Play with Me Panda Crate

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Veronika’s latest crate from Panda was all about encouraging solo play, something she’s already a champ at (much more so than big brother!) but it never hurts to foster it. I would recommend this crate for babies 10 months and older.

One: Wood Beads

First up was a peg board with pastel-colored pegs and corresponding wood beads. To start, we played with the set together; I encouraged her to match colors, showed her how to stack two beads atop one another, and counted them as she stacked for some early math.

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You can also make a tower of the beads off to the side, and see how high your toddler can make it go!

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She could then continue with all of these activities solo, and boy did she ever! She also loved the cloth bag that came for storage, and would pile the beads in, dump them out, and then start over.

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Two: Wood Bars

These discs also go with the provided peg board, but now there was a bit more of a challenge; could she align two holes so they slid over two pegs?

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The three-holed one was definitely a puzzle!

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As with the wood beads, she could easily continue the play solo, mixing and matching combinations of bars and beads.

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Three: Ribbon Pull

This toy is ingenious, a soft cube with ribbons that pull back and forth. First we played together in a sort of toddler tug-of-war. She pulled one end; I pulled it back. She pulled another tab; I pulled it back.

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And then I handed it over. The cube is great for a child’s development to coordinate holding it steady with one hand and pulling the ribbon with the other.

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Of course she wasn’t thinking about that; she just loved pulling those ribbons! There’s also great opportunity for pointing out colors with this toy, or talking about left and right hands.

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Four: Ball Drop

This was another ingenious inclusion. As the first challenge, your toddler needs to drop the ball through the hole in the top of a wood block. As a second challenge, there’s a pattern to pick up on, since the ball alternates rolling to the right and the left.

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As she tried it, she immediately trotted over to fetch the ball from where it rolled and inserted it again.

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Roll, trot, insert. Roll trot, insert. Solo play! We never even had a chance to use this toy together, since she was immediately so busy with it by herself!

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She also loved putting the ball in and playing peek-a-boo with it, and had fun stuffing some of the wood beads and wood bars inside, too.

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Five: Board Book

This was the one weak point of the crate. In a kit devoted to occupying a toddler solo, I was disappointed to find a simple board book with no flair. Why oh why wasn’t it a lift-the-flap book? That would have encouraged greater solo reading.

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The Wonder booklet contained a wealth of information, including the benefits of solo play, ways to encourage solo play, and facts about toddlers and screentime.

We had fun watching a sing-along to This is the Way We Laugh and Play, then finished up the fun with a few suggested book:

  • Gus Explore His World by Olivier Dunrea
  • Dog & Friends: Busy Day by Emma Dodd
  • Mon Petit Busy Day by Annette Tamarkin

This last in particular is spectacular. I’ve never seen a book occupy a toddler for so long, and over multiple days.

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