Posted in Gifted, parenting, product review, toys

Petite Amelie Wooden Dolls House – review

Post contains PR Product.

Ellie has such a kind and caring nature and she absolutely loves looking after her toys – she feeds them in her play kitchen, she puts them down for naps and she plays with such a vivid imagination. I love nothing more than sitting down with a cuppa and listening to the storylines she comes up with – although worryingly it usually starts with the Mum dying!!

I knew she would be over the moon with the wooden dolls house we received from Petite Amélie and she has played with it non-stop since she first saw it.

So here’s our review of our new dolls house. It’s possibly one of the few times Ellie has willingly let me bother her for photos!

In 2010 when a mum-to-be wasn’t able to find the cot of her dreams for her daughter – she took matters into her own hands and designed one herself and had it made – it was at that moment that Petite Amélie was born. They have since expanded their range of products to include complete baby and children’s bedrooms, transitional beds, infants chests of drawers and wardrobes, children’s bed linen and wooden toys – furniture perfect for Nurseries or Toddler Rooms..

Their main goal – to inspire parents to create a beautiful nursery that has unique furniture and accessories suitable for babies and children alike.

With so many beautifully designed, timeless products to choose from I found it difficult knowing what to pick when we were offered to choose something from the site – however since we already have all the furniture we need we decided to look at the wooden toys and decided on the La maison d’Amélie wooden dolls house.

Traditional Toys with a Modern Touch

The La maison d’Amélie wooden dolls house is a house of dreams! It’s stylish open fronted design is a great way to encourage children to play – the neutral tones of white, grey and black match with the natural wood perfectly too allowing it to be appealing to all children.

The wooden dolls house does come flat packed and was relatively easy to assemble when little hands arent trying to “help”. Initially I had decided to build the dolls house but found getting the balcony to fit a tad bit tricky so set Luke off on the task and of course, being the Master Builder he is, he did it in no time at all! The house also comes with a 19 piece furniture set too which is already assembled and matches the main house with its neutral colours and wood. It would be easy to add some colour and a bit of the childs personality to the house by painting the furniture but honestly I really love the natural look and love how it all looks inside when we’ve set it up.

The dolls house has rooms on 4 floors and just like a real home it has a kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, living room and office space as well as a balcony on the top floor too! The possibilities for play are endless – every time Ellie plays with it her role play is different to the last. We’ve had role play linked to every day life – bath time, breakfast and Ellie loves tucking her little family in to bed at night – and we’ve had rescue missions, flooding and evil pirates but Ellie’s favourite is to pretend she’s a giant reaching in through the window and scaring the children!

Our Overall Verdict

I particularly love the fact that the wooden toys from Petite Amélie are made from high quality materials (SFC wood and organic cotton where possible) and the house is EN71 safety tested and the paint used is safe for children too, I also like the additional thought on safety with the rounded edges.

We’ve had such many nights after school playing with our new dolls house, it’s been a fantastic way to watch Ellie’s imagination grow and we’ve used it to talk about our days when she hasn’t been so keen to share! It’s been a wonderful addition to Ellie’s playroom and I can’t wait to watch her grow and maybe one day pass on to her children too!

Have you had any toys or furniture from Petite Amélie?
Will you be buying wooden toys this year?
Christmas is only 92 days away after all!
Let us know in the comments below!

Disclosure – We were gifted the La maison D’Amelie wooden dolls house to review however as always all thoughts, opinions and photographs are my own.

Posted in motherhood, mothering a rainbow, Mum Blogger, mummy blog, parenting, Play, product review, Toddler Development, Toddler Play

Story Props – Developing Storytelling

Storytelling, reading stories and acting out known stories has quickly become one of our favourite pastimes as a family since Ellie arrived. Her love for books, nursery rhymes and everything literature has brought out a passion in me I haven’t had since I stopped reading a few years back.

Every night Ellie asks for a minimum of 3 stories, one read by me and two read by her Dad. She seems to obsess over certain ones for a while before going back to others but she listens intently until she is able to join in and pretty much tell the story herself. Recently we have been encouraging her to “read” books to herself, I know this is something a lot of EYFS children (reception/aged 4-5) can struggle with when learning to read and I want her to be able to use the pictures and tell the story in whatever way works for her. She has started reading stories to her favourite soft toys and loves flicking through the pages.

More recently she has been obsessed with acting out the traditional tale “The 3 Little Pigs”, she runs around building each house and waiting for the big bad wold (usually me ¬_¬) to come blow the house down. Her imagination is incredible and she will use whatever is around her to pretend. I recently aquired some masks from a teacher at work who doesn’t need them and it made me wonder what else was available to really help Ellie’s imagination and storytelling develop through her love of stories and play.

I came across a lovely lady called Sian who runs her own small business StoryProps.

Sian is an EYFS teacher and has used her knowledge and passion for learning to create props that children can use when reading or telling stories.
StoryProps provides handpainted items that help to ” develop a young child’s communication, language & literacy skills, and creative & imaginative development whilst increasing a love for stories, rhymes, characters and books ” (taken from the StoryProp website) and I completely agree.
Each item is beautifully handpainted to a great standard. My favourite is the Story Spoons which are perfect for enabling Ellie to create her own story around the characters. I can’t wait to order a set!

