Review on Step2 Neat & Tidy Cottage

Playhouses have long been a popular choice for entertaining children. Many of today’s parents will fondly remember playing in their own playhouses as kids, and plenty of parents want to give their children the chance to have the same experience. The Step2 Neat & Tidy Cottage is a fairly new playhouse which is entirely plastic-based. This means it requires very little maintenance, even when kept outdoors. If you’re looking for a new playhouse then you might want to consider this one. Read on to find out more.

Features Of The Neat & Tidy Cottage 
  • Easy to watch children while at play thanks to open sides, 
  • Requires some assembly, Includes a kitchen table, faucet, and burner, 
  • Has working doors and shutters, 
  • Stone and wood effect on walls and doors, 
  • No accessories included. 

Is The Neat & Tidy Cottage Worth Buying? 

Unlike many playhouses which are built from wood, the Neat & Tidy Cottage is made entirely from plastic. Although this might make it seem less authentically house-like, the advantages seem to outweigh the drawbacks. For one thing, the plastic does not suffer from bad weather. Wood rots and requires treatment, but the Neat & Tidy Cottage will remain as good as new for years even if left outdoors.

Being plastic also makes the Neat & Tidy Cottage really easy to clean. All that’s needed is a quick hose-down and any mud and dirt that’s accumulated from outside use is washed away. This is a great time-saver! It even has drainage holes in the floor to prevent water from accumulating.

Despite being plastic, the Neat & Tidy Cottage is also well-made. It’s not likely to fall apart from even the toughest play. This is particularly useful with toddlers who can be clumsy and are also more prone to tantrums than older children.

Another good thing about this playhouse is that it’s quite small. This means that it can be used indoors as well as outdoors. However, it’s not so small that it prevents multiple children from enjoying it together. It’s easy to get two or even three young toddlers inside at once. The Neat & Tidy Cottage also has open sides, which allows adults to keep an eye on what the kids are up to even when they’re inside the playhouse.

Besides this, there are several other nice features including the working doorbell, portable phone, plastic stools and mail slot. It’s also colorful which makes it a bit more pleasant for kids, and its easy to assemble which is nice for the adults!

There are only a few small issues with this product. Firstly, it doesn’t include any accessories which makes play a bit limited. Kids will probably want household items that they can use when playing “houses” in this playhouse. You’ll need to buy these separately.

Secondly, despite being easy to assemble on the whole, it does require the use of a screwdriver. In fact, it’s better to assemble this using an electric screwdriver rather than a manual one as some of the holes can be a bit tough.

Radio Flyer 2700Z Pathfinder Wagon Review

At a certain age kids can start to get frustrated with their pushchairs, and this makes things tougher on parents too. One great solution to this problem are wagons, which have been popular for decades. They give kids a bit more freedom than pushchairs but keep them safe and easy to cart around wherever you go. If you’re thinking about buying a wagon, then read on for more information.

Features Of The Pathfinder Wagon 
  • Sturdy body, 
  • Easy no-tip steering,
  • 4 moulded cup-holders, 
  • Optional storage compartment. 

Is The Pathfinder Wagon Worth Buying? 

One of the most important aspects of any wagon is durability. If you’re going to be hauling your kids around in it day after day it’ll need to last. Fortunately the Pathfinder Wagon is a very durable product, which will serve your needs for a long time to come.

This product has been rigorously tested, and has won several awards for its safe design. One of the best features is its steering system which prevents tip-overs. Nothing is more important to a parent than the safety of their child, and the possibility of a wagon tipping over and hurting your child is something any parent wants to avoid. Another great safety feature of this wagon is its seatbelts. These stop kids standing up while being pulled along in the wagon.

The rubber tyres of the Pathfinder Wagon make it quiet when being pulled along the sidewalk, and also make for a much smoother ride than harder wheels. This will keep your child happier, and make your outings with the wagon a little more relaxed.

Some additional features of this wagon are cup holders, which give your child somewhere to stow their juice, and holes in the bottom that allow any liquids that fall into the wagon to drain out quickly. The seats are also flip-up, which means they can be folded to make extra storage space when you don’t need to pull two kids around at once.

There is nothing negative to say about the Pathfinder Wagon, except that your kids will obviously outgrow it. However, even after that the wagon is still useful from bringing your shopping in from the car after a trip to the supermarket!

