20 articles Tag toys

How Gender Normative Attitiudes are Damaging Our Kids

I’ve written before about how we don’t believe in gendered toys and that we encourage the girls to forget gender conformity when it comes to pursuing their interests, and for the most part it’s worked well. BB plays just as happily with toy cars and Nerf guns as she does with her Barbies, and Sausage goes to a martial arts class where she’s often the only girl. A phrase often uttered by me is “as long as you don’t need a penis to operate it, it’s not just for boys!” and despite the cringe caused by the word “penis” the girls are happy with this rule.

However, just recently, BB has run into some issues. It started a while back when she asked for some Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles underwear, and we discovered that they didn’t make them for girls. We did, however, find some stretchy boxers on the boy’s section of H&M which had TMNT print on them and decided that they were just as good as knickers and would probably be quite comfy. BB has worn them, happily, for months.

A couple of weeks ago, she was getting dressed for school and I’d laid out her TMNT boxers for her to wear, and she got a bit upset and said she didn’t want to wear them that day. I asked why and she said that it was P.E. day, so she’d have to get changed in front of her classmates, and she didn’t want anyone to see her in her boxers. It transpired that a few kids in her class had been taking the mikey and telling her that she shouldn’t be wearing that underwear because it was for boys. She told the girl who was mocking her that “Mummy couldn’t find any others for me to wear today”, but she shouldn’t have to feel like she needs to make an excuse.

She’s quite a resilliant kid, our BB, but it was clear that it was bothering her to have her classmates telling her that she was doing something “wrong”. I started trying to ensure that I gave her girly underwear on the days she had swimming or PE, but the whole thing sat really uncomfortably with me.

It gets worse.

BB’s school, like the rest of the country, offers free school meals in key stage one, but they recently got rid of their cold food provision, so if a child wants a cold lunch instead of a hot meal, they can now take a packed lunch. BB was super excited about this as she’s a little fussy with food AND wanted to show off her new lunch box. Her new Spiderman lunch box.

She’s used it twice, and BOTH times been told by some of her peers that her lunchbox is for boys.

The problem I’m having is this – what want her to do is to tell them all off about their gender normative attitudes and carry on using whatever she wants to cover her ass and carry her lunch. However, it’s not me who has to fight the battle, it’s her. I can encourage her to stick up for herself and tell her classmates where to shove it all I like, but at the end of the day, she’s the one who has to do it. Part of me wants to protect her feelings, buy her the pink knickers, buy her the LOL lunchbox and let her conform, but a MUCH bigger part of me wants to encourage her to stick to her guns and wear whatever she damn-well wants. We don’t raise kids to be compliant.

The whole thing has really stuck in my throat. The saddest part is, I’m not surprised. I still see posts on things like Facebook Marketplace on an almost daily basis of people looking for “toys for boys” or a “pushchair suitable for a girl”. We’re STILL, in 2019, so hung up on the outdated rules we’ve had drummed into us about what is for girls and what is for boys and it’s being passed onto the next generations.

We’ve given BB a pep talk and told her that the opinions of others are not important, and that she should carry on liking Spiderman and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles without worrying about what people think, and I’m hoping it sticks but there’s a chance that the damage has already been done. Daddy also made sure she had undies she felt comfortable in for PE days and bought her some in pastel colours. NOT that we should have needed to…

If you’re reading this and still teach your kids that toys and charachters are only for a specific gender, please join us in the 21st century and update what you’re teaching your kids, because I will NOT be teaching mine to tolerate that kind of bullshit.

(Also, is it any wonder we’re still having these problems when THIS is what comes up when you Google “TMNT girls”…because obviously, no ninja goes anywhere without their handbag and fucking stripper heels. EYEROLL)

Top Kids Gadgets on Very

Kids gadgets are constantly evolving and revolutionising the way our kids are being brought up. Back in the day, children would be happy with the latest Action Man figure or the new Polly Pocket series. Now, they are wanting iPad’s, drones and robotic walking, talking dogs. So, suppliers are having to keep up with the demand, and keep improving technology to get ahead of their competitors.

