As warm weather gets nearer and nearer around here, my kids start dreaming about the summer fun that they're going to have: swimming pools, sprinklers, climbing at the playground, picnics, and pulling out all of the great outdoor toys that have been buried in the garage all winter long.
Among those, some of the very favorites are consistently the sand toys. Sometimes I think that my girls could sit for hours in a sandbox or at our sand table just scooping and sifting and wouldn't grow tired of it.
However, we have had plenty of toys that have been fine, but then there are always those that stand out above the rest in terms of the quality, entertainment, and uniqueness. After all, a plain bucket and shovel do the job, but they don't provide nearly the same open-ended creativity, imagination and inventiveness as others.
And, without a doubt, the name in toys and educational products that comes to mind for both indoors and out is the one and only Melissa & Doug.
One of the leading designers and manufacturers of educational toys and children's products, Melissa & Doug has been offering customers products of tremendous value, quality and design since they first started back in 1988. With nearly 1,000 unique toys that, in my opinion, really are superior to the rest, there is something for kids of all ages to love and enjoy.
So when the Melissa & Doug Speck Seahorse Sand Ice Cream Set and Clicker Crab Hourglass Sifter & Funnel arrived, there was no doubt in my mind that they were going to be an instant favorite summer after summer.
Taking traditional sand play and turning it up a notch, Melissa & Doug created both of these toys to last and inspire for quite some time to come. Right out of the box, the bright colors and cute designs were already miles ahead of the cheap buckets that the kids previously had.
Opening up the Speck Seahorse Sand Ice Cream Set, we found that this is much more than just a bucket with a lid. Stored right inside are two ice cream cones, two seahorse-shaped ice cream scoops, and a very cute shell-topped "sprinkle" shaker. The lid even doubles as a shell sand mold!
With two scoops and two cones, this set has been perfect for Big Sister E and Little Sister B to make ice cream over and over... and they LOVE it! They place the sprinkle shaker in the middle and take turns getting their ice cream cone ready over and over before dumping it into the ice cream bucket to start again.
Every once in a while Big Sister E breaks from the routine to stop and take a lick, though. Who can resist a nice creamy scoop of sand ice cream?
In between having fun at their pretend ice cream stand, the girls also really enjoy the Clicker Crab Hourglass Sifter & Funnel to watch sand or water flow from the top to the bottom... and then flip it over to see it go back again!
The cute Clicker Crab lids snap on and off easily enough that Big Sister E can do it herself, yet they hold tight enough that they don't fall off during play. The entire hourglass itself is durable and high quality and being able to see through the sides catches the girls' attention over and over again.
It's great that this sifter can be filled with either sand or water to give the kids an option of what they want to see funnel back and forth... although Little Sister B doesn't seem to have a preference as long as she can have a good view of it running down through the middle.
As with every one of our Melissa & Doug experiences in the past these sand toys are all about imaginative play for any child (and their siblings, friends and parents, too). Designed for kids to just let their creativity take over, these high quality pieces are bright, colorful, fun to use, and worth every penny of their cost (the Ice Cream Set retails for $14.99 and the Sifter & Funnel for $7.99).
Not only have they provided hours of fun at home and brought along to the park already, I have no doubt that we will be able to continue playing with them for years to come. The kids have really enjoyed them and I love that while they're happily playing they are also secretly working on skills like hand-eye coordination and practicing cooperation, creativity, and pretend play. All while scooping and sifting sand!
We have yet to find a Melissa & Doug toy that hasn't been an instant hit in our lives and, whether inside or outside this summer, they have children of all ages covered. And, thanks to their generosity, one person will be able to provide some beach or sandbox entertainment as well, because...
One lucky person will win their choice of $25 worth of
Melissa & Doug sand toys!
Melissa & Doug sand toys!
To enter to win: Visit Melissa & Doug and tell me what great items (other than those listed above) your child would love to own.
Extra Entries (available after the mandatory entry above is completed; please leave a separate comment for each entry in order for them to be counted).
1 Extra Entry if you head over to A Mom's Balancing Act and enter to win $25 worth of Outdoor Fun and Games from Melissa & Doug!
1 Extra Entry (per method) if you follow Melissa & Doug on Twitter and/or Like them on Facebook.
1 Extra Entry (per giveaway entered) - Enter any (or all) of the Fun in the Sun giveaways (Fun in the Sun giveaways ONLY) running on Thanks, Mail Carrier for the duration of this giveaway.
1 Extra Entry if you follow me on Twitter and tweet about this giveaway by copying and pasting the tweet below and leaving me the link. Tweet daily for an extra entry every day!
Fun in the Sun 20: #WIN your choice of @MelissaAndDoug sand toys (ARV $25) for outdoor fun! #thxmailcarrier http://bit.ly/l4MtcJ #giveaway
2 Extra Entries (per follow method) if you follow me publicly with Google Friend Connect, subscribe to my RSS feed, subscribe to Thanks, Mail Carrier by email or become a fan on Facebook.
3 Extra Entries if you put my cute button up on your blog. Please leave an address where it can be found.
3 Extra Entries if you have our Fun in the Sun button up on your blog. Please leave an address where it can be found.
3 Extra Entries if you blog about this giveaway linking back to this post. Please leave an address where it can be found.
Giveaway will end on July 15th at 11:59pm CST. Do me the favor of leaving an email address or making absolutely sure it is visible in your profile, I have to have a way to contact the winner. The winner will be chosen by random.org and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to contact me or respond to notification or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is open to residents of the U.S. and Canada only.
A big thank you to Melissa & Doug for providing sand toys for me to review as well as $25 worth of sand toys for one lucky giveaway winner. The opinions shared are my own and honest and if you really need to see more, click here to see how I roll.