Building, creating and more – toys for my 3 year old boy

Cars_boy

As a mom of two, I always struggle with what the “right” toy is for my three year old son.  Should I get him something that is educational or should I defer to his favorite of cars and trucks and things that go?  We have some older toys from his brother who is now 8 and are among his favorites.  Below are some of our favorite toys for 3 year old boys which I’ve categorized by type.  I also try to get science based toys which fit into the STEM theme as well.

When shopping for a new toy I try to use the following criteria

  • usability – is it a toy that my son will play with once and be done?
  • durability – is the toy durable enough to last through multiple play sessions and not be broken?
  • learning – will my child learn something from the toy – either by reading or creative thinking skills like a puzzle
  • “fun factor creative toys” – will my kids have fun using it even if it creates a mess?
  • imaginary play – does the toy encourage imaginary or role play?

Let's Play House! Dust! Sweep! Mop!My kids love sturdy wooden toys, and I have found Melissa & Doug toys to be a huge hit over the years.  The content of the toys is timeless and typically there is an educational twist to what they are doing.    Plus, sometimes they even help out mom and dad with chores!  I call that a win all around!  My nephew got this cleaning set over the holidays, and it was fun to see my three year old play with it.  Guess what is on his birthday list?!?  I keep hoping he will help me tidy up or at least sweep up the constant messes that he seems to make.

 

 

Big Building Bag (classic) (80 pieces)I also like to look at learning types of toys, especially since I know preschool will be just around the corner.  We regularly work on letter recognition and colors.  In this category I like simple 5-6 piece puzzles, building blocks like Mega Blocks which are easy to stack and sort by color or counting, and even things like arranging them by size.

 

 

 

 

Toys that target imaginary play are important to consider as well.  My son also loves to dress up – so a few costumes might be a good fit here while we learn about different types of “jobs” in the community.  He currently has a dress up costume for a firefighter and construction worker and we have seen lots of great pretend play from these.  He also loves cooking in the kitchen, I like to present all types of foods for his play kitchen beyond the traditional meat and potatoes to include vegetables.  This tote from Learning Resources has a variety of fresh fruits and vegtables which then we use to talk about why we need to eat our veggies at dinner – which are unfortunatley not a favorite!  I love watching my son cook – and he’s now even more intersted in helping me prepare healthy snacks like carrots and apple slices.

 

 

 

VTech   Call & Chat Learning PhoneAs a tech mom, I also like to look at “tech toys”.  We introduced a tablet to my younger son at the age of 2.5 – earlier than I would have liked, but we limit #screentime and try to ensure we balance out learning in other ways.  We also have had fun getting toys like a pretend remote control which helps him work on numbers and colors.  He has an “old school” flip phone that he pretends to call me on from daycare on occasion which is fun as well.  When using the iPad I try to limit him to educational type stories or learning type apps.  We also love listening to music on the iPad and getting up to dance.  Be sure to check out our app reviews here at The iMums for some great apps to add to your device.  We also have some great tech toy reviews as well including a Bluebee Pal named Hudson that my son adores who reads stories to him from books on our iPad.

 

My son loves all things that move and go.  Little People are among his favorites.  He likes to intermix the Little People along with farm animals so it can make for some pretty creative combinations when he is playing.  By far his favorite though is his racetrack.  We practice patience – using the “on your mark, get set, go” as well as turn taking skills when he plays with other kids.  Most of the time, if my son is given the choice of toys to play with he will almost always choose something that can go.  He enjoys a variety of cars, trucks, and construction vehicles.  This year, I know I am looking at some Tonka Trucks he will be able to play with outside as well as a few of the lights & sounds trucks which are among his friends favorites.

 

 

 

6 Count Washable FingerpaintLast but not least are the “fun factor toys”.  Many of these toys fit into the “messy” category and include things like paints, bath toys and more.  We use crayons, markers, finger paints, chalk to make fun art related creations.  The most important piece here for me is a smock, and then we can move on to good “clean” fun!   Kids learn and practice so many skills when doing artwork like grasp as well as figuring out spacing on a page.  These may not be my favorites given the mess factor but I do love all of the artwork they create.

