Sunday, January 31, 2021

Starter Set, by SumBlox

Nature/ Type:         Mathematics Wooden Blocks 

Rating:                   ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Recommended age: 3 year-old ++

Who would love this: Parents and Kids who love numbers and stacking 

SumBlox starter set- this is by far the best mathematics educational toy I have ever seen. They are sturdy, durable, suitable for playgroup, childcare centres, schools, kindergartens, homeschooling, or playtime at home with kids. I love that it can be used for learning purposes, or just stacking and building tall structures. 

Why I love ❤️ it: 

(1) Fun Mathematics: Doing mathematics in a visual and fun way. Each block represents a number; the bigger the number, the higher the block (apart from number 1 where you always need to place horizontally in order to get the right height). Stack the blocks up, and if the numbers add up, the heights will match. So if you place 3, 2 and 5 right on top of each other, it will have the same height as the number 10 block. 

(2) Wooden Design- it’s lovely to look at, and make beautiful decorative piece for any living space. 

(3) Stacking Game: even if a kid is too young to know about number, she can still stack them up and get some hand-eye coordination training. 

One warning: the blocks are made of hard solid wood, so they are heavy, loud, and painful if the stack of blocks collapses on you. So be really careful when you have young kids around. Watch the video below to see the SumBlox stacking in action. 

Duplo Steam Park Building Set, by Lego Education

Nature/ Type:         Construction & Building Toy 

Rating                  ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ 

Recommended age: 3 to 5-year-old

Who would love this: Lego Duplo lovers 

We know Lego is awesome. But what if we can combine the joy of building and creating, with the fascination in the world of science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics? That, is Lego Education, a whole new level of awesomeness. This Duplo steam park building set has been a big hit in this household. The kids love building all sorts of structures according to the idea sheets or simply creating their own unique inventions of crazy rides. They are as usually, colourful, fun, and amazingly versatile when it comes to building and creating. 

Why I love ❤️ this Duplo steam park building set? 

(1) Entertaining Amusement Park Theme: who doesn’t love amusement park with their crazy rides, fast and furious, games and winning? This set has all the pieces for kids to create an entertaining park of their style. 

(2) Engineering Skills: it combines education with creative build; a long crazy ramp that allows car to speed down in full velocity, a canon that shoots, spinning gears and cogs, pulleys and some crazy rides that swing and circle around. Each has its own little knowledge and engineering wisdom to impart. 

(3) Independent Play. Yes, both of my kids spend almost an hour creating and recreating. This is an absolute value for money investment. 

Enjoy the video below and see how we can utilise the different clever gears and duplo parts to create an amusement park that actually comes “alive” with rides moving around! 

Penguin Pool Party, by SmartGames

Nature/ Type:         Brain Teaser 

Rating                  ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 

Recommended age: 6-year-old and above

Who would love this: puzzle-solving / penguin lovers who like dealing with irregular shapes 

Penguins Pool Party- this is another of my absolute favourite from SmartGames. We have great fun time moving the ice pieces around trying to fit into the empty spaces to solve the puzzles. The irregular shapes add on to the challenge, but we love those “trials and errors” moments. Solving each puzzle is a little accomplishment on its own! 

Why I love ❤️ this: 

(1) Visual Challenges: As usual, Smart Games is all about brain puzzle in a fun and visual way. We have 4 cute penguins, 4 ice blocks, and a booklet of 60 challenges of different difficulty level. This is another great investment where adults and kids get to train up our puzzle-solving skills, a fantastic game that can be enjoyed by a 4 year-old or a 99 year-old. 

(2) Easy Instructions: This game has simple instructions that make sense to young kids. First, set the penguins’ locations according to the challenge booklet, then arrange the 4 ice blocks around the penguins. The fewer the penguins, the harder the challenge. 

(3) Easy Storage: The game board, penguins and ice blocks can be compactly fit into a container. This is a game that can be easily thrown into a bag and brought along on the road. 

Where to buy this: (Australia) 

Enjoy the video below and see the puzzle solving in action. 

Bamboo Building Set with House, by Qtoys

Nature/ Type:         Construction and Building Toy of Natural Materials

Rating                  ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 

Recommended age: 3-year-old and above

Who would love this: Montessori-inspired parents who love toys with natural materials; kids who love building houses and structures  

It’s no secret that I love Qtoys - its unique and earthy design, using natural materials, in line with Montessori-inspired educative concepts. Bamboo Building Set With House by Qtoys is one of my other favourites. There are something special about toys made of natural materials: they are pleasing to the eyes, each set is slightly unique on its own, and crafted with so much love and care. 