On the whole, then, this item is thoroughly recommendable. If you need a wagon to take your kids around you’d be hard pushed to beat this for the price.

3 Top iPad Accessories Designed For Children

Don't think that the iPad is simple a toy for adults: it can also be an entertainment device for your kids! Here are three great iPad games that your kids can play to keep occupied during times of boredom, and perhaps to learn something, too!

Atari Arcade 
The Atari Arcade, produced by Discovery Bay Games, is an accessory that resembles the old Atari arcade gamepad. When attached to your iPad, it acts as a base to hold your iPad vertically. With this gadget, you can play around 100 different Atari games old school style with a joystick and buttons. All you need to do is download the Atari Greatest Hits app from the Apple store, attach the Atari Arcade and start playing. This accessory might be more suitable for older children but they’ll still have a great time playing some classic Atari games.

Crayola iMarker
The Crayola iMarker is a marker shaped stylus which allows your children to draw and color on your iPad. It basically functions as a virtual art set. Before you use the iMarker, you need to have the ColorStudio HD app installed to animate your kids' pictures just like a cartoon. You can save the pictures, share them through email, upload them on Facebook or even print them. Children aged 3 and above are sure to have a great time coloring with the Crayola iMarker.

Disney Cars 2 iPad AppMates
Playing with the Cars 2 AppMates toy is a new and fun way for your kids to entertain themselves on the iPad. This toy package includes two favorite characters from the Cars and Cars 2 animated movies (for example Lightning McQueen, Shu Todoroki and so on). You can download the free Cars 2 AppMates app from the Apple store and use the toys to explore and race in the world of Radiator Springs. All you need to do is place the Cars movie character on the iPad screen and start playing. Your child will have lots of fun completing missions and interacting with other characters in the game.

With these 3 unique accessories, you can turn the iPad into a true games console for your kids. The interactive nature of the accessories also makes them a little different to standard computer games, and they're perfect for taking with you on the go.

Fisher-Price iXL 6-in-1 Learning System

The Fisher-Price iXL is a toy aimed at kids from 3 – 7 that imitates a tablet such as an iPad. Toys of this kind are becoming increasingly popular, and offer lots of playability. Fisher-Price has a few serious competitors in this category, but on face value it seems they hit all the right points. Let’s find out how the product itself stacks up.

Features Of The Fisher-Price iXL
  • A handheld learning tool for kids,
  • Includes 6 play options: Digital Reader, Art Studio, Note Pad, Game Player, Photo Viewer and MP3 Player,
  • 3.5” color screen protected by closing cover,
  • Comes with assorted pre-loaded software,
  • Additional software, such as games, books and other new features, can be downloaded.

Is The Fisher-Price iXL Worth Buying?

One of the great benefits of toys like the iXL is that they encourage learning through play. This is one of the best ways for kids to learn, as they remain enthusiastic even while they are being tested and pushed to their limits. The iXL offers a range of interactive features to keep kids happy while they learn. These include an e-reader function, an art studio, a note pad, a game player, a photo viewer and mp3 playing facilities.

The reader tells the story out loud and highlights words as it goes along, the art studio lets kids draw pictures using the stylus, they can learn how to write with the note pad, play games that teach them how to count, view photos and even draw on them, and listen to mp3s (it’s even possible to listen to the mp3s while using the art studio at the same time). All of the features are brightly colored and engaging, and really hold kids' attention.

With the photo viewer, it’s possible to put your own photos onto the device. This means that you can put photos of mommy and daddy onto the iXL and let your child look at them, and also draw on them! The mp3 playing feature also enables you to select your own music for the device, so you can put your child’s favorite lullabies on there, or anything else you like. These features help to make the iXL more personal, and offer lots of fun!

An appealing feature of the iXL is its size. Being small, it is an ideal toy to bring on long journeys. And, because of its multiple play options, it keeps kids engaged for long periods of time. While you may not want your child playing it all the time whilst at home, in the car it can be a great help – keeping your child from getting bored and you from getting frustrated with too many calls of “are we there yet?”!