 

 

 

No matter what you choose, your three year old will love it.  My son loves sitting with me and playing toys no matter what the day.  Seeing him have enjoyment during play on his face – is simply priceless!

 

NOTE: This post is a partnership with Nakturnal.  The links in this post may contain affiliate links where The iMums will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on our link, this helps to support the costs of running this site and we appreciate your support.

 

Alison, the American iMum is from Massachusetts. She lives there with her two sons and husband. In their spare time, they enjoy playing outside, enjoying nature and of course testing apps and fantastic products on their devices. My older son loves technology and loves testing out the “latest and newest” apps and tech. I love sharing information about apps and products with others to help them make decisions without feeling overwhelmed with all of the choices.


Sago Mini Boats by Sago Sago – Review




iPhone Screenshot 1

What we love…

cute and easy game for little ones

What we’d love to see…

more activities and interactions

Summary

cute app for little ones to venture across the high seas. would love to see a bit more to keep it interesting

Our Rating

Sago Mini BoatsThe new Sago Mini Boats app by Sago Sago is a cute and fun game with a nautical theme, which is perfect for children 2 to 5 years old. Sago Mini apps never disappoint, this one is no different!

Little ones get to choose from five boat adventures, pack their suitcase, choose their boat from eleven choices, and set off on their little adventure! On the high seas, they can pickup some treats, meet some interesting characters, go underwater and cruise along until they meet their best friend.

iPhone Screenshot 2

My three year old loved this app, she was very excited when she first saw it as she loves Sago Mini apps. It is very easy for little hands to use and get around. Options are easy to select and because adventures keep changing every time you go and select one, it’s never a bore.

Her favourite adventures are when she chooses a banana boat or shark boat for Harvey the Dog and sets off to meet his cat friend Jinja, eats lots of ice creams and cupcakes on the way, plays with a pirate fish, gives presents to friends, visits her ice cream vendor friend the octopus, plays with a giant beach ball and dips under water to pick diamonds.

iPhone Screenshot 3

We would love more activities and interactions along the high seas as some areas are very basic. Another option would be if Harvey the dog played with his best friend after he reaches land.

The app has no in-app purchases or third-party advertising which is great. It does have a parents section which is locked by a swipe. There is however a More Apps section which is also guarded by a swipe.

Overall, we loved this cute easy to use app and would recommend it. It is fun and simple to use and as always with Sago Mini apps the characters and graphics are very well designed and don’t disappoint. A few additions would make this app even better.

iTunes Link: Sago Mini Boats – Sago Sago

Sago Mini Boats Sago Mini Boats by Sago Mini

Price: $2.99 USD

Pack your bags and set sail with Harvey the dog. Pick a destination, select a boat and sail the high seas. Choose a tugboat, a super-fast speed boat or even a pirate ship! “Yarr!” Sail around the .

Catherine is a mother of a little miss almost 3 years old. Originally from France she now lives in Melbourne, Australia. She loves to explore their beautiful city with her daughter and sharing their adventures with other parents. Catherine has a passion for social media, blogging, technology and food. Before the arrival of her daughter, Catherine was studying and working in the field of IT and still loves all things tech! She loves finding new apps for her daughter to learn and play with and share great apps with other parents.


Forestry – Funny Animals by Ingame- Review



iPhone Screenshot 1

What we love…

colorful and engaging illustrations with cute, cartoon character animals and realistic sound effects

What we’d love to see…

more consistent hints, more steps in some games

Summary

Forestry – Funny Animals is a gentle interactive app for young children with charming illustrations. The mini-games work on dragging and dropping, hand eye co-ordination, visual perception and color matching. If you have a child under 5 it is worth downloading the free version to see if it appeals to your child, and if they enjoy it $1.99 seems a fair price for a full unlock.

Our Rating

Forestry - Funny AnimalsForestry – Funny Animals from Ingame is an interactive app for iPhone and iPad designed for children under 5. It is set in a forest scene and features a cast of whimsical animals. It is free to download with an in-app purchase to unlock the full game. The app has 7 animals with interactive games: a bear, a squirrel, a beaver, a moose, a hedgehog, a wild boar, and а hare. The bear’s 4 games are unlocked in the free version, the other animals are unlocked by an in-app purchase (currently $1.99 to unlock all animals.) In the unlocked app there are 17 mini-games in total. This review is of the fully unlocked app.

