April 20, 2010

Toy camping set review

One of Annie's new favorite pastimes is camping. She's actually never been camping, but she LOVES to pretend she is camping. So a few weeks ago when I was offered the chance to review a toy camping set, I jumped at the chance - I knew Annie would have a blast! She could camp inside all she wants (and I don't actually have to sleep in a tent outside - extra bonus!!)

The set is the