Hello lovelies! Charley Bird had her 2nd birthday in April and since i hadn’t really bought any toys for her since her first birthday, i was blown away by the variety of offerings out there aimed at her age group. To be honest, i found it a bit of a minefield – and a potentially expensive one at that! And while i don’t want to be a total Tiger Mama, drumming skills into her system, i also didn’t want to buy rubbish that breaks or is of little use to her once its been taken out of her packaging! A year ago i would have said NO Disney but she is so obsessed with Sophia the First that i also know that is going to happen at some stage too. And who could say no to Winnie the Pooh – ever?!
That’s why i was thrilled when Toy Kingdom asked if i’d like to take part in an OT toy blogger testing campaign where i needed to choose some toys from the Ideal Cycles toys range, a huge selection of toys, games and puzzles specifically designed to promote fine and large motor skills, to enhance curiosity and problem solving and to allow children’s imaginations to grow, grow, grow. They also hosted a fascinating OT workshop which i attended and from which i took a major nugget – children need ‘floor time’ with a parent or caregiver for a minimum of 20 minutes a day. By that, the OT suggested getting down on the floor and playing with them – whether it’s building puzzles and forts or playing boardgames or the like. With that in mind, i chose three items that would work for Charley at the age she is now but that would also work when she gets older…take a look…
PLAYING SMART WITH SMARTMAX
The main reason why i was drawn to the Smartmax range of magnetic construction toys is because The Captain is an engineer. He loves nothing better than to play with LEGO with Charley Bird and its great bonding time for them in the mornings and evenings when he gets in from work – it’s a good thing to consider what you like playing with too when buying toys because it makes sense you’ll pass that joy along to your kids. I knew he would love Smart Max and it came with excellent reviews. What i didn’t expect was how much i would love it too and i’ve noticed every Mom who comes round comments on it – my sister actively seeks it out when she comes to our house with her toddler, she finds the snap snap of the magnetic building sticks to the metal balls immensely satisfying and i know exactly what she means. Charley and i often get lost in the time playing with Smartmax.
I bought the Smartmax starter kit and as soon as i get back to Toy Kingdom i’m going to buy another top up set, I know Charley will play with her Smartmax for years and years to come – it’s a GREAT toy! She’s learnt how the whole magnetic thing works without having to think about it and her constructions change every single time she plays with it- from favourite flowers which she loves to make to the cutest wonky ‘houses’ where she drives in her cars. The box says that Smartmax toys are for ages 6 and up but i am so glad i went with my gut on this one as it’s been such a huge hit.
ZA ZA ZOOB
We are already Zoob fans in our house since Sarah, who is now 13, was a big Zoob fan when she was little. Her toys were passed on many years ago so i was thrilled to see that Toy Kingdom stocked them – and you can get them in small starter packs and bigger, more complicated ones too.
They consist of three main types of pieces which you use to create anything you can imagine – from complicated ‘animals’ to satisfying long worms – which i love doing with Charley. Again, the packaging does say Zoob is for older kids BUT it has been amazing for helping Charley strengthen her little fingers (it’s a pro fine motor coordination toy) and it’s also teaching her patience as its not that easy for her to snap the round heads into the pincer parts. It’s another toy that feels very satisfying once you get it and also, what i like is that there is no wrong or right way to play with them, it’s a real promoter of free imagination play.
Another bonus of Zoob is that the pieces are great for keeping small people busy on long car trips – and the starter kit is really reasonably priced (R89) too.
Charley is obsessed with naming every single colour she sees so i knew this Jack in the Box Colour Matching game from the Chalk & Chuckles series would be a hit with her! The game works with each player taking a turn to roll a dice and to build a multicoloured Jack in the Box in springs that relate to the colour on the dice that’s been thrown. So far, so not-going-to-work-with-a-busy-two-year-old! So, i changed the ‘rules’ to suit Charley’s current abilities which meant i started off four Jack in the Boxes according to colour and each time we rolled a colour, she had to match a colour spring with a Jack in the Box that had been started already – that worked like a charm and we played a few rounds. The biggest challenge was teaching Charley that rolling the dice doesn’t mean chucking the dice across the lounge!
Very proud of the finished products!
We’re going to Stanford soon – this is a perfect rainy weekend afternoon game and is perfect for toddlers learning their colours too. Once she’s older i know she’ll like to play it ‘how its supposed to be played’ but for now it’s working great. Also – bring on the days when she’s old enough to play this with other children!
All of these Occupational Therapy oriented and thousands of other amazing toys are all available from Toy Kingdom – in store and online.
PS. Keep an eye out on the blog this week as i’ll be posting a WIN from Toy Kingdom – i have 2 x R750 hampers to share with readers!
PSS. Are you a Toy Kingdom member? I really recommend it, you get points on your card everytime you spend plus they have weekly specials which are great! They had a Hape wooden toy special the other day and i bought a wooden cooking set i’ve had my eye on for 20% less!