There are 8 language options: English, German, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Russian, Chinese, and Japanese; but these are only for navigating the app, no written or oral language skills are needed to play any of the games. There are no adverts but there are social media links and a single in-app purchase, these are behind a parental gate with a simple addition problem. The app has lively background music and sound effects, the music can be switched off in settings.

In manual play mode the child can explore a forest scene with the 7 animals in it, tapping on any animal brings up icons for that animal’s games, if the child has previously completed a game it has a green check mark. Once the child selects a game, if they do nothing, a visual hint will appear on the screen showing the action they should complete.

In one of the mini-games they help the beaver build a dam – first he cuts down the tree with his axe then chops the branches off one by one and places them on the dam. He must put the branch onto the dam before he can cut the next branch. Once he finishes building the dam it fills with water. In the next mini-game the beaver is ready for a bath and he has rigged up a contraption to use the dammed water,  and the child needs to help him fill the tub.

The other games :

Rabbit has 2 games: help rabbit in his garden by planting, watering and harvesting carrots; and help rabbit dress in his winter clothes.

iPhone Screenshot 2

Moose has 2 games: feed moose tasty food from the forest and see what he will or won’t eat; and help Moose walk to his campfire.

Wild Boar has 2 games: help the boar dig up roots  with his fork and eat them; help boar feed his child by knocking acorns from the tree.

Hedgehog has 2 games: feed hedgehog by putting the right colored grubs into his bin; help get hedgehog ready for bed. Feeding the hedgehog games works on color matching.

iPhone Screenshot 4

Squirrel has 3 games: help squirrel find the hidden mushrooms and hang them on tree branches; help squirrel find the hidden hazelnuts and fill his basket; and switch off squirrel’s light so he can go to sleep.

Bear has 4 games: help bear find the hidden berries and fill his basket; help the bear collect honey; help the bear catch fish in his net and put them in his bucket; switch of bear’s light so he can go to sleep. The fishing game is good for working on hand-eye co-ordination.

After completing all an animal’s mini-games the child is brought back to the forest clearing to pick another animal. The mini- games also have hidden interactions too e.g. insects and flowers that react when touched and hidden animals. Hints are always available at the start of a mini-game but I found them more variable if the child got stuck within a game. For instance when looking for berries for bear, when his basket has berries in but the game has not completed no hints show up as to what to do next, leaving the child unsure whether they have just missed a hidden berry or if there is some other action they need to complete the game. It would be nice if consistently after a set period of inactivity a hint appears to show what action is needed. Some of the mini-games have multiple steps to complete such as in the dam building game where you cut down a tree, cut multiple branches and add them to the dam, others just involve 1 action e.g. switching off the light in the 2 bedtime games or having the moose walk to his campsite. It would be nice to see more steps added to these games e.g. at bear’s bedtime putting on PJs on, brushing teeth, washing face, bedtime story then lights out.

Forestry – Funny Animals is a Forestry – Funny Animals is a gentle interactive app for young children. The illustrations are charming with cute cartoon character animals, and hidden interactions, realistic sound effects help to set the scene. The mini-games work on dragging and dropping, hand eye co-ordination, visual perception and color matching. If you have a child under 5 it is worth downloading the free version to see if it appeals to your child and if they enjoy it $1.99 seems a fair price for a full unlock.


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iTunes  link: Forestry – Funny Animals – INGAME OOO

Forestry - Forest Animals, Bedtime story for kids Forestry - Forest Animals, Bedtime story for kids by INGAME OOO

Price: $FREE

200000+ downloads worldwide!!! A lively, interactive application that will show your child a beautiful forest and life of its kind and wild inhabitants! • 17 wonderful fully animated locations! • .

NOTE: A fee was received to expedite this review to the top of our waiting list but this payment has not influenced the objectivity of the review and all opinions have been offered honestly.

Code drop 2.21.16 #sharethelove
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Mary is originally from England but now lives in California with her husband, dog, cat and three children. Mary and her family love Apple products and own an iPad2, iPad3, iPad Mini, iTouch, iPhone5 and several MacBook Pros. They also love cub scouts, skiing, camping and hiking. The family iPads are also used for therapy for their daughters Apraxia (speech disorder).


