Category Archives: Toy Reviews

Toy Review – Brain Quest Flash Cards – Ages 3 & 4

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Brain Quest

Last year we were becoming worried about the Princess’ speech development.   We could understand her but many people outside of family and friends would looks to us to translate toddler.  My in-laws said they thought her speech was fine but there was this nagging feeling inside me that she wasn’t where she should be.  I asked her daycare teachers and again they said she was fine but if I was concerned, maybe I should invest in some learning tools.  There is a Chapter’s on the concourse level in the building where I work and on my lunch I went to look for speech developing books.  I found Brain Quest cards children aged 3 & 4.  They come in a box, with 2 decks and questions on both sides of each card.

The questions range from differentiating sizes and shapes, finding similarities and differences, letters, numbers, objects, mazes and much more.  They have the questions printed on the card, but parents are encouraged to make up their own as well.  If they ask for example “Which baby is sleeping?” after the Princess answers, I ask her to count how many babies are in the picture.  The cards allow the children to pick their own pace, develop language skills and have fun at the same time.  The creators also provide helpful suggestions on how to get the most out of these cards.

  1. Introduce Molly the Mouse.  She is the main character of the cards and appears in many of the questions.
  2. Help your child enjoy the Game.   Feel free to reword the questions or make up your own.  Help by giving clues and constant praise.
  3. Let your child’s responses guide the game.  If for example your child chooses the ‘bird’ as the answer, when it’s really ‘stork’ then allow that to be the answer.
  4. Relate the game to your child’s everyday life.  Pretty self-explanatory.
  5. Broaden your child’s interests.  If there is something in the cards your child isn’t familiar with, introduce it to their life such as a story, tale or nursery rhyme.

These cards we very inexpensive and do not require any batteries, special attachments or game pieces.  They aren’t a choking hazard and they are small enough that they can be carried in your purse on long trips or to dinners when you need them to be quiet.  The Princess’ speech has improved greatly and we are no longer concerned.  She loves these cards and asks us to play each night.  We only some a night so she doesn’t get bored of them too quickly.  She likes them and so do we.  Only downside is that with frequent use, the cardboard covers begins to wear where it is fastened to the rest of the deck.  4 out of 5 stars!

And the prize for the worst toy goes to…Baby Alive!

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Remember when we were kids, the toys we loved the most, were generally the toys our parents hated the most?  Mine was definitely Lite Brite, and my mother, while she loved my colourful pictures, a near choking incident put my favourite toy into a box and was never seen again. Well now that I’m a mom, I’m starting to sympathize with my own.  On my daughter’s birthday, one of her daycare classmates bought her a toy that is in my opinion is the worst toy!  While it is not a choking hazard that makes this toy so awful, its the fact that it poops on my carpet.  Yes, you read correctly.  It POOPS on my carpet.

Baby Alive

Or it did, until I quickly disposed of its fake food that makes it poop.  Baby Alive comes with a bottle that you can fill with water, a bowl and spoon, two diapers, and two packs of food.  My daughter was very excited to feed this doll and change her bottom, that as soon as we got home, we had to open it.  I prepared the food and then we began to feed Baby Alive.  Now, perhaps I was foolish to assume that the diaper that was on Miss Baby Alive was constructed well enough to hold its coming contents, but I now know that to “assume” makes an ass out of you and me.  Or just me in this case.  The diapers didn’t hold anything.  Just leaked out the side onto the carpet.   So in a panic, I tore off the diaper and picked her up to put the replacement diaper on her, the rest of her contents fell out.  SPLAT! While I am sighing in absolute frustration, my daughter is laughing hysterically. To further add insult to injury, the box actually warns that “It may stain some surfaces.” It was in that moment that the remainder of the food was thrown in the garbage.  I remember having dolls as a child that peed when you sat them on the toilet and when you flushed the yellow water went away.  It was not that the doll actually peed, but that the button on the toy toilet would flush away “pretend pee”.  This doll actually has BM’s.  It’s crude.

This doll was actually nominated by the Commercial Free Childhood Organization as one of the Worst Toys.  It lost the winning title to Barbie, who won for being scantily clad.   It warns that this doll actually limits using imagination and hinders the nurturing behaviour in girls.  Baby Alive is also very expensive.  The replacement diapers, food and accessories can definitely add up as it only comes with 2 diaper and 2 packs of food.  Any child would want to use this doll more than twice.  So while I may have taken away the funpart of this doll, my daughter will have to do what many other girls from generations past had to do; pretend.  Pretend feed it with pretend food, pretend to clean up pretend poop.  Use the imagination that was given to her.

I will also let you all know that there is another reason why this doll is the worst.  It speaks.  Its eyes roll in its head, open and close, open and close.  I was once walking through my daughter’s bedroom late at night when she was sleeping.  The room was dark.  I tripped on one of her toys that she didn’t put away and my stumble created enough of a vibration to awaken the demon.  In the dark, the blonde haired, doe eyed doll said these chilly words;  “You are a good mommy.”  Now, I understand that there are dolls that speak, but hearing words from a doll in the dark whose button I didn’t push, sent chills down my spine.  Reminds me of another doll…..

Chucky

* For the full article on Baby Alive, please see here *