We are going to take a look at some of the top kid’s gadgets that you can buy from Very, showing you just how far the technology has come.

Power-Man Robot

Walking and talking toy robots are all the rage, and none more so than the Power-Man Robot. This toy has the ability to move backwards, forwards, left and right, and can even shoot foam disks!

It also has the ability to play music and pull out its best dance moves upon request. Power-Man can answer your kids’ questions, and he has the ability to record their voice and play it back to them. He also has educational content hidden away and can quiz your kids on trivia and present them with brain teasers.

Amazon Fire Tablet

Youngsters can use the Amazon Fire Tablet to learn and to play. They can use it to read their favourite books, as well as play some games featuring their favourite characters from Disney, Nickelodeon and Sesame Street to name but a few.

You can create up to 4 individual child profiles, and you can cater the content for each child, whether that be books, videos, games and apps. It features either a 7-inch/8 inch/10.1 inch touch screen and has a 1024 x 600 resolution which is perfect for playing games and watching videos.

The Amazon Fire Tablet keeps you in total control setting bedtime curfews and controlling the content they can view and screen time.

Guitar with Built-in Speaker

Do you have a budding Rockstar in your home? Then this may be perfect for them. If they’re a fan of playing the air guitar, then they’ll far prefer playing the real thing!

This guitar comes with a hardwearing maple neck, a hardwood body and rosewood fingerboard. It also comes with a built-in speaker so you won’t need to buy an external one, and your kids can put on their rock show wherever they like!

As you can see there are some great gadgets out there for kids. Technology is ever advancing, so keep your eyes peeled on Very for more in the future.

Top Toys That Develop Creativity in Children

Toys should not just be entertaining. For children, playing is life. Why not take this chance to help them develop their cognitive or problem-solving skills? A creative play toy box is not limited to just arts and crafts. Toys that spark their imagination or promote role-playing are just as good. The best creativity toys are those that kids want to keep on playing with rather than those they easily get tired of.

Puzzles

Puzzles allow kids to problem solve at their own pace. You might be tempted to help them, but step back and let them come up with their own strategies. Puzzles exercise the mind and challenge the way of thinking. Playing puzzles develops their cognitive and problem-solving skills, hand-eye coordination and fine motor development. Accomplishing a puzzle can bring satisfaction to them, boosting their social skills.

Building toys

Building blocks are great open-ended toys for children. Since they are open-ended, they promote open-ended play. They spark their imagination, develop their fine motor skills and allow them to solve problems. It is better to have them play with open-ended building blocks rather than those they will assemble to form a specific figure. Watch them create structures or combine blocks with other toys.

Artists tools

Kids love to write or draw whatever they like, so give them writing instruments to let them express creativity through art. Larger crayons or markers are great for smaller kids. Choose washable variants to minimize mess. Craft sets can be easily bought, and they are worth the investment.

Moulding dough and clay

Play-dough is another open-ended toy that encourages children to think while enjoying. The advantage of using this toy is that they can easily mash it together if they do not like what they created. It develops not just creativity but also fine motor skills, social skills when played with other kids, and even their sensory and language skills.

Dress up toys 

Dressing up offers benefits that you might never have thought about. It fosters imagination, allows children to explore themselves, helps establish their identity and improve their communication. Help them enjoy role-playing by gathering materials and accessories that reinforce the experience. They can put together a show and play with other kids, which also develops their social skills.

Pretend play toys

Toys such as food sets, kitchen items and the like all encourage imaginative play. Children love playing with food toys because they are exposed to food every day. This also allows them to imagine and combine things. This is best done with other kids to enhance their social skills. Dollhouses and dolls are girls toys that also foster creativity.

In the same way, toys which encourage kids to be curious about their surroundings provide a lot of stimulation. Kids see their parents using power tools and want to use play power tools like a toy lawn mower, fostering a love of practicality.

You should enhance their creativity first, before teaching kids to be innovative. Toys that foster this are certainly worth the investment. They teach children to be creative, to think flexibly and solve problems. As parents, it also pays to play with your children. Creativity always starts at home and is not only limited to arts and crafts; anything that exercises their minds and sparks their imagination helps kids become creative thinkers.

