Friday, October 28, 2016

Learning the alphabet with Paw Patrol Treat Time Marshall

Is your child obsessed with Paw Patrol too? 

From what I can tell Paw Patrol is rapidly invading the houses of almost all toddlers and preschoolers across the nation. Even though Paw Patrol airs on channel 9 and GO! each week, bub didn't discover it on TV, she found it via a suggested video on YouTube Kids and she's been infatuated ever since. And ever since then I've had the annoying catchy theme song ringing in my head. No idea what I'm talking about? Listen to this...




You'll have that in your head for weeks now. Welcome to my world.

As with any of bubs new obsessions it's imperative that I learn the characters names as quickly as possible to avoid her frustration when I don't understand what the hell she's talking about. Threenagers get very annoyed when you don't love their heroes as much as they do {especially when they're talking animated dogs}. Her favourites are Marshall, Rubble and Skye {so naturally they're the only ones I usually remember}.

Now that she's in love with Paw Patrol I've all of a sudden started noticing all the Paw Patrol things at the shops. Funny that. It's like when you get a red car, then see red cars e-v-e-r-y-w-h-e-r-e. It's a conspiracy I swear. Apparently there's a huuuge amount of Paw Patrol gear available to satisfy the little people, which is both good {hello Christmas presents} and slightly confusing. I'm a bit of a mean mum and have a rule that any new toys coming into this house need to be either wooden or educational, so that cancels out a lot toys at the shops, but I'm happy to report there's a really cool educational Paw Patrol toy that gets a massive tick of approval from me {much to bub's delight}. Meet Treat Time Marshall.
Treat Time Marshall helps kids learn the alphabet through games and songs as they feed him different pup treats. Each pup treat is a different letter and as he's fed Marshall responds with the letter, phonics, objects or songs depending on which mode he's in. Marshall has four modes including letter treats, learning rescue, search & rescue and music time.

In letter treats kids can put any pup treat into Marshall's mouth and he'll recognise the letter and repeat it back to them. In learning rescue Marshall identifies the letter and the picture on the pup treat and explains it. Search and rescue is a game where kids need to identify the right letter either by the letter or picture on the pup treat, if they get it wrong they're encouraged to try again. In music time kids can feed Marshall any pup treat and each one will trigger a different song.

Marshall's fire rescue badge also lights up and flashes as he talks and can be pressed for extra sayings. Marshall has over 250 melodies, sounds and phrases. He also moves his ears and opens and closes his eyes which bub loves. VTech have also incorporated storage into the toy with Marshall's pup pack safely storing all the pup treats when they're not being played with. The handle on his back also makes it really easy for kids to carry him around {bub takes him all over the house and outside}.




My only mild criticism of Marshall would be that the pup treats fit into his mouth quite snugly so it took bub a bit of time to get the hang of getting them in properly and out again. She's mastered it now {and it was good incidental fine motor skills practice}, but there were some initial tantrums, so just be prepared to help put them in and out at the beginning. The pup pack flap is also a little tricky to open, but that's actually a blessing in disguise because it means once I've packed it up she can't get them back out again and lose them.

Treat Time Marshall is a great toy to introduce letters and the alphabet to younger children and an engaging way to reinforce them to kids that already know the alphabet. Bub's known the alphabet for over a year now, but I still love to reinforce it during play all the time and the games Marshall plays with her are doing that in a fun and interactive way. She loves listening and singing along to the songs in the music mode and she really loves playing the search and rescue game where she has to listen to his clues and pick the right pup treat. In fact I'm pretty sure pup treat has become a regular part of her vocabulary now because she's always talking about Marshall and his pup treats. Even though this toy is plastic and I'd prefer wooden toys, its educational benefits far outweigh my aversion to plastic toys. I definitely feel its a worthwhile investment and I can see bub will be playing with it for the next couple of years. If you're looking for a Christmas gift for a Paw Patrol obsessed toddler or preschooler then definitely add Treat Time Marshall to your list.

For further information on Treat Time Marshall and other VTech products {including more Paw Patrol toys}, visit www.vtech.com.au, or check out the VTech news on Facebook and Instagram.


Disclosure - I was provided a Treat Time Marshall for the purpose of review. All opinions expressed are based on our experience with the product. I did not receive payment for this review.

