Thursday, November 19, 2009

LivingPlaying store review

I recently made my first purchase from LivingPlaying. Mostly, it was a birthday surprise for my soon-to-be three year old. It's a big secret until her birthday, but I'll review her gift after the big event.

LivingPlaying offers a variety of toys that encourage creative play. Some are made in Europe, some in the USA, and some in China. There is a section for eco-friendly and fair trade toys, and none of those toys are made in China.

My favorite part of the store is the section devoted to Waldorf and Montessori learning and play. I found this great puzzle, which is perfect for fall and perfect for Linnea.

Layered Oak Leaf Puzzle (on sale $17.99)

Linnea can do this because there is one piece at a time, but the layers make it challenging.Linnea has to figure out which is the littlest leaf left and then get it oriented correctly. It's just the right amount of challenge for her. The puzzle enhances sorting, spatial placement and manual dexterity skills.

Here's another puzzle that is fun and educational for toddlers.

Wooden Layered Hen Puzzle (on sale $17.99)

Although, some of the toys are made in China, I learned about LivingPlaying through my involvement with the Handmade Toy Alliance. Jennifer is very concerned about toy safety and is very thorough about making sure the toys she sells are safe and CPSIA compliant.

While Jennifer prefers to offer toys that are not made in China, the new CPSIA law is making that more difficult to do. Increasing numbers European companies have pulled out of the American market. Handmade toys are becoming scarce because few carters can afford the costs of testing. Many larger companies such as Plan Toys are passing the costs of testing to the consumers by raising their prices. I have heard these frustration from many store owners who are concerned about being able to continue to offer safe, high quality playthings. You can learn more here.

Jennifer's recommendation, Magnatiles!

Jennifer says, "This is by far my kids’ favorite thing to play with—all of them from age 4 through 8!" This open-ended building set contains 100 tiles: 50 small squares, 4 large squares, 15 isosceles triangles, 11 right triangles and 20 equilateral triangles. An instruction sheet with idea guide is also enclosed.

The toy teaches geometric relationships and encourages mathematical thinking, patterning, shape recognition, building and motor skills - not that your kids will notice. From what I hear, they'll be too busy having fun. Several of you have also written to tell me how much your children love this toy.

Magnatiles usually sell for $119.99, but use the coupon code LivPlayM100 for $10 off!

LivingPlaying wraps all of the toys in turquoise and lime green tissue paper for free, and also includes a hand written note (from Stubby Pencil Studio!) card with gifts.

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