Image: Pixabay.com

Action Figures and Collectibles: Great DIY Ideas for Easy to Make Displays

Your collection of action figures, dolls, figurines or other collectibles is your pride and joy, so don’t hide them away. Display them in a way that shows them off and makes them look good, so that others can enjoy them as much as you do. Maybe you’ll learn to appreciate them, even more, yourself!

Homemade Wooden Display Case

It’s easier than you might think to build your own display case. You can get everything you need at your local hardware store. Simply pick up a 4’ by 2’ piece of plywood, some 1” by 2” furring strips and a box of finish nails.

Use your tallest figurine to determine the height needed for shelves. Then, cut the furring strips to the length needed for your frame and attach them with wood glue and your finish nails.

After the glue has dried, you can paint your display case if you like. You could also print out images, such as the logo for your collectibles’ brand and secure it using spray adhesive. After the paint has dried, all you have to do is enjoy your newly displayed collection.

Hand-Drawn Chalk Labels

Tired of people wanting to know about every piece in your collection and asking you endless questions? Okay, maybe not but with chalkboard paint, you can display your pieces and label them too.

Simply, purchase a can of chalkboard paint and color the back of your shelf with it. Then, you can write labels for each piece and add a bit of information about each one if you like. It’s like having your own museum display!

DIY Magnetic Display Board

For figurines that seem to float in mid-air, utilize the power of magnets. Attach a magnet to the back of a figurine using glue, mounting tape or sticky tack. Use tape or sticky tack if you want to easily be able to remove the magnets later.

Then, purchase a magnetic display board or make your own using a frame and a sheet of steel or tin. You can paint the sheet too if you so choose. Then, you can creatively position your classic figurines or retro-inspired pixel pals anywhere you like.

Creative Shelf Ideas

Got some old junk lying around? Why not turn it into a shelf?

Almost anything can be used as a shelf with a little creativity. Mount old drawers to the wall. Hang up a skateboard using L-brackets. Remove the front of a battered acoustic guitar and add some furring strips to the inside for shelves. Then attach a hook to the wall to hang it from.

Your collection is unique, so your display for them should be too. Just get a little innovative and see where your imagination takes you.

Displaying your collection can be half the fun of owning it, especially if you get a little creative with it. Your display for your figurines should be as unique as the collection itself, and it’s easier than you might think to build one yourself.

Interactive Toys For Kids – What Should I Buy?

Twas’ old Ben Franklin himself that said: “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” He might have had a point there you know. Involving your little one in the education process through play is a great way to give them a solid learning foundation.

There are lots of different toys on the market that encourage interactive play. Below I take a peek at the three main options.

Interactive Electronic Gadgets

Firstly we have the electronic interactive toys. Kids these days are natives of this arena, they grow up typing, watching youtube and generally being pretty computer savvy. Even if you are a bit of a Luddite, remember that, as a parent, you should be setting the boundaries for their device use. Limit time spent on media, especially before bed and nap time as the blue light emitted from some screen can have a ‘wake up effect’. Limit your child’s access to certain websites through security features and parental controls.

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Image source

An interactive gadget that you may want to consider is a tablet designed for kids. They come with shock proof coating and simple controls. Then you can add reading, matching and sorting apps so your little one gets lots of interactive play. It also means that your phone doesn’t constantly go missing because Peppa Pig is on. Don’t forget to get some volume controlled headphones too.

Interactive Toys That Have Electronic Elements

One of the best developments in toys recently, has been the interactive plushes and dolls. That’s right it’s a toy, that interacts with your child, but that they also will also want to snuggle!

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Picture source

There are quite a few different types on the market. You could try an electronic, and don’t worry i am not talking Tamagotchi here. Some of the newer designs use a smartphone or a tablet (not provided) and have a soft cover to surround it. It’s a great way of teaching your child responsibility, with none of the dog doo to clear up! Nice.