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Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Mummy Must Have Review | Along Came A Baby Milestone Book

You now how you're meant to be all organised with the first child and then you start letting things slide with the second? Well I think I'm the opposite of that. I had the best intentions of doing everything for bub - pregnancy journal, baby book, print lots of photos, record every memory - but it just never ended up happening. I let it slide for weeks, which turned into months, which has now turned into years... whoops. In my defence though I was dealing with post natal depression and an extremely unsettled allergy baby so my mind was somewhat preoccupied just getting through each day. Once the fog finally cleared from all of that I'd completely forgotten about filling in her baby book {and didn't really think about it again until I found out I was pregnant again}.

I'm determined to not let it happen again this time. This baby is going to have a pregnancy journal to look back on and a completely full milestone book, with photos included. To be honest though I haven't actually bought anything for the baby yet as I was planning on waiting until after we know the sex, but when I was invited to review the new Along Came a Baby Milestone Book and discovered it was unisex I knew it would be perfect.


Along came a baby is an 80 page gender neutral baby record book that records memories from pregnancy right through to your child's first day of school. Instead of being all grey or all yellow, like most traditionally unisex products, the book is a nice blend of black, pink, blue, teal and yellow not focusing too heavily on any one colour so it will appeal to parents of both genders, and those like me who haven't found out yet. Along Came a Baby is a mixture of a photo album, journal and scrapbook all combined into one beautifully bound keepsake book.


The book contains a pregnancy section which includes notes from each trimester, potential name lists, spaces for ultrasound and bump pics and space to write a letter to the baby pre-birth. There's also detailed monthly records once baby is born. I really love that there's a page to do hand and foot prints as well as keep a lock of hair and the hospital bracelet {I still have bub's floating around in a box in her room}. I also love that there are numerous pages dedicated to letters to the baby at different stages of their life, I  recorded letters to bub on the blog, but I never physically wrote them down anywhere so it'll be nice to have that recorded this time in one place.


I love this book so much it's actually made me feel slightly guilty for not filling out one for bub and I'm thinking of buying her a book and retrospectively filling it in now. People do that right? I don't want this baby to have everything recorded and her to have nothing to look back on when she's older so I'm going to have to get onto that pretty quickly {before I forget everything}. I can already imagine us all sitting around in 20yrs time looking back through the books and reminiscing when they were both little babies.

Until November 1st 2016 you'll receive a free print with every milestone book purchased from Along Came a Baby.

Did you fill out a baby book for all of your kids?

Toni x

Disclosure - I was gifted a copy of Along Came a Baby Milestone Book for the purpose of review. All opinions are my own after using the book. I did not receive payment for this review.

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Monday, October 24, 2016

Halloween play ideas for toddlers and preschoolers

Isn't it funny how much difference a year can make? Last year I wrote about how I dislike Halloween and have no intentions of embracing it and yet this past week I've been actively coming up with Halloween themed play ideas for bub. I know, what the?

While I may have slowly started embracing Halloween in small doses, I still don't agree with the overall concept. I still dislike the idea of trick or treating, I'm still petrified of people dressed up as ghosts, witches, zombies and clowns {especially this year with the crazy clown situation} and I'm still terrified of most things horror related, so it's really still not my cup of tea. But, I'm a realist and the fact is it's gaining popularity every year here in Australia, so bub will be exposed to it more and more as the years go on. So I've decided to introduce it to her in an age appropriate and fun way by incorporating Halloween themed activities into our daily play. These are some of the fun activities we've tried and how you can put them together for your own kids.

Halloween sensory play ideas for toddlers and preschoolers


HALLOWEEN SENSORY TUB


Halloween sensory tub for toddlers

We're huge fans of sensory tubs here, so it's no surprise that I put together a Halloween one. I found some cheap plastic rats, bats and spiders as well as some chocolate eyeballs and pumpkins to use with some couscous. It would also be great with orange or black dyed rice, beans or spaghetti. I added in some tweezers and handy scoopers for some added fine motor skills while playing.

SPOOKY JELLY


Halloween spooky jelly

I love using all sorts of food for sensory play and lately we've started experimenting with jelly play a lot more. Bub loves it because she can help to make it as well as play with at the end, and of course its edible so she can eat it too. We put together a really simple spooky jelly with some orange jelly, snake, teeth and mouth lollies. You could probably find more spooky lollies in special Halloween lolly packs, but we just grabbed some normal lollies from the supermarket in our weekly shop, so this is as spooky as it got. Add the lollies when the jelly has cooled, but is still relatively liquid if you want them to fall down into the jelly {we added them too late so they sat on the top, but apparently still tasted just as good}.

