Preschool Years at Home

Laughing, Loving, and Learning Together

Creative Minds at Work — Through Play!

Creative minds at work ...

Creative minds at work …

Construction toys get lots of love in this house, especially magnetic construction toys. So when I had the opportunity to purchase Magtoys Magnetic Building Blocks – Toy for Children’s Creative Intelligence and Educational Development – 84 Pieces With Free Storage Bucket at a discount in exchange for an honest review, I snagged them.

Recreating the Globe Theatre ...

Recreating the Globe Theatre …

Now, my children are no strangers to the joy and versatility of magnetic building tiles. We’ve been amassing Magna-Tiles since Little Bear was a toddler, and we began collecting Magformers style= a couple of years later. Both options run $1/tile or more on sale, making a less-expensive alternative quite attractive to this budget-conscious mama.

Our  new Magtoys Magnetic Building Blocks arrived late one evening. (Yes, UPS delivers after the kids go to bed …) After opening the package and examining them, I left the case (Yes, they come with a sturdy plastic storage case!) in the middle of the living room floor for the kids to discover the next morning.

Little drummer boy ...

Little drummer boy …

Buddy Bear was the first to discover them. He crawled out of bed much too early and sleepily began making his way to the kitchen in search of breakfast, only to discover a new toy along the way. What did my sleepy, hungry boy do? He plopped right down beside the blocks and played with them for the next half hour!

Any toddler mom will realize this speaks volumes for a toy. Few things hold a 2 1/2-year-old’s interest for a full half hour. Even fewer things capture the attention of a tired, cranky, hungry toddler.

Shortly after Buddy Bear’s discovery, his sisters too crawled out of bed and headed for the kitchen. They too stopped short in the living room, sat down, and began to play. Given that we already own similar toys, I was somewhat surprised that our new Magtoys Magnetic Building Blocks captured Little Bear and Bitty Bear’s attention. So I asked the kids what they liked most about their new toy.

Little Bear immediately pointed to the variety of shapes. Most of our Magformers are squares and equilateral triangles, with a few pentagons thrown in for good measure. The Magtoys set included diamonds, hexagons, trapezoids, and isosceles triangles.


DSCN1194 For my younger two, the appeal was simpler. “WHEELS!” they squealed in unison, holding up the two sets of magnetic wheels included with the set.

As a mom, I wanted to see how the quality of this less expensive brand stood up to that of a more established brand. In comparing the two side by side, I found the components of this set to be almost identical to their more expensive counterparts. The magnets in these pieces are a fraction (less than 1/16 of an inch) smaller and the plastic a touch heavier. Despite the differences, these blocks held together just as well as the more expensive brand and proved to be compatible with the Magformers sets we already had.

Because tiny magnets pose a danger if swallowed, I actively tried to break a piece of this set to see just how easy it would be for my 2 1/2-year-old to get a magnet out of the plastic and into his mouth. I won’t say the task is impossible, but I will say that nothing I could envision him thinking of — throwing a piece across the living room, dropping a creation onto the hardwood floor, smashing a piece with a toy wooden hammer, stomping on one, etc. — cracked the plastic. At the end of the day, I felt comfortable leaving even my littlest builder to build to his heart’s content.

Sleeping Beauty's castle

Sleeping Beauty’s castle

One week in, this set of blocks is still getting daily play, and all three kids still enjoy playing with it. Today, Bitty Bear created a castle for Sleeping Beauty, while Buddy Bear showed me the different three-dimensional shapes he could create. Overall, I think Magtoys will be a great addition to our construction toy library, and I would recommend the product highly. Given the difference in cost, in fact, I would choose it over its name brand competitor.

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In the Good Ol’ Summertime …

Just fishin'

Just fishin’

My summer plans have been curtailed due to an injured Achilles’ tendon and a cumbersome pressure boot. But Little Bear and Bitty Bear enjoyed some old-fashioned summertime fun this weekend fishin’ with their daddy at a local park.

"Sister, take the reel ..."

“Sister, take the reel …”

No, they didn’t bait a hook or catch any fish. (It would seem they fish much like their mother. …) They each got a turn handling a rod and reel, however, and they managed *not* to embed a hook in anyone’s face. And that, my friends, is a WIN.

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