Although interactive dolls have been around for a while, they are a great way of stimulating your child’s imagination. While you can still get the old school tiny tears, I am glad to say that is not the only option on offer. There is plenty of gender neutral and aspirational interactive dolls out there, so don’t don’t let your old prejudice put you off.

Non-technological toys

Ah, non-electronic interactive toys, the quietest option by far! In this technological time, a nice change of pace can be an old fashioned style toy. They are still interactive, though, some would argue even more so as they require your child to do more of the imagination work. Classic choices for this category include Lego, wooden building blocks and Dinky toys like these British model buses.  

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Easy games with these sorts of toys that have an interactive element include, sorting, matching and counting games. To add another dimension to the play, why not paint backdrops and scenery as well?

“You Look Like a Girl”

boy dressed as princessThe other day, I needed to buy some new pillows so I went to the supermarket and was wandering around the clothing and home wares department having a browse. It was pretty quiet in there as it was only about 9.15am and there were only one or two other shoppers in the whole place. One other customer was a woman, probably in her mid-to-late twenties and her son, who obviously wasn’t quite school age yet, but still looked roughly 4-ish.

The kid was wandering around fairly unchecked and at one point started to try things on from one of those free-standing jewellery and accessory displays that turns – you know the ones, right? Anyway, he became particularly enamoured with a pair of novelty sunglasses which had red, heart-shaped frames. He put them on and after admiring himself in the tiny mirror for a few seconds, turned to his Mum and, with huge amounts of pride and happiness said “Mum! Look at me! I love these glasses!”.

The mother turned to him, narrowed her eyes and with pure vitriol in her voice said “Oh my god, take those off, you look like a girl”.

My initial reaction was one of sadness as I watched the boy, clearly deflated after being rebuffed by the mother from whom he’d so wanted a little bit of praise and affirmation, take off the glasses and put them gently back on the shelf. He looked really sad, and not in that “I wanted something and Mum wouldn’t buy it for me” way that kids do, but in a genuinely confused and upset way.  But the more I’ve thought about it, the madder I’ve felt.

Firstly, what is it about red, heart shaped glasses which is designated as a GIRLS ONLY thing? Even if you do subscribe to the (bloody annoying) notion that colours are somehow gendered, surely red is a pretty neutral colour? And hearts…I mean, do only girls have hearts?! Err, no.

Secondly, even if you do think that red, heart shaped glasses are ‘girly’, SO WHAT if he does look like a girl? How is that somehow a negative thing? Is it really so bad to let a child experiment with what they feel comfortable in and form their own notions of femininity and masculinity? I know loads of guys (Husband included on one or two occasions) who’ve worn pink and absolutely rocked it. They didn’t look like girls, they looked like MEN IN PINK, just like this little boy simply looked like a boy in heart-shaped glasses. There’s a big difference.

Also, I genuinely thought we were getting past the days of negative gender stereotypes? I see little boys on my friends’ Facebook timelines playing with dollies, pushchairs, vaccums, ironing boards; all toys which, even in my lifetime, would have firmly been in the girls toys aisle and equally, I see MANY girls playing with Thomas the Tank Engine – Burrito Baby got her own tool kit and farm vehicles for her 2nd birthday whilst Sausage’s favourite things are Pokemon, Match Attax and her NERF guns. But these are “boys toys”, no? Or, is it possible, that we can just have fun with things we like, regardless. Well, yes, obviously it is.

It makes me so sad to think that little boys are having their joy, their individuality and their creativity squashed by parents with an archaic notion of what it is to be a boy and I really dread to think about the issues that this could cause them as they grow up. As a parent, I strongly believe that, although it’s our job to guide our children in terms of morality, safety and care, it’s also really important to allow them to develop their sense of self.

What do you think? Would you allow your sons to wear red, heart-shaped sunglasses? Or do you think that boys should be boys and girls should be girls and that the old-fashioned line in the sand between the two genders should remain? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

We’re VTech Toot Toot Friends Ambassadors!