Of course, technology toys need to be durable if they’re going to last long with youngsters. Fortunately, Fisher-Price haven’t fallen short on this account and they’ve put together a really robust toy that can withstand a good few tantrums. The hinges stand up to a lot of strain and the hard plastic case means that if the iXL is thrown it shouldn’t get damaged. The electronics inside are also made to withstand rough and tumble, so you don’t need to worry about your children breaking this toy.

Despite it’s good points, there are a few shortcomings of the iXL. Firstly, whilse it’s possible to download new games and books, the on-board memory is quite small. This means that you’ll only get a maximum of four additional games onto the iXL before you run out of space. However, this isn’t a big issue as it’s possible to expand the memory of the iXL with conventional SD memory cards.

However, it’s worth noting that if you do intend to buy many additional games and books, they cost quite a bit. It’s a shame that Fisher-Price charge so much for these little extras as they stop the product from being as good as it could be. Still, it’s worth putting extra memory into the iXL anyway, just so that it can store more photos and mp3s.

Another small issue is the transfer speed when putting downloaded games onto the device. A game of just 40MB takes half an hour to transfer onto the iXL using the included USB cable. This is extremely slow given the size of the file. If you want to put anything extra onto the iXL, whether new games and books, or just your own photos and mp3s, you’ll also need a PC or Mac to do so. Although most households have one now, it’s still worth mentioning.

These issues are really only minor though, and don’t spoil an otherwise great product. It’s almost certain that your child will love to play with this toy, and it’s certainly a recommendable product. Don’t hesitate if you’re considering this as a gift for your child.

Lego Pirates of the Caribbean Black Pearl

If there's one prop that really stands out in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies it's the Black Pearl: Captain Jack Sparrow's prized ship. Thanks to her many black sails, the Black Pearl is said to be “nigh uncatchable” and is faster than any other ship it comes into contact with. This Lego set recreates the Black Pearl in fantastic detail using 804 pieces. The end result is a huge ship that sets the scene for kids to play out their favorite action from the movies.

Features Of The Lego Pirates Of The Caribbean Black Pearl Set
  • 804 pieces in total,
  • Large finished model,
  • Real fabric sails,
  • 6 minigures to match the characters from the movies: Will Turner, Jack Sparrow, Joshamee Gibbs, Maccus, Davy Jones and Bootstrap Bill,
  • Features a detachable floorboard, captain's cabin and moveable anchor.

Does The Lego Pirates Of The Caribbean Black Pearl Set Live Up To The Hype?

The Lego Pirates Of The Caribbean Black Pearl set comes with around 800 pieces, which is enough to produce a good level of detail. This does take some time to achieve, though, so set aside a good few hours to put it together with your child. Fortunately the instructions are excellent, and even include various stages if you don't want to build the whole thing all in one go.

Once it's all been put together you'll notice the excellent detailing on this Lego toy. For a start, it's very big, and even has the space for real fabric sails. It really does look authentic when compared to the movie, and comes with small features such as a moveable anchor and detachable floorboard that help to encourage fun and imaginative play.

The included minifigures provide a good mix of characters, and will let your child recreate their favorite scenes from the movies. Captain Jack Sparrow can steer the ship while other characters can navigate, or even start a battle with the included swords and pistol!

Up to 50% off on select Lego products

For real Pirates of the Caribbean fans, the Lego Pirates of the Caribbean Black Pearl set can be combined with other sets to create massive battles and more scenes from the movies. You can't go wrong with this Lego range!

Chuggington Interactive Railway

If you have a child who loves the Chuggington animated TV series, then it's well worth looking into the range of gift options available to buy this holiday season. Kids just love the cute “trainee” trains, who are always teaching them new lessons in the form of fun stories.

Toy retailers are agreed that the Chuggington Interactive Railway Set is destined to sell in huge numbers this holiday season.

Features Of The Chuggington Interactive Railway All Around Chuggington Set  
  • Different engines interact with eachother through “SmartTalk” technology,
  • Interactions prompt sounds, lights and phrases based on the TV show,
  • Over 250 sounds and phrases,
  • 4 foot wide layout,
  • Over 13 feet of track,
  • Pieces easily snap together,
  • 3 interactive train stops: tower platform, loading yard and roundhouse,
  • Interactive Vee figure,
  • Interactive Wilson engine,
  • Hopper car,
  • 6 pieces of cargo,
  • 60+ pieces total,
  • Requires 11 AA batteries (included)

Is The Chuggington Interactive Railway All Around Chuggington Set Worth Buying For Your Child?

