Wednesday, October 09, 2013

-Updated- Who Stole the Cookie From the Cookie Jar? A Review, a Giveaway and the Winners!

Every morning, the twins and I sit down and get some work done. This is just to get them used to a homework routine where they sit down, do table work and be serious about what they are doing. When we are hard at work, Muffin feels extremely left out. We try to time his bath at that time so that he is busy and distracted. Unfortunately, his bath doesn't last for an entire hour; he would end up being very shriveled and prune like if it did.

Anyway, I've tried to split my time between him and the twins. We play little games that are 2-3 minute long so that I can pop back easily to see what the twins are up to. It's not so much watching the tennis match, as it is being the tennis ball going back and forth.

His ways of occupying himself include climbing all over me, lying on the ground playing with his lion and tiger or attempting to draw cocoons, caterpillars, sting rays and sharks on his Etch-a-Sketch. What he really likes is when I  cut up pictures and do craft with him; glue being his favourite toy. The problem with giving a three year old glue, however, is that it gets used with impunity and ends up every where.

But generally, the rule of thumb is that he likes 'doing' things. Last week, I tried something new with him and he had a lot of fun with it. We've repeated it a couple of times and he's had to fight his brother and sister for it.

I'm going off tangent here but I love shopping. But since JED, the shopping has been severely limited to things for them rather things that I like and want for myself. And one of the things I love for them are well-made toys. With 3 of them, I'm big on toys are that durable; that can endure the abuse that they unleash on it. I'm also big on toys that don't limit the way they can play with them; character toys, toys requiring batteries, I'm not so big on. Toys that they have to manipulate, that they can play with on their own and with each other are a big check, in my book. One of the brands I've fallen in love with are the toys from Learning Resources. The twins recently got a solar powered cash register for their birthday from there; a toy that didn't require batteries and they spent hours playing supermarket checkout; it warranted an exploration of what else they had. 

And then, enter The Mind Store, a  Singapore seller that sells toys (Learning Resources and Educational Insights among others) that fit my criteria. I spent hours looking at the website, wishing for all the money, space and time in the world to buy and use all the toys with JED. Recently, they were nice enough to send me a cookie jar full of alphabet cookies.

Evan's first question was whether he could eat the cookies. Jordan broke out her cooking set and insisted on baking some of the cookies most narcissistically in her name. Here she is, glazing her cookies with a brush.



And Muffin, Muffin just claimed it for himself. After all, his siblings were supposed to be busy with their homework. Of course, there was the constant imploring of "Mommy, play with me". So I did, I got him to find the cookies to spell his name.

On top of that, the set came with instructions, suggested games and game cards. One of games had pictures of his favourite animals with their names albeit with a letter missing. This is probably to help teach the little ones phonics; simple d (consonant)- o (vowel)- g (consonant) words. But Muffin, being an expert schooled by Youtube did not want or need my help or guidance in trying to sound out the "d" in "dog" . In fact, he swatted me away when I tried to help him.  While able to do that, he obviously, he had no idea of what reading meant because instead of going d-o-g,  "dog", he would go d-o-g, " 狗" or c-a-t , " 猫"; letter recognition and individual phonetic recognition present but no real understanding of how the letters are put together to make a word.

But then again, he's only 3 and probably uses more of his brain to figure out which tree is safe to climb. 



Anyway, the verdict.

In my book, this set is a win.

1. Is it durable? It's made out of hard plastic and no matter how much he throws it and tosses it, they just bounce back at him. That in itself entertained him for quite a while.

2. Could they be played with, more than one way? Yes. Muffin lined them up and made them into alphabet trains. He placed them on plates and served them to everyone as cookies. Jordan did the same thing though her presentation was more sophisticated and hers went in the 'oven' first.


3. Could the game be played without me? Yes it could. There were more than enough pieces to go round. Both Evan and Jordan wanted to play with Muffin after they were done with their work. The games in the set were self-explanatory. They categorised all the letters according to colour. Evan laid out all the alphabet cards and Jordan told him to go look for the letters to match the cards. He obediently did. This left me time actually have breakfast and read a little bit while JED played around me.


4. The set could be played by all three of them and the twins requested to do their school spelling with the letters. (That's where the one problem with the set came up. Insufficient letters to properly spell more complicated sight words that had double consonants or vowels in them)


And the million dollar question: Would I have bought this set if they didn't send me one? Probably. It's $35.90. I may have waited another 2 months or so, to use whatever spare change I might have to pay for it (it's non-essential in a sense!) but I would have eventually got it. 

So, for those who have an ongoing love-hate (love the items but hate the price) relationship with well-made, educational toys, The Mind Store has  decided to offer Diaperbag readers three $10 vouchers* to shop at their store. Here's how you can win one.



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

1. "Like" The Mind Store on Facebook  then head over to The Mind Store's Online Store and have a look around.


2. Leave a comment here about what got your drooling at the store (Don't forget to do so by 17 October 2013). Be sure you leave your name and email address so that we can actually get in touch with you.


3. Share this post on your public wall so that your friends know that these great learning aids and toys exist out there!

Q. E. D.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------  
And the winners are...
1. Mel
2. Jeanette
3. Andrew

Hurray for you all! The Mind Store will be contacting you soon!

* Vouchers will only be valid for Learning Resources and Educational Insights items

Disclaimer: We got a complimentary jar of ABC cookies for this review. No other monetary compensation had been received. The views and pictures are all Diaperbag's. 

10 comments:

  1. Hey Shereen,

    I think the Rainbow Peg Play Activity Set would really keep my 19-month-old son occupied for a while. He LOVES stacking things and our house is filled with all his little piles.

    Cheers,
    Mel (mellie.writes@gmail.com)

    ReplyDelete
  2. My son would really like the 'The Design & Drill Take Along Toolkit' as he loves Handy Manny very very much!

    Cheers,
    Andrew
    (andrew.wong017@gmail.com)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hey Shereen,

    So many things to choose from, how could I ever select one?! My 20 month old Amelia has recently started becoming more fascinated with the alphabet, so the alphabet cookie jar would be a lovely addition to her toy stash. Or the Miniland magnetic letters, to let her turn the freezer doors into her own learning space. Maybe magnetic letters would also help her improve her fine motor skills, since she refuses to play with Duplo or sorting cubes!

    Love,
    Jeanette. (jhkwek@gmail.com)

    ReplyDelete
  4. The EI 5304 - GeoSafari® Vega 360 Telescope looks amazing, even for an adult!

    Carol
    cmeilim@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  5. This is fantastic!!!! My daughter has started taking a very keen interest in puzzles and matching picture cards!!!! This will be a great Christmas present for her and her brother!!!!!

    Magdalene
    magdalenestc@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  6. The alphabet cookie jar!! Love to have one for my 2 young kids!!

    Elim220380@gmail.com
    Evelyn

    ReplyDelete
  7. EI5177 - GeoSafari® Dino Digs Triceratops will be so awesome for my dino-loving boys!

    Robert_sim@yahoo.com

    ReplyDelete
  8. Everyone makes me want to do more shopping! :)
    Don't forget to share it on a public post on Facebook so your friends will know!

    Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  9. I would like to get the pretend and play doctor set!

    Ting
    Tinkene@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  10. I've always have my eye on the cooking sentence board game!

    ReplyDelete