A few weeks back, Burrito Baby and I received the awesome news that we’d been chosen to be VTech Toot Toot Friends Ambassadors and would be receiving all of the new range to play with and review. As you can see, BB was over the moon! The smaller characters retail for around £8.99 each, while the Trot and Go Pony is £15.99. The Hospital playset is a very affordable £29.99 and even the Discovery Sounds House, which is the bigger of the two playsets, is only £44.99.

VTech Toot Toot Friends

What we discovered, being Toot-Toot Friends noobs, is that all of the playsets can link together, forming a big town, and each character can be used in all of the different areas. Want to take your horse to the hospital? Go right ahead! These areas are called ‘Magic Points’ and allows kids to use the individual  characters to interact with the play sets. There are also points within the Busy Sounds Discovery Home where characters can sing to one another, something that BB seemed to regard as being akin to magic!

BB has really good gross and fine motor skills for her age (I mean, the kid is NEVER still, even when she’s sleeping!) but all of the elements of the characters and the playsets were solid and easy to hold, even for the tiniest hands. It also feels like it would stand up to a whole lot of toddler punishment, too; BB has developed a habit of throwing things when she’s in a mood but I can’t see even the biggest toddler tantrum being able to do damage to the Toot-Toot Friends! That’s why when buying toys parents should always look at the sturdy toys. Durable gifts for 2 year olds that can endure hits and tantrums is important. Less money wasted, and more time for fun.

I really like the fact that these feel like “next level” toys in more ways than one; in terms of BB’s development, they feel more in-depth than all the other ‘flashing lights, ABC, 123’ toys that she has and they also feel like they incorporate all of the things that babies of this age love with the technological expertise the VTech is famous for. They’re interactive, educational and intuitive, all things which I think are important for development through play.

If I had ONE minor complaint, it’s that the stickers are a little bit fiddly to apply when you’re assembling everything, especially as some of them are located behind or inside certain parts. If you’ve got a steady hand, you’ll be fine, but the best advice I can give you is to assemble everything when you don’t have an excited, slightly tyrannical toddler climbing all over you.

I also think that selling all of the characters and sets separately is a great thing. It means that you can still buy Toot-Toots friends toys even on varying budgets, and if a birthday or Christmas comes around, the playsets can be bought as a main present, while the smaller components can be bought by friends or relatives to build a full and comprehensive collection.

BB and I feel like we’re off to a great start as ambassadors for VTech Toot-Toot Friends – we already love the toys and can seem them being a great source of fun and education for BB in the months to come.

Disney Princess Palace Pets Review

If you follow me on any social media, you’ll probably know that poor Sausage has been off school all week with tonsillitis. Every time we think she’s on the mend and ready to go back to school, she seems to get all run-down again, like today when she woke up with a stinking cold on top of it all. She’s feeling pretty droopy, so when a parcel arrived just for her yesterday, the timing couldn’t have been better. She’s had the Disney Princess Palace Pets app on Daddy’s iPad for a while now and she adores the game, which is basically a virtual grooming shop for all of the pets belonging to the various Disney Princesses, and the toys we were sent to review accompany the app.

Disney Princess Palace PetsThe main Disney Princess Palace Pets Pamper and Beauty Salon Play Set retails for around £33 and contains one Palace Pet (in this case it was Summer, a cat belonging to Rapunzel), and gives you a place to sit your animals while they’re being preened and pampered, as well as coming with various hair clips and brushes which can be used on tails and manes. We were also sent Blossom, Mulan’s Panda, Bloom, Aurora’s pony, and Treasure, a singing pussy cat who belongs to Ariel.

Sausage was absolutely over the moon with all of the toys, which seemed really true to the animations within the app (she immediately recognised Blossom as we pulled her out of the box!) and she’s been playing with it all pretty much ever since. All of the toys feel high quality and well made, although some of the parts are absolutely tiny, so I wouldn’t give them to smaller kids or those prone to putting things in mouths or up noses!