Why I love ❤️ this toy: 

(1) Creative Design: It comes with 40 pieces of bamboo and acacia wood of all sorts of heights and shapes. Houses, ladders, stilts, walls. It encourages flexible play and story-telling. 

(2) Beautiful Set: it looks pretty in any toy rooms and makes instagram-worthy pictures. 

(3) The Materials: Safe and eco-friendly natural materials. 

(4) Building Skills: to balance and build a structure that can withstand weight, that’s our little engineers in the making! 

 Love this!! Enjoy the video below and watch the building in action! 

Bosch Breakfast Set, by Klein Toys

Nature/ Type:         Pretend Cooking & Tea Set 

Rating                  ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 

Recommended age: 3-year-old and above

Who would love this: Cooking + kitchen lovers

This is Klein Toys’ Bosch Breakfast Set - I am super impressed with how real and mechanically-clever toys are these days! The kids love this set. My older boy loves preparing toasts with egg and coffee for mumma, and the baby is obsessed with pouring imaginative tea for everyone with her stylish new kettle. I guess you can’t really go wrong with kitchen and tea set, especially when it’s cleverly designed, looks real, and has “functional” buttons and sounds. 

Why I love ❤️ this: 

(1) Realistic Design: The set has realistic design with smart mechanic function- press the toaster down and watch how the toasts pop-up within seconds with a magical “ding” sound. (Breakfast is done!!) And if you don’t mind a bit of messy play, pour some water into the battery-operated coffee maker and watch the water “brews” and flows out. Really clever. 

(2) Trendy Colour- bright red is the right colour for any modern kitchen! 

(3) Buttons & Clicks: Pretend play that actually feels real. I’m loving all the little buttons and clicks. Very thoughtful design, this toy is taking the words “imaginative play” to a whole new level. 

Enjoy the video below to see how the clever set works! 

Brownie Match, by Educational Insights

Nature/ Type:         Board Game

Rating                  ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 

Recommended age: 4-year-old and above

Who would love this: Our mini brownie lovers with great memory 

Brownie Match by Educational Insights- any games involving foods (especially fudgy chocolate brownie with rainbow sprinkles) get a BIG tick from this foodie family! This is our kids’ latest favourite and is a highly demanded playtime item. It’s lovely brownies time, with spatulas, spinner, and tray. What can go wrong really? 

Why I love ❤️ this game: 

(1) Spatula & Brownie: the brownie is so realistic I swear I can smell the baked chocolatey aroma! Love the spatula flipping idea. Although it’s not the easiest thing to do, holding the spatula while spinning the spinner gives us some silly giggles! 

(2) Matching Game in a Creative Way- we are not turning over picture cards this time, but delicious-looking brownies! How good is that? 

(3) Little Twists Here and There- Spin your spinner and see what adventure awaits you- You might get to steal a brownie from your opponent, get a “spilt milk” and missed a turn, burnt your brownie and needed to throw one away from your plate, flip over a star or spin a bonus chance. Clever, fun, good old family game. 

Have fun enjoying the video below for some spatula tossing in action! 

Smart Farmer, by SmartGames

Nature/ Type:         Brain Teaser

Rating                  ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️  

Recommended age: 5-year-old and above

Who would love this: Farm + puzzle lovers 

Smart Farmer by SmartGames is one of the smartest things I have ever seen. It’s fun to look at, fun to play with. Farm theme as usual is highly popular in this household, and the puzzles itself is as usual, challenging both for kids as well as for adults. 

Why I love ❤️ this: 

(1) Farm Theme: smart logical game in a farm theme, with daintily crafted animals - 2 horses, 2 pigs, 2 cows, 2 sheep, and 3 water troughs. 

(2) Simple Concept and Instructions. First, place the animals at the position as shown in the challenge booklet. The aim is to divide the meadows using three fences, so that the same type of animals would be grouped together within the closed area. 

(3) Different Levels of Difficulty. Young kids can easily accomplished the first few challenges, from Starter Level and move on to Junior Level. The adults can continue up to Expert and Master levels with the more challenging tasks of separating animals with their own water trough. 60 challenges, good value for money! 

(4) Individual Or Group Play: This is one cool game that can be played alone or in a group. 

(5) Brain Game: keep your brain active! Perfect Covid-19 lock-down and prevent idleness game! 

Oh, sooo loving it! Enjoy the video for some puzzle solving fun! 

Where to buy this: (Australia) 

Symphony in B, by B. Toys

Nature/ Type:         Music

Rating                  ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️  

Recommended age: 3-year-old and above

Who would love this: Musical instruments lovers

Symphony in B by B. Toys - This set is simply ingenious. It’s a music learning toy of a whole new and insane level. The kids love it, the adults are enchanted by it! I think this is one that can be kept for a long time where kids and adults can spend time playing with it, or simply just enjoy the beautiful music demo recorded. 