At over 4 feet wide, it's important to note that this is a relatively big train set (made even bigger if you choose to combine it with other elements from the Chuggington range). This makes it fun for kids who can really get involved in the railway operations, but it does mean you'll need a large play area for it.

As for the kind of kids this toy will suit, it's designed for ages three and above, and will especially appeal to those who watch the TV show and love the characters. It's easy to use, as the trains are propelled by hands and the set automatically recognizes certain trains passing through. However, you may need to spend some time helping young kids to put the track pieces together correctly.

The Chuggington railway set brings the famous toys to life. At certain points in the track, the set will recognize the engine passing through, activating a number of unique features. Kids can also play with other engines who recognize each other and make sounds or say phrases. Although only one engine comes in this kit, it will work with all other Chuggington engines.

All Aboard Chuggington! All-new die-cast and wooden railway engines available!

The Interactive All Around Chuggington Set is just one element of a much bigger world. If your child really enjoys playing with this set, then there's plenty of opportunity for some more excellent gifts in future. The fact that they all work together makes this a unique range to start collecting.

The main downside to this product is the fact that it uses 11 AA batteries. Thankfully they are already included, and shouldn't run down too quickly since they're only used when the trains pass through at certain points (the set doesn't constantly require power to function). Some parents have also commented on the fact that the connected track does come apart a little easily when compared to wooden train tracks.

At $65, the Chuggington Interactive Railway All Around Chuggington Set isn't exactly cheap, but for kids who love the TV show, this is the perfect gift to keep them happy.

Tips for Choosing the Right Toy for Your Child's Age

Anyone who has ever experienced it will empathize with the feeling of frustration encountered when, having spent hours choosing choosing the safest, most colorful, most fun, most educational toy for their child, your child unaware of the stimulating possibilities being presented to him, clings steadfastly to his favorite saucepan lid.  The lesson to be learned from this is that it is almost impossible to choose a "best toy" for your child.  The best toys are ones that fascinate a child, and to which he or she will return again and again.  Often a household item, such as a washing up bowl that can be used for a boat, car, or pool, will provide hours of imaginative play.

First time parents know how hard it is to pick out an age appropriate toy for a child.  Even those who have several children often find it difficult.  There is much more to choosing the right toy for your child's age than meets the eye.  Here are a few tips to help you decide which toy best suits your little one.
  • The age on the box is not always a good indicator of how appropriate a toy is for your child.  That doesn't mean that you should ignore it completely, because it usually represents the ages that the toy has been deemed safe for.  But a toy that is safe for a certain age group is not necessarily appropriate for it's educational level.
  • A toy that is good for one child may not be the best choice for another child of the same age.  Children learn at different rates, and while many toys are made for the average child of a certain age range, your child could be ahead or behind.  Rather than relying solely on numbers, take cues from what your child is comfortable with.
  • Babies need toys that are safe and stimulating.  Bright, contrasting colors, unusual textures and interesting sounds are good things to look for.  Toys that make noise or light up in response to the baby's actions provide an opportunity to learn about cause and effect.
  • Toddler toys should allow the child to develop his motor skills or learn about shapes, colors, animals and other basic things.  Those that incorporate both motor skills and intellectual development are even better.  Social skills are also beginning to develop at this stage, and items that your toddler can share with other children are a good way to encourage this.  But it's important to remember that young toddlers often prefer to play alongside other children rather than with them.
  • Preschoolers are ready to learn about letters and numbers.  There are all kinds of toys that can help with this, from alphabet blocks to talking books.  Finding something that your child enjoys playing with that teaches these things will be a great asset to him.
  • Some toys are good for a wide range of ages.  Building blocks and simple wooden puzzles with large pieces, for example, can grow with a child.  He could learn different things from them as a baby, toddler and preschooler.  Some electronic toys are designed to teach children different things at different ages as well.
Finding the right toy for your child's age is not as difficult as it sounds.  The trick is to be less concerned about numbers and more concerned about your child's developmental level.  As long as a toy is safe for your child, if he is having fun and learning from it, that is always a good thing.
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