When it comes to toys, I sometimes wonder who the people are that determine the age range appropriate for each one. Granted, anything with small pieces is recommended for older ages simply because of the possibility of younger children hurting themselves with it. But otherwise, how do they know that a 2-year-old won't enjoy an item that they deem for 4 and up?
So, having heard of ebeanstalk.com and the way that they specifically test everything from baby gifts to toddler toys to best-sellers for big kids by a team of child-experts, I was interested to see what they selected for my girls. After all, with a mission to "plant the seeds that help children grow" while making gift-giving easy and special, their recommendations would be a great way for me to compare my daughters' likes and dislikes with ebeanstalk's suggested stages of development.
First up, Big Sister E. With her fourth birthday next month, I was pleased to see that with one click I could sort items specifically into those for a 4-year-old girl. Right away a few of their learning toys jumped out at me.
The Mini Butterfly Bungalow is extremely unique and I have no doubt that Big Sister E would be enthralled watching each stage as the larvae turn from cocoon to caterpillar to butterfly. Without a doubt, this one would be a winner.
Next up, I came across the Paint by Numbers Horse, which comes complete with the paints and brush needed to create an equestrian masterpiece. This looks like a very cute idea but at the moment Big Sister E is far from being able to paint within the lines nicely enough that this would resemble the completed picture on the box. Possibly by the time she is almost five this would be more plausible, but for now I wouldn't go with this choice for her.
Finally, I couldn't help but admire the Stir Fry Slicing Set and thinking it was extremely cool. What other toy can teach good cooking and food habits and comes with bok choy? Not any that I know. I would give this one a thumb's up for Big Sister E, she would have a great time making her stir fry right alongside me when it's time for dinner.
Moving on, I went looking to see what items ebeanstalk recommended for Little Sister B.
The Red Rody Horse would be a 100% hit with my climbing, active 21-month-old. Little Sister B would climb right on in an instant and bounce and balance all over the house. It would be love at first sight, I just know it.
In theory the Waterfall Cave Lagoon Bath Toy looks like something right up Little Sister B's alley. She is very into taking baths recently (speck of dirt on her leg? "Baf!" Hands dirty after dinner? "Baf! Baf!") and this appears to have a variety of fun features to keep things interesting in the tub. However, without a close-up picture or even mention of how this works (does it hook to the faucet? Do you just leave it floating?), I would have a hard time buying this without having to look it up elsewhere first.
Another new-to-me toy: the Magic Gertie Ball. I love the way that this is a classic, well-loved toy with a twist. Little Sister B loves tossing balls around and I can already picture the curious amazement on her face when she picked this up and saw her handprint left on it. This is great for the unique simplicity it brings to an area where otherwise a ball is a ball.
In the end, I found that shopping at ebeanstalk was convenient and easy and they really did do an overall good job of matching up toys with genders and ages (they even break down into 1/4 of a year. For instance, labeling a toy for 3 1/4-year-olds and another for 3 3/4-year-olds). The Gift Series options are great as well, making it possible for a gift-giver to have a toy delivered every three months that is developmentally appropriate. What kid wouldn't like that?
I think it is great that ebeanstalk.com also includes an instruction card to go along with every toy that provides a description, why it was chosen and ideas for play and how to make sure your child gets the most out of the item. Combine that with an in-depth selection of developmental articles, a section of clearance toys (I can't pass up a deal!) and you've got a shopping destination for all of childhood. The only question is which toys to choose first!
(I was not compensated or enticed or to do this review in any way, however, I will be receiving a toy for a future review. This review is solely my honest opinion of this website and its products.)