Why I love ❤️ this toy: 

(1) Educative: Fun way to learn about musical instruments. Simply move the instrument token one by one to the orchestra pit at the middle, listen to the beautiful piano melody, join in some sweet gentle sound of guitar, kick in some tempo with the drum, and elevate the liveliness with a woodwind clarinet. Sometimes, we play “guessing” game with the kids, asking them to shut their eyes, listen, and take a guess of the instrument’s sound. It is super fun! 

(2) Clever Design & Functionality: we can change the tempo, volume, press the buttons to learn about instruments belonging to the “brass” or “strings” family, listen to the demo and so on. It’s a toys jam-packed with surprises! 

(3) Shape & Colour Sorter: apart from playing amazing music, this is also a shape and colour sorter toy. 

In short, this toy is a real keeper. Enjoy the video below to see some music making in real and exciting action! 

Monkey Bingo Game, by Popular Playthings

Nature/ Type:         Board Game

Rating                  ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️   

Recommended age: 4-year-old and above

Who would love this: Bingo lovers (and anyone who loves cheeky monkeys) 

Monkey Bingo Game by Popular Playthings. This is a bingo game with a funny and interesting twist. It’s full of action with exciting cheeky monkeys, and lovely creative game. 

Why I love ❤️ this: 

(1) Clever Push-able Banana Crate! The bingo caller or the players can take turn to push the little cheeky monkey towards the crate dispenser, and “pop” - out comes a card with two animals! 

(2) Animals Learning: it’s a great fun way for young kids to learn about animals: panda, owl, elephant, bear, horse, lizard, cow and so on. When I’m with the baby, we used the tiles like educative flash cards.

(3) Quick Game: This can be used as a quick game before bedtime (each game takes around 3 to 5 minutes for the 16 tiles to be dispensed out from the crate). But beware, kids usually want to play this again and again! 

(4) Neon Green Chips: I love the neon green chips as a way to “mark” the bingo card. 

Enjoy the video below for some banana crate pushing action. 

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Wooden Scoop and Serve Ice Cream Counter, by Melissa & Doug

Nature/ Type:         Pretend-Play 

Rating                  ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️  

Recommended age: 3-year-old and above

Who would love this: Ice cream lovers (and anyone who has a dream of becoming an ice-cream vendor)

I always have the special soft spot for everything coming from Melissa & Doug! It’s the quality, and little touch of cleverness. This set of Wooden Scoop and Serve Ice Cream Counter brings the game of pretend ice cream vendor to another exciting level! It is a hugely popular item in this household, where both of my kids (1 and 4 year-old) love immensely. We had loads of amazing pretend play time together with ice cream ordering, scooping, and creating. 

Why I love ❤️ this: 

(1) Clever Ice Cream Scooper:  really cleverly- designed and realistic ice cream scooper (each colourful scoop fits nicely into the scooper, and easily “released” with a press at the top). Watch the video by swiping left! 

(2) Yummy Menu - ohhh chocolate chips, strawberry, coffee, vanilla, cookie dough, rocky roads.... and saliva-inducing toppings caramel fudge, more strawberry, rainbow sprinkles..... slurp slurp slurp 

(3) Mathematic Skills- each scoop and topping is $1, so how much should I pay for this giant ice cream? Oh free for you mummy! “Dollar bills” included. 

(4) Wooden Design - sturdy! 

(5) Family Time: kids spend loads of time playing this, and adults get to join in the fun too (just need to sit on couch and pretend to be bossy customer 😂). Quality time at home! 

Enjoy the video below for some real scooping and creating action! 

Qwirkle, by MindWare

This game is our family’s latest addiction!!! It’s rare to have a game where kids as young as 4 can enjoy it as much as an adult of 99. I think this Qwirkle game by MindWare fits the bill just nicely. This is a perfect keeper for a fantastic board game night where young kids and adults get to have fun together! 

Why I love ❤️ this- 

(1) Scrabbles + Matching Game Combined: This is a game that crosses between scrabbles and matching game. Invokes that little nostalgia in any one of us! 

(2) Easy Instructions- 6 tiles in a row either of same colours with different shapes OR same shape with different colours. Once you form the “6”, you get a Qwirkle of 12 points. You also get to earn point for every tile you add on. The 4-year-old loves counting the points 😊 

(3) Strategize: adults get to strategise to maximise points. It’s a “brain” game that can play in a simple easy way, or more “complicated” manoeuvre. 