Follow StoryProps on Instagram and Facebook
To purchase your own set of wonderful StoryProps whether they are spoons, stones or cubes then head on over to their Etsy Shop 🙂

Posted in Gifted, motherhood, mothering a rainbow, Mum Blogger, mummy blog, parenting, product review, Rainbow Mummy, Sensory Play, Toddler Development, Toddler Play

Timber.Tots – 5 Advantages of Wooden Toys

For as long as I’ve been buying toys for Ellie I’ve been aware of the discussion between parents as to what is better for babies/toddlers/children wooden or plastic toys. Now I’ve always been on the fence I suppose because honestly, Ellie has her fair share of plastic and wooden toys. I have always tried to make a conscious effort to buy wooden toys where possible but found they are usually more expensive than plastic and in Ellie’s eyes they aren’t as colourful/exciting/playable as the plastic toys are advertised to be which has made it difficult to be as wood friendly as I’d like. We are two parents who are both on a Teaching Assistant wage (which I have to tell you really isn’t great…) and living penny to penny each month. Sometimes you just have to accept that what you want isn’t always achievable and that’s okay. I’m not here to judge, every parent does what they can to get through each day right?

Here are my 5 advantages to choosing wooden toys from my own personal experiences!

  1. They are DURABLE. Ellie is a tough cookie and she likes to play rough, as do most toddlers I would assume. Wooden toys are long-lasting and they don’t break easily meaning no little sharp bits on the floor. Ellie loves being outside so having her wooden toys means I can clean them easily too.
  2. They are SAFE. Plastic toys usually carry toxins and chemicals that you wouldn’t want near your babies/children. Wooden toys are safe to play with, don’t have chemicals and are usually painted with non-toxic paint which makes them perfectly safe to be gummed, licked etc by those playing with them. Wooden toys are designed not to break easily so there won’t be able broken pieces lying around with sharp edges.
  3. They encourage OPEN PLAY – whether this is imaginative play or real-life skills, the possibilities with wooden toys are endless. Without the constant electronics and noise, the wooden toys encourage children to use their imagination to build on the play. The toy might be a dinosaur but the child must know how to make a noise like a dinosaur or stomp like a dinosaur themselves. As the child’s imagination builds so does their play. They start to include real-life experiences and scenarios in to whatever they are playing with.
  4. They develop KEY SKILLS such as hand eye co-ordination, problem solving, reasoning skills and fine motor skills. Wooden toys can be made in all shapes and sizes making them perfect to develop the skills children need to hold a pencil. Poor development in these key skills at an early age can cause issues in later life.
  5. They are BEAUTIFUL. Their natural colour means they can be transformed in to any colour and anything a child dreams of. They can be monochrome to support babies development or bright and colouful to grab toddlers/childrens attention. They are timeless!

In the past few months I have treated Ellie to a few toys that I know she would get a lot out of. We became brand reps for a fantastic small business; Timber Tots who create and hand paint wooden animals. With so many different animals to choose from I found it so difficult choosing which Ellie would like most of all. I decided to show Ellie and let her decide…which she didn’t. She wanted the bear and the lion and the elephant and the giraffe and the dinosaur and the unicorn….and she continued until I took the phone away!

I decided that as she loves singing and nursery rhymes I would order her the 5 little ducks set and a green “Rex” dinosaur to start with. She has had so much fun singing, counting, matching the numbers and re-enacting Gigantosaurus. The possibilities have been endless, they have made me think more about encouraging her to learn through her play and let her explore things I wouldn’t have usually thought of. It’s far too easy to put the TV on and give myself 5 minutes to sit and enjoy the peace…that turns in to an hour because I just need to get these jobs done…and then before I know it she hasn’t played much at all.

I love how colourful and sturdy the timber tots toys are and I was impressed with how big they actually were. Although I am only a brand rep for three months I know I will be making regular purchases and building Ellie’s animal collection up as these are toys she will play with for years.

We’ve used our wooden toys in so many different ways and I am loving trying out things we’ve never done before too. We’ve used them when reading stories, playing outside, with small tuff trays and I have some amazing new ideas for our new order when it arrives.

We’ve even had fun singing nursery rhymes, Ellie loves singing and whenever she sees her 5 Little Ducks set she starts singing and playing with them.

5 Little Ducks set up with sensory rice and blue beads.

You can follow/contact Timber Tots on their Instagram and Facebook pages or their Website.

Disclosure: I am a brand rep for Timber Tots but have not been asked to review or post about our items other than share pictures on Instagram. All views and opinions are my own.
I have paid for all the toys we have (except the 5 little ducks which was a gift from the owner for joining their brand rep team!) HOWEVER I do have a fantastic 10% off code for anyone wanting to purchase their own. Just use RAINBOW10 at checkout…You’re welcome!!

