the floor on it's easel for baby. The ribbons, rings, bird, bee, and sun are all interesting toys for baby to explore. A large soft picture frame is located on the back of the toy so you can include a photo of baby or a favourite family member for your baby to look at when he or she tires of mirror play. Strengths: This is a nice low tech toy (this means no batteries are needed!) that is fun for babies during tummy time activities. Weaknesses: The mirror space is a little over crowded with all of the other toys. Price: $19-$21. Where to Buy: Sassy toys are available at Target and Wal-Mart Stores.
This multi-sensory rattle is great for infants and toddlers who like to reach and pull at toys. There are three fabric tubes knotted and threaded together through a rigid clear plastic cube that children can explore. Each fabric tube comes out of a different shaped hole (e.g., heart, circle, square) and has either a teething toy or sensory toy at the free end. The toy is easy to suspend on either a crib or a stroller for maximum play opportunities. Strengths: This toy is easy to hold and chew, so it's an ideal teething toy. Also it has engaging sounds and textures that will keep baby interested for a long time. Weaknesses: None that have been discovered by any of the children I work with. Price: $13-$15. Where to Buy: The Tug & Play Knot Block is available through the Lamaze toy website (http://www.learningcurve.com/), Growing Tree Toys (http://www.growingtreetoys.com/), or at specialty toy shops that carry the Lamaze line.
Sunday, October 4, 2009
This is a strong and durable little truck that is designed for use by older infants and toddlers. The truck box is large enough for other smaller cars to fit inside and these toys can be easily dumped out of opening in the back of the truck. Strengths: The truck is a good size for little hands and it is constructed to be long lasting. Weaknesses: The truck flips ups easily when pushed and can cause bumps and scrapes on little faces. Additionally, the truck box doesn't always flip up when pulled on by a young child. This is especially problematic when a child has reached the "I'll do it myself" stage of development, because it can become frustrating for them. Price: $35-$39. Where to Buy: Donnie the Dump Truck (pictured) and other Handle Hauler toys are available through http://www.amazon.com/, but can often be found in consignment shops for a much lower price.
This gorgeously illustrated book is actually a combination of a counting book, puzzle book, and storybook. The Water Hole tells the story of different animal habitats and what happens to the animals when the water supply begins to run low (watch closely for the group of frogs that frolic across each page in party hats and Hawaiian shirts). This book is published both in a traditional hard cover version and a board book versions, both of which are "finger in the hole" books (books where a child can stick his/her finger through a hole in the page in order to turn the page). The text in the book is very simple, so even if a young child has difficulty understanding the theme of water conservation - there is fun to be had in counting the animals and making fun sounds with them. The Water Hole is available from most children's book sellers or large chain book stores with a children's section.
This is a cute toy with a great cause-effect concept - push the cow and watch the truck zoom across the floor. Like many of the other Amazing Animals toys by Fisher Price, this one has a pig whose head and legs click when moved and a sheep that makes sounds when you shake it. When the cow is pushed down one of three auditory effects happens: a short song plays, the cow moos, or the sound of a truck starting plays. Strengths: The cow is very easy to push down so children with all different levels of motor skills can make this toy work fairly easily. Weaknesses: The truck does not work well on anything but a hard floor surface. Even on very short, tightly woven carpet the truck doesn't travel forward. On hard floor surfaces it works a bit better, but still doesn't move as far as other toys that follow the same cause-effect principle. Price: $27-$30. Where to Buy: This can be purchased at the on-line Toys-R-Us store (http://www.toysrus.com/) or at http://www.amazon.com/.
Saturday, October 3, 2009
This is an elegantly simple book that teaches the lesson that no matter where babies are born they all share the common feature of "Ten little fingers and ten little toes." The text of the book is written in the language of infants and toddlers: repetition and rhyme (e.g., There was one little baby who was born far away. And another who was born on the very next day. And both of these babies, as everyone knows, had ten little fingers and ten little toes). Mem Fox also incorporates some interesting vocabulary into the book as a way of helping language understanding to grow. The illustrations are simple and lovely and serve as the perfect setting for the delightful text. This is a delightful book that should be in the library of every child. The only drawback of the book is that it is much to large for little hands to manage - but hopefully a board version will come out sometime in the near future.
This is a plush 5 piece stacking ball that is interesting to infants after about 9 months of age. There are four foam pieces covered with cotton and velvet-terry that slide together on a fabric rod. The stacking rings rattle, squeak, and rustle to give baby a variety of sensory experiences. Strengths: This is a toy that can be used in different ways at different ages. Children can roll and throw the ball, but also take the pieces off of the fabric rod and stack them in different configurations. Weaknesses: The rings fit snugly on the fabric rod, so they can be difficult to remove. Price: $17-20. Where to Buy: on-line at http://www.kangarooboo.com/ (search term "colori")
This gorgeously illustrated Caldecott Honor Book is the delightful story of a lazy bear and a family of very industrious bunnies. The bear, who is not only lazy but very rich, owns all of the farm land. The bunnies are a large hungry family with no land, so they make bear an offer - if he donates the land they will do all of the work. The bunnies promise to split the crops they grow in half with the bear, all he has to do is chose the top or the bottom half. Once the crops come in, the bear realizes he has been tricked by the bunnies. This is a great book for children once they've reached the stage of liking to hear longer stories. Where to Buy: Any children's book seller would have this book or could easily order it for you.
If you're looking for a bargain on children's toys, a website to check out is http://www.kidsurplus.com/. This site offers a really wide variety of brand name toys for anywhere from 10% - 50% off the price you'll pay through other retailers. They carry most major brand name toys and also carry toys that are no longer available because they are out of production. The one drawback is that they don't always have the toys your looking for, but if you're willing to be a bit flexible you'll usually find something good for a very reasonable price.
Labels: Parent resource
This is a simple and fun "drop and dump" toy for infants and toddlers. The giraffe comes with four jungle themed peek-a-blocks that you drop through an opening on the giraffe's head. They tumble down his neck and when they hit the bottom a very short little song plays accompanied by animal sounds. You can then open a small door between the giraffe's feet and the blocks come tumbling out. Strengths: This is popular with children who are at the age where they like to explore toys by dropping things into containers. There is a fairly quick pay-off for the dropping action and the blocks are a good size for small hands to grip. Weaknesses: After awhile the trap door between the giraffe's feet falls open with even the slightest touch. The blocks fall out easily and this tends to spoil the fun of being able to open the door and have all four blocks fall out all at once. Price: $12 - $17. Where to Buy: This toy is no longer available through places like Fisher Price or Toys R Us, but a few can be found on www.amazon.com. Check out local consignment shops or yard sales to find this cute giraffe.
This lovely rattle is one that will entertain infants and toddlers alike with its raised textures and easy to grip curves. With just the simplest touch, the body of the rattle will twist in different directions helping young children learn about principles of movements and letting them practice rotational movements of the wrist. Strengths: It's visually appealing and actually a very sturdy and durable plastic toy. Weaknesses: Sometimes the rattle gets stuck when you twist it and this can become very frustrating for both infants and toddlers. Price: $12 - $14. Where to Buy: www.amazon.com or The Tolo Toy Shop at www.BambinoMountain.com