Product Review and Giveaway

Well, after a small amount of drama, I received a package of doll's house furniture last week from to review. To be honest, it wasn't the first lot of furniture I received (hence the drama). When I opened the first box, quite a few pieces were no longer put together. But, to the credit of Maree from buyster, the issue was dealt with very promptly with a great amount of apology and a huge effort to rectify the problem. A great example of fantastic customer service.

My new box of "Annie's Furniture Set with Ladybug Pattern" arrived just a couple of days later, much to the delight of my Emily who was very keen to get her hands on it after seeing it the first time. It just so happened that she was in the middle of a game with her 'Littlest Pet Shop' pieces and the furniture worked in beautifully with the game she already had going. This is the beauty of doll's house furniture, you don't necessarily need a doll or a house to enjoy it.

The furniture itself is wooden and painted white with a gorgeous little ladybug and flower design on it. There were lots of different pieces in the box, certainly enough to furnish a whole house. Apart from the staples - tables, chairs, lounge suites and a bed etc, there were also some sweet little extras like a table lamp, a floor lamp, a bath, a TV, an oven and a couple of wardrobes with doors that open and close with shelves to put things on, 19 pieces in all. It really is a very sweet set, the kind that makes grown-ups go 'awww' and want to take a closer look (which is what my father-in-law did when he came to visit the other night) and makes children want to get in and play. Ed wasn't even put off by the girly design, he is itching to get his cars involved.

Unfortunately, a couple of pieces in the second box had fallen apart too. It seems as though in a couple of cases, the glue just hasn't worked to stick the pieces together. It really is a shame because apart from that, it is an absolutely gorgeous set of furniture that any girl would love. I'll be getting out my glue to fix the two broken pieces in the second box, because I know we have a lot of playing with this furniture ahead of us. have a $30 gift voucher to give away to an 'everyday play' reader. All you need to do is leave a comment below to enter. It could be something as simple as 'I'd like to win please!'. The voucher can be spent in any of buyster's stores. There's a great range of play rugs (including the one that Ed has that has featured in many of my posts) as well as toys and children's furniture. Unfortunately, only Australian residents are eligible to enter. You have until Monday March 8th at 1pm(EDT)
to leave a comment. Good luck!

Packing Up

Packing away toys at the end of a busy day of play is a job no-one in our house enjoys. The majority of the time, the children are encouraged to clean up after themselves and take responsibility for their own belongings, but I understand that sometimes it's hard to be motivated to pack up, especially when there are a lot of toys to go away.

For these tough times, I've invented a game we like to call "Job Step". It's quite a bit of fun and doesn't actually involve me doing any of the tidying, I just need to be around to run the game. I think it's effective because it breaks down the task of packing up (which can be overwhelming for young children) and gives an extra motivation for packing up (because, let's face it, when you're 3 and 6 years old, the prospect of tidy lounge room is not motivation enough!).

How we play:
- We have some steps going down to our lounge room, so the children sit on the "job step" (hence the name) and await their instructions.
- I then assign each child a small, easy job. I say it in a quick, fun way though, so it sort of sounds like a race eg. I'll say "Right, Em, put all the plastic animals back in their container, go!" "Ed, take your shoes to your bedroom, go!"
- They then rush around, completing their task until it's all done, then run back to their step to wait for their next job.

It's a really simple way to manage packing up time and the kids love it. Sometimes I make it a bit fun and silly by commentating on the packing up like a horse racing race -caller and other times we have a tiny sticker at the end of each job. But most of the time, we just play the simple version and the packing away is done before we know it.

Animals, Animals, Animals

I've included a small container of animals in amongst Ed's trains and cars and these are being incorporated in his play more and more. Sure, they generally ride around in the back of a ute or train carriage, or the cars and trains visit a 'zoo' he has set up, but I'm glad to see him including the animals in his made up stories.

Branching out into a new interest area like this helps development in so many ways. It builds on his mental catalogue of objects in his world, builds his memory and recall, helps him to expand his understanding of social rules and norms and encourages him to notice new and interesting facts when we're out and about.

For instance, we visited the museum on Friday and Ed took a great interest in the animals and creatures displayed there, learning the names of new animals and finding out about where and how they live. Talking about and playing with animals at home has really helped to trigger this interest.

I doubt he will ever embrace the animal kingdom in the way he loves his cars, trains and trucks, but it's really important to introduce children to new things and broaden their horizons. Introducing new open-ended, imaginative toys into play is a great way to do this.

Coming soon ..

In the next couple of weeks I will be having my first product review and give-away courtesy of 'buysterbedroom' (to Australian residents only, sorry). A $30 gift voucher will be up for grabs to put towards anything from doll's house furniture to play mats to bunk beds. I will provide more details soon, so stay tuned ........