(4) Bright Attractive Colours: red, orange, blue, green, yellow and purple! 

(5) Great Replay Value - worth investing your money in, and each game takes around 15 to 30 minutes to complete (and the kids would want another round!) 

Rating: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ 

Recommended age: 6 years and above (although my 4 year-old absolutely LOVES this) 

Jewellery Creation Kit, by Fun Factory

Nature/ Type:         Jewellery Making

Rating                  ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️  

Recommended age: 4-year-old and above

Who would love this: Bead- stringing lovers (yes, it's therapeutic!)  

Gone were the days when jewellery creation was exclusively the “girls” thing. It’s colourful, keeps the kids busy and focused, and therapeutic for the adults. 

Why I love this kit ❤️- 

(1) Occupy Time in Fun Way: To string together the beads would require quite a few quality minutes to get done. So, a great way to keep the kids sit still for a while; 

(2) Creativity: There are wide variety of colours and beads for different combinations of design. Never-ending creations! 

(3) Neat Storage: easy to carry around in a wooden box; 

(4) Family Time: adults can join in the game too; 

(5) Focus-Training - you need full concentration to get this done. 

The only downside is that you can’t get this jewellery creation kit out when there is a younger kid around (choking hazard alert!). And don’t get me started with beads on floor and obscure places in the house! 🤣

Pigs in Pants, by Orchard Toys

Nature/ Type:         Board Game

Rating                  ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️  

Recommended age: 4-year-old and above

Who would love this: Matching-game lovers (especially one who loves cute piggie and colourful underpants)

Pigs in Pants by Orchard Toys !! We haven’t been laughing THAT hard for a long time, and I can’t believe some piggies wearing colourful underpants can generate so much silly laughters! It’s a crazily noisy game with loads of “No Knickers” and “I’m going to pinch your pants” and “nick your knickers” shouts. Highly “inappropriate” but oh so funny!!!! 

Why I love 💓 the game- 

(1) "Underwear" Theme: anyone who has a 4-year-old will be able to tell you how these little people are obsessed with colourful underwear. Just look at how many successful children books in the market that are based on that theme; 

(2) Matching Game in Exciting Way- it tests your “matching” skills and quickness in response. 

(3) Easy Instructions - easy to be understood by pre-school kids; 

(4) Funny Rules- there are not many occasions where kids are legitimately allowed to steal underpants from anyone; 

(5) Catchy Phrases. Trust me, saying “no knickers”, “pinch your underpants”, “nick your knickers” can be “addictive”. 

(6) Fun Design: the colours and designs of the underpants and knickers- it’s one inspirational session for future fashion designer 😂. 

Garden Fresh Kitchen, by Step2

Nature/ Type:         Cooking/ Kitchen Pretend-Play 

Rating                  ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️  

Recommended age: 3-year-old and above

Who would love this: mini chefs who love spending time cooking and baking 

Now this little kitchen “sparks joy” (quoting Marie Kondo). It’s cool to look at, fun to play with, and oh that cooking and boiling sound is just super realistic!!! I’m absolutely loving this Step2 Garden Fresh Kitchen! 

Why I ❤️ this? 

(1) Kitchen Pretend Play: We know all about adults who are obsessed with their kitchen. These little people are equally obsessed with their little kitchen world too! Just this morning, the 4-year-old served me a bowl of “fish curry” and “pasta-with-three-flavours”, and that girl in pic above boiled me some fresh mini wooden Jenga. 😋 

(2) Realistic Sounds: The sound produced by the electronic stove burner: sizzling frying sound when the pan is on, and bubbly-boiling sound when the pot in on. Smart, real, and no kidding, even the adults find it fun to play with! 

(3) Soft Colour - that’s what a contemporary, minimalist, back-to-basic home-feel kitchen should look like! Stylish!!! 

(4) Space Saving - just put this against the wall. It barely takes up any space although it’s supposed to be a “huge” toy. 

(5) Mini Storage Space: The set includes a mini "oven" and "fridge" - kids love putting things in and out. It’s like their “secret” hidden space for treasure and toys of all sorts. 

(6) Right Height: The kitchen has just the right height for both my 1.5 and 4 year-old. 

(7) Clever Turn-able Nozzle Arm: The spray nozzle arm that turns left and right- added fun for the kids! 

(8) Light Weight: With just 8.6 kg, so can be easily moved around if need to. 

(9) Steady Design and Stand Well - no safety concerns of knocking over. 