WITCHES SOUP


Spooky witches potion

For a super quick play activity that will keep the kids entertained for hours, grab a plastic Halloween container {we used an old jack-o-lantern container from last year} and make some witches soup. Simply fill the container with water and various plastic Halloween themed critters, we used bats, rats, spiders, snakes and a few bugs. If you don't have a Halloween themed container you could always use a plastic tub and dye the water orange with a few drops of food colouring. Add extra cups, spoons, tweezers or tongs to extend the play.

HALLOWEEN PHONICS FUN


Twinkly halloween printable phonics game

For a break from the sensory play and to add in some more educational learning, keep the kids entertained with these cool Halloween phonics printables from Twinkl. We printed and laminated them and then she used pegs to mark the correct letters. You could also use clear glass pebbles or simply circle the letter. For more fun themed activities search Halloween on Twinkl for printable colouring in pages, games, puzzles and paper models.

For even more Halloween themed activities visit my Halloween pinterest board and if you want more everyday play and learning activities for toddlers visit my Instagram feed.

Happy Halloween everyone!

Toni x

Linking with Kell, Denyse and Alicia

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Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Teletubbies Musical Lullaby Laa-Laa

I have a confession to make, I actually like watching kids shows on tv. Yep, I'm one of those mums who automatically sings along to all the theme songs when the shows come on. Which is probably a good thing because I've caught myself watching ABC Kids more than a few times when bub's not even next to me. Everyone's done that, right? I can't help it, I {not so} secretly love cartoons. I'm also loving that a lot of the old shows from my own childhood are back again now, it's so much fun reliving them with bub. I still remember the joy I felt watching them the first time around and now I get to see her face light up the same way.

One of her favourite shows as the moment is the Teletubbies. The Teletubbies first aired in 1997 and recently returned to our screens after a hiatus from 2002. The show follows the adventures of Tinky Winky, Dipsy, Laa-Laa and Po, four lovable pre-school characters who each have touchscreen bellies and different shaped antennas on their heads. The Teletubbies communicate non verbally or through babbling much the same as toddlers. Bub is captivated by the show because of the bright colours, relatable characters and everyday adventures that they go on in each episode. I remember my favourite was always the purple Teletubbie {who I thought was Po, but is actually Tinky Winky, whoops}, but bub has a huge soft spot for Laa-Laa. 

These days there's so much merchandise that goes hand in hand with popular kids tv shows. There's a plethora of characters, games and toys that can be purchased so children can recreate their favourite shows at home through creative play. Other parents may argue that everything is being over commercialised, but I happen to love that these items allow kids to bring their favourite characters to life and extend on the show story-lines through their own imaginary play. Since the Teletubbies have marched back onto our tv screens recently they're now also a firm fixture in many toy shops. There's a huge range of Teletubbies merchandise available including plush toys, figurines, play sets, and our favourite Lullaby Laa-Laa.


Lullaby Laa-Laa has been living with us for a couple of weeks now and she's quickly become bub's favourite bed time friend. Bub has never really had a comforter or favourite toy that she takes everywhere, but Laa-Laa has quickly become a much needed bedtime buddy and she won't go to bed without her. I've enforced a rule that she isn't allowed out of the bedroom though, mainly to make sure she stays clean and also to ensure she never gets lost, because I don't even want to imagine the meltdown that would ensue if she ever goes missing. Thankfully for now she's abiding by my rule and Laa-Laa happily resides in bub's bed day and night.

Lullaby Laa-Laa isn't your average stuffed toy either, she's a combination of plush toy, musical toy and night light. When her tummy is pressed she comes to life playing twinkle, twinkle little star alongside a colourful light show that shines from her belly. Although bub already has her ice-cream night light beside her bed, she loves watching the colourful light show twinkle across the ceiling. Most nights she watches it continuously for about 10 minutes as she's falling asleep cuddling Laa-Laa.



We're still using Lullaby Laa-Laa on the try me setting so she plays the song and lights up when bub presses her, but she can also be set to other functions. The song can be set to play for 5, 10 or 15 minutes or there's also a night light only mode which fades away over time. For now bub's loving being able to press the song on whenever she wants and surprisingly enough she doesn't do it to the point that it's annoying so we haven't changed the settings yet.

Lullaby Laa-Laa would make a great Christmas or birthday gift for little Teletubbie fans {she was actually on my Christmas list for bub before we got the opportunity to do this review}. She's available from Big W, Myer, Target, Kmart, Kid Stuff, Toyworld and Mr Toys. For any customer enquiries or more stockist information please email customerservice@bigballoon.com.au.


Did/does your child have a favourite toy or night light?

Toni x

Disclosure - I was gifted a Musical Lullaby Laa-Laa for the purpose of review. All opinions expressed are my own based on our experience with the product. I did not receive payment for this review.

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