I like the fact that there are lots of different pets available, so if your child has a favourite princess you can buy the corresponding animal. The talking and singing cat is slightly larger than the other pets and as such retails for a slightly higher price (around £12.99, compared with around £5.99 for the smaller, non-talking pets) but I think all of the prices seem quite fair, given that it all feels sturdy and like it would last a while. This is definitely the sort of playset that I can see us putting away when Sausage has outgrown it, and passing it onto the baby shen she’s old enough for such toys.

This would make a great gift for any child who loves their Disney Princesses and it’s genuinely cheered my little lady up in a week which has been pretty miserable for her.

(post contains affiliate links)

Christmas Gift Ideas – Igloo Kids

One of the shops that I recently discovered is Igloo Kids. They have a gorgeous range of kids clothing, but they also sell toys, craft kits, back to school stuff and much more besides, so if you’ve got a lot of children to buy for this year you could kill a lot of birds with one stone buy checking this site out! Here are some of my favourite picks from the site:

Girls Clothes

Igloo Kids Girls Clothes
Igloo Kids Girls Clothes by jayne-crammond on Polyvore
The girls clothes on the site are so different to what you’d see on the high street. There a real feel of quality across the Igloo range and the styles manage to be chic without being too grown up. Sausage looks amazing in jade green because of her red hair and pale skin, so she’d look gorgeous in the things that I’ve chose here.

Boys Clothes

Igloo Boys Clothes
Igloo Boys Clothes by jayne-crammond on Polyvore
I don’t often look at little boys’ clothes, given that I only have a girl, but I love the smart casual selection of clothes I’ve chosen here. I think what I’ve picked would look great at the family dinner on Christmas day, but would still allow a little boy to run around and have fun in that way that little boys love to do.

Igloo Toys

Igloo Toys
Igloo Toys by jayne-crammond on Polyvore
I was really impressed with the toys on the site – the grand piano is so cool with the colourful spots! Sausage would love the pink pram, she’s become crazy about anything baby-related now that she has a sister on the way and I love all of the kits for craft and science, which allow kids to have fun while learning. Although, I say “kids”, what I really mean is me…I SO want a lava lamp kit!

Letters to Santa

Post Commissioned by Vertbaudet

Letters to Santa

The lovely people at Vertbaudet are helping little ones get well and truly into the Christmas spirit by offering a series of templates on their site which you can print off and give to them to help them let Santa know exactly what they want for Christmas this year. There are three to choose from, with gorgeous illustrations ranging from a snowman to a beautifully bedecked tree, or even a pile of presents which are just asking to be coloured in by your little Christmas artistes! Also, if you share your lists on any of Vertbaudet’s social media channels, you might just get a little treat…

I’m a huge fan of Christmas. I wasn’t so much when I was a kid, as I remember a lot of stress and angst in the lead up, with inevitable drama on the day, be it over burnt birds or soggy Brussels Sprouts, but now that I’m a Mum I really enjoy injecting the magic into the festive period for Sausage. She’s still young enough to buy into the magic of Christmas and will excitedly leave mince pies and brandy out for Santa, plus a carrot for the Reindeer (although how Ol’ Beardy manages to fly the sleigh straight after 3 million snifters of the strong stuff, I’ll never know!).

Sausage has been keeping a list of what she wants for Christmas for some time now, in a two-fold effort – a) for my sanity because when it gets to around September-time and the inevitable “Mum, I really want…” starts, I can say “Well, add it to your list for Santa!” and b) because when it gets to the time that relatives start asking what she wants, I can give them definite answers, rather than plucking ideas out at random!

This year, all of the grown-ups in our family are doing a Secret Santa, which means that we’ll all have one present to open on Christmas day (and our shopping this year should be a whole lot easier too!) and we can focus on the kids, who will no doubt have mountainous piles of their own to conquer.

Being pregnant means I won’t be the one polishing off Santa’s brandy on Christmas Eve, after Sausage goes to bed, but I’ll definitely be getting my chops around a mince pie or two…not too many though, I’ll still be on my low GI diet, even on the big day, so no Quality Street for me this year! I’m considering keeping a few Christmas treats back and indulging once the baby is born – two Christmases might be a little bit excessive though, don’t you think?!