Posted in Ellie, Gifted, motherhood, mothering a rainbow, Mum Blogger, mummy blog, parenting, Play, product review, Toddler Development, Toddler Play

Nursery Rhyme Play

For a while now I’ve been trying to figure out a way to bring Ellie’s love of nursery rhymes in to her play. She sings all day long and knows so many nursery rhymes, more than I know and verses I’ve never even heard of. I’ve always been envious of those parents who have the time to pre-plan activities for their babies and toddlers because it’s something I’ve always wanted to do with Ellie. Being a teaching assistant and working in a school based nursery during my pregnancy with Jason makes me even more aware of all the things that will give Ellie an advantage when she starts nursery and I am always surprised by the amount of children who grow up not knowing their basic nursery rhymes! I asked a child in my class the other day (year 2) about one of Ellie’s favourites and they didn’t know it. I find it really sad that children aren’t given the opportunities to learn them (I’m not judging or criticising…just makes me a bit sad).

I got in touch with Dee who runs The Little Sensory Box about one of her subscription boxes that will be released soon; I loved one of the items (I loved them all but one in particular) and wanted to know where she got it from and whether I could purchase one from her for Ellie. She very kindly offered to send us one to test out for her and I jumped at the chance to work with such a wonderful small business again that I definitely said yes please!

**FYI – Our review of The Percussion Box is available to read here**

This is where I finally let my creative juices flow. I wanted to build a themed activity around one product and I am so pleased with the outcome that I wanted to share it with you all. Please be nice as this is the first themed activity I’ve ever really done but I would love more ideas if people want to share!

I based the activities around the nursery rhyme 5 Currant Buns and focused on the different activities Ellie would enjoy doing. I tried to make it fun and create something we could revisit too. I had planned so many different things that I decided to run with this over the weekend as Ellie’s attention span isn’t very long and I didn’t want to force her to take part for too long as I knew she’d never come back to it otherwise.

Again, working in a school has encouraged me to fit in some type of learning and 5 Currant Buns is a great rhyme for counting forwards and backwards and we have even looked at matching numbers and missing numbers while messing around too. The first thing we did was explore the glove we were gifted from The Little Sensory Box Ellie already knew the song so she was keen to sing it as soon as I introduced the glove to her. She counted the numbers, pretended to eat the buns off my fingers and joined in with singing. We used the puppet alongside some pictures I printed off Twinkl and laminated so that I could write the numbers on to help with Ellie’s number recognition.

Ellie is confident in recognising numbers to 10 so I knew she would find this easy however I know that constant repetition in mathematics is a good thing so I decided to do this anyway. Eventually my aim is to use the cards but have Ellie write the numbers.

We also used the puppet and the laminated bun cards to role play the rhyme. I laminated a penny coin that I also printed off the internet and everytime someone pays with a penny Ellie would role play it and take her bun away. We later developed this again and used playdough to make the currant buns for her to take away too. She loved adding the playdough and cupcake cases as it gave her something else and encouraged her play to last longer.

Another activity I printed off was some colouring sheets that linked to the rhyme; Ellie loves colouring so I knew this would be a hit for her. She recognised the currant buns and the penny and started singing it again, asking for me to sit with the glove while she coloured. It was a lovely, calm activity before her bedtime that really helped settle her (and wasn’t messy which was a win for me too!)

We came back to the rhyme the next day and did some baking. I had planned on making actual currant buns but as I don’t like them I decided on biscuits instead. It would have been a waste and I found a Paw Patrol Biscuit kit for 85p in our local Home Bargains which persuaded me and we all love chocolate biscuits in this house. Ellie really enjoys baking but it feels really stressful while she is still so little so it’s something I tend to try and do as little as possible which I hate as I love baking too. I hope that it will be one of our mummy-daughter things when she gets a bit older that we enjoy doing together as I’ve dreamt of baking with my children for so long. I found the biscuit kit was probably aimed at just the right timing for Ellie as she was engaged right up until the end where she almost launched herself off the worktop giving me a heart attack and never wanting to bake again! LOL! All was fine and Ellie helped mix, pour and squish the biscuits. Double bonus points for the fact that they have Paw Patrol on them and she couldn’t wait to put the edible stickers on the top and eat them.

We’ve had such a lovely weekend and I know it is something I definitely want to do again. Having a plan has helped us all this weekend and I’ve felt that Ellie has enjoyed playing more. We have also dodged our Saturday meltdown sessions YAY!!

The Nursery Rhyme Glove will be available in The Birthday Box (available soon!!) and can be added to the Subscription Boxes which are already available to purchase. The baby’s first year subscription boxes focuses on key development stages and will arrive in four boxes throughout the first year and the Birthday Box can be added to finish the years subscription off perfectly!

To find out more about the subscription boxes and The Birthday Box, subscribe to The Little Sensory Box or follow them on Instagram 💖

If anyone has any other ideas for nursery rhymes/story play that doesn’t cost the earth please share them!! All my ideas would cost me more than I get paid unfortunately.

Disclaimer - I was gifted the 5 Currant Bun hand glove from The Little Sensory Box but was in no obligation to promote. All views and opinions are my own.