Find All Premium – Fine Motor Skill and Cognitive Development By Salka Games – Review and Giveaway



.iPhone Screenshot 5

What we love…

Bright colorful graphics, fun realistic sound effects, objects randomly placed each time you play, different objects within each category e,g. 4 kinds of flower

What we’d love to see…

Stronger parental gate, more educational value- adding vocabulary and advanced mode with categorization

Summary

Designed for very young iPad users Find-All works on visual perception, hand-eye co-ordination and fine motor skills by having the player find similar objects in a scene. Its bright colorful graphics and fun sound effects create an engaging app for very young players and the randomization of object placement increases its replay value.

Our Rating

Find All Premium - Fine Motor Skill and Cognitive DevelopmentFind All Premium-Fine Motor Skill and Cognitive Development is an app developed for toddlers from Salka Games. The child needs to find and touch all the similar objects in a scene, thus working on their visual perception skills, hand eye co-ordination and fine motor skills. This review is of the full version without in-app purchases,  a free version with IAP is also available. Music and sound effect volume can be adjusted in settings.

The app consists of a series of different scenes. In the first scene a boy is standing in a garden feeding the birds, and birds appear in random places all over the scene. The child needs to tap on all the birds, as they do so the birds fly away with the sound of fluttering wings. The next scene is similar but with a Teddy Bear holding a spoon of honey and bees that buzz away when touched. The third scene is in a fish tank with tropical fish who swim off screen when touched. There are 14 different scenes in all each with relevant sound effects. When the child has found all the objects their is applause and “way to go” appears on the screen, the app then automatically moves on to the next scene.

iPhone Screenshot 2

The scenes are very bright and colorful and have an old-fashioned feel to them. Each time the child re-plays a scene the objects appear in different places. Sometimes the objects are easy to find, other times they maybe on a similar colored background e.g. a purple candy over a purple dress making it much more challenging. The bright colorful graphics and fun realistic sound effects make it an engaging app for young iPad users and the objects being in different places each time you play increases its replay value.

There is oral or written language in the app apart from the written “way to go” when the scene is completed. I would love to see some more educational value added to the app by  working on simple vocabulary by naming the objects the child has to find e.g. “tap all the birds” or “find the flowers.” I like that the objects are not all the same e.g. there are 4 different varieties of flowers in the flower scene. This helps reinforce generalization, i.e. the notion they are all flowers even though they look different, but it would be reinforced more if the child heard them all described as flowers. It would also be nice to see the addition of a more advanced mode, where the child could also work on categorization,  color recognition or noticing a particular feature of the object e.g. “find the white flowers” or “find the standing pigs.”

iPhone Screenshot 3

The full app has no adverts or in-app purchases but does contain iTunes links to rate the app. currently the child lock consists of a simple addition question with 2 possible answers given. I feel this is too easy as even by random chance the child has a 50% chance of getting it right, I have spoken to the developer and they have promised to make it more secure. The free version of the app has 6 scenes for free with an IAP for full unlock, this has the same child lock.

Designed for very young iPad users Find-All works on visual perception, hand eye co-ordination and fine motor skills by having the player find similar objects in a scene. Its bright colorful graphics and fun sound effects create an engaging app for very young players and the randomization of object placement increases its replay value.

 

Find All Premium – Fine Motor Skill and Cognitive Development – Kateryna Salatova

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Price: $

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Free version: Find All – Fun learning game for kids and toddlers to develop attention and fine motor skills – Kateryna Salatova

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Price: $

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Giveaway

I will be dropping codes for the full version of this app in the review on Friday May 8th

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NOTE: A fee was received to expedite this review to the top of our waiting list but this payment has not influenced the objectivity of the review and all opinions have been offered honestly.

 

Mary is originally from England but now lives in California with her husband, dog, cat and three children. Mary and her family love Apple products and own an iPad2, iPad3, iPad Mini, iTouch, iPhone5 and several MacBook Pros. They also love cub scouts, skiing, camping and hiking. The family iPads are also used for therapy for their daughters Apraxia (speech disorder).

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