Veronika sure did love discovering the goodies in Panda Crate’s Discover with Me kit that arrived. This month’s theme was all about the ways in which kids learn (hint: repetition is key), and would be great for kids aged 20 months and up.
One: Animal Puzzles
This first toy was Veronika’s least favorite of the bunch. Four tiles match up on one side to make a park-scene puzzle. The reverse side shows 4 animal faces and the numerals 1 through 4. Even for a grown up, the puzzle was frustrating because there is no way to link the pieces together!
That said, she loved playing “I spy” with the image in the puzzle oncce complete. “Can you find the tire swing?” I asked her. “Can you find the cloud?”
She also thought the animal images were quite cute, and you can arrange them in numerical order to teach early counting.
Two : Peek-A-Boo Base
There’s another use for those animal puzzle tiles. Put them in the provided base, and when you press on the top of one, the one adjacent to it pops up to say hello. If you do this fast and hard enough, it actually pops all the way out of the base!
Veronika couldn’t muster up that much strength, but did enjoy pressing on them. Slotting them in and out of the base is great repetitive play, and older kids can work on adding them in numerical order.
Three: Hide-and-Seek Mat
This one was definitely the favorite from the crate, combining imaginative play with symbolic thinking skills. Three wooden animals can hop around the playground scene or be used for hide-and-seek behind the flaps (a gate, a bush, etc.).
Veronika loved narrating to herself as she played, repeatedly “finding” her puppy, cat, and bunny.
These three animals also match up to…
Four: Animal Match-Up
… a set of cards featuring 4 different pairs of parent and baby animals: a bird, cat, bunny, and dog. Veronika loved the cute babies and the tiles are great for vocabulary (kitten and puppy vs. cat and dog for example) and for making animal noises to match each set.
You can encourage your child to pair the parents with the babies, arrange them in big and little order, or even play a game of Memory!
Five: Pop-Up Roller
This item seemed out of place with the rest of the crate, but is meant to teach cause-and-effect. The roller has tabs on each side; when one tab pops out, the tab opposite it goes in.
It was good for talking about colors, and will make noises when rolled along a hard floor that likewise teach cause-and-effect. But Veronika didn’t like it as much all those cute animal toys!
Six: Board Book
I remain disappointed in the book included with the crate, this time called “Where’s Poppy?” What’s more, the company already sent a book with a hide-and-seek theme in the Play with Me crate! We really would have preferred a book with a new topic or with flaps to lift and encourage interaction.
Wonder magazine this month featured tips about repetitive play, ways to encourage your child to try new things, and a cute sing-along to Three Little Pandas (jumping on the bed) as opposed to those familiar monkeys. We get why they chose this song: cause-and-effect again!
We also played a toddler favorite, Lights On, Lights Off with our light switches. Simply head to any switch in the house and let your toddler press and marvel at the result (either a dark room or an illuminated one).
Veronika loves doing this in the kitchen, in particular!
We checked out three books from the library to finish the fun:
The Rain Came Down by David Shannon
Peek-a-Moo by Nina Laden
Before, After by Anne-Margaret Ramstein