Sunday, November 22, 2009


Mastermind Toys offers a wide variety of fun, educational and exciting toys for this holiday season.

My four month old was sitting in her papasan chair and fussing a little as I was preparing dinner. Then, I put the Lamaze Garden Bug Foot and Wrist Rattle Set on her little feet and wrists. I was hopeful, but not sure that this would do the trick, since she has a yellow duck wrist rattle that hasn't captured her full attention lately...and since she was already fussing, I figured that if these Garden Bug rattles soothed her, then they really would be great!

Well, well, well! Her little eyes widened as she observed the rattles' bright colors and she was instantly interested in lifting her legs up so she could grab her newfound Buggie friends.

What we Like:

-She loved the vivid, bright colors of the little Garden Bug Rattles

-I could tell when she grabbed a Buggie wing and heard the crinkles, she was wondering where that sound came from. It's nice that the Lamaze Garden Bug Foot and Wrist Ratttle not only rattles, but the wings crinckle.

-The Lamaze Garden Bug Foot and Wrist Rattles kept my little one entertained until dinner was on the table...she really does enjoy them!

Now, the Kiddieland Learn N Play Activity Box was a big hit among my older daughters. The 2 year old's attention was captured for quite some time....and it's no wonder why. The Activity Box is LOADED with things to do, music, lights, "bells and whistles". The bright colors were attractive and there were so many activities on each of the six sides of the activity cube.

What we Like:

-So many activities...sure, there are activities on all 6 sides, but there are even multiple activities on each individual side! You can twist, turn, push, pull, and blinking lights and play with a pretend CD.

-The Learn N Play Actiity Box does a nice job of playing a variety of musical pieces, as well as varying the style of music (jazz, circus). I love that the Activity Box showcases Classical Music and Nursery Rhyme tunes.

-The activities are easy to figure out, so a child can play on her own and doesn't need a parent helping her to know what to do for each activity.

...Now, the Leap Frog Text and Learn...

For a 4 year-old child who has never used a handheld, the learning curve was a little slow. This toy is suggested for 3+ years of age. She needed to be shown how to use the directional keypad, how to jump from games to letter play and text mode. But, once she was shown a few basics, she was able to play with the Text and Learn by herself. She did enjoy learning this new skill and liked playing with the Text and Learn.

What we Like:

-On "Letter" mode, the Text and Learn sounds out the letter that your child pushes. This is a good review of letter sounds. The little on screen puppy helps to animate the example word starting with that lettter.

-My four year old really enjoyed the two games on this handheld, 'The Map Game' and 'The Bubble Game' that nurtured the use of the QWERTY keyboard and incorporated shape recognition.

Possible improvements:
-This toy could use more game options. Really, the only "games" it has are in letter mode when you push a letter and hear the sound it makes and a word that starts with the sound, the 'Map Game' (maneuver to find shapes) and the 'Bubble Game' (Press the letter shown in the bubble to pop it before it leaves the screen) in game mode, watching the puppy dance to music and free form texting the puppy in text mode.

-Text Mode asks if you want to write a text to the puppy...This requires parental support to help spell the message correctly. My daughter played around in this mode for a bit, but there wasn't much exciting to keep her in text mode. Text mode needs guidance, such as asking the child to fill in letters of words or asking the child to sound out a letter and push the correct letter (QWERTY keyboard practice)

The Leap Frog Text and Learn's 'Letter mode' is great for any child learning or reviewing their letters. If it had more games, it would be a great improvement!

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