Magic Tree House, by Les Klorofil

Nature/ Type:         Imaginative tree house 

Rating                  ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️  

Recommended age: 3-year-old and above

Who would love this: Magical tree house lovers 

Magical and super cute, this one pulls the nostalgic heart strings of anyone (remember that 70s and 80s Tree Tots Family Tree House?). Press-able pop-up button, cute animal characters, dream house in nature, lots of imaginative fun: this is one beautiful piece for the kids’ toy room!

Why I love ❤️ it- 

(1) Nature-Inspired - a house built within the tree, how cool is that? 

(2) Pop-Up Design: Press the roof, pop-up tree house and reveal that secret funs within. 

(3) Detail: there is a bedroom, a kitchen, a living room, a moving up-and-down wind-up lift, an adorable swing, little car etc etc. So much to do, so much to explore! 

(4) Encourage Imaginative Play: just nice for small kids (or bigger adult kids)) 

(5) Neat Storage: Easily stored away within the house: just press the tree-roof down! 

That’s Magic Tree House from Les Klorofil. 

Ohh loving this ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

Enjoy the video below for some tree house popping-up fun. 

Magnetic Construction Toys, by Magformers

Nature/ Type:         Magnetic construction and building toy

Rating                  ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️  

Recommended age: 3-year-old and above

Who would love this: inspired builders who love magnetic tiles 

We discovered Magformers magnetic construction toys around a year ago, and oh how we have not stopped loving this since then. It keeps the kids and adults both entertained, and test your level of creativity. True extent of surprises that these clever magnetic pieces bring are simply, limitless! 

Why I love 💓 this toy: 

(1) Clever Design, it takes away the negative-positive-repelling each other present in a usual magnet. You can easily combine and rotate and build the structure flexibly  regardless of which position/side you are placing the magnetic pieces on each other. 

(2) Super Colourful!!! Just look at the pictures! Nuff said. 

(3) Family Time: the adults get to have fun too with kids of all ages! You may follow the instructions and build structures as challenging as a giant Eiffel Tower or a tall giraffe with a slightly arched neck, or just a simple cube or pyramid. Everyone can have fun. Our 18-month-old loves sticking them on fridge and watching numerous colourful patterns formed, our 4-year-old love using the extra accessories like wheels etc to get his structure done 

(4) Educative Toy: it’s educational- apart from building structures, some Magformer set has “activity sheets” available for kids to learn about shapes using the Magnetic pieces. Our boy loves those little activities. 

(5) Kids Love It!!! (Hint hint: self-entertained time and parents can have a coffee ☕️) 

Bus Stop, by Orchard Toys

Nature/ Type:         Board Game

Rating                  ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️  

Recommended age: 3-year-old and above

Who would love this: Bus lovers who like adding/ subtracting 

That’s “Bus Stop” by Orchard Toys. A clever game to help young kids with mathematics (“adding” and “subtracting” up to 10) in a fun and enjoyable way. Two to four players, “racing” to the bus stop, picking up and dropping off passengers along the way. Players take turn to roll two coloured dices at the same time: one to determine the number of spots that you may move forward, and the other to decide the number of passengers going on or off the bus (depending on whether you are stopping at the “plus” or “minus” spot). The player that arrives at the final stop with the most passengers is the winner! 

Why I love 💕 this game: 

(1) Simple Instructions: Easy instructions for a 4 year-old. The kids can learn the game within minutes. 

(2) Mathematics: I love how the game includes mathematics and counting in a fun way (kids love buses and any vehicles that move!), 

(3) Diversity Illustrations: The diversity of passengers showcase on each of the “passenger cards” is a nice and thoughtful touch! 

Animal Puzzle, by PlanToys

Nature/ Type:         Board Game

Rating                  ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ 

Recommended age: 3-year-old and above

Who would love this: Wooden toys + challenge lovers (or anyone who just love retro-looking pretty things)

Animal puzzle from PlanToys. This is one clever game gifted by a friend many years back. The game doesn’t seem to be available for sale  anymore (can’t find it online), so I would call it a little adorable piece of “antique”. 😂

Why I love ❤️ it: 

(1) The Wood Material: “earthy”, sustainable, and loving the cute colours and shapes of those animal tokens! 

(2) Simple Rules: the boy has been playing with this since 3 and is still loving it today (he’s 4.5 year-old now!). The aim is to place each of the four animals in the same quarter, and ensuring that the same kind of animal is not placed on each of the horizontal and vertical row. I am impressed how much fun and concentration this easy instruction generated! 

One “downside” is that each game can be ended really fast, the most we get to is 2 to 5 minutes per game, and we can play it 3 to 5 times consecutively when the kid is in the mood. So this is probably not the best toy to occupy a long-stretch of time, but is undoubtedly a good fun way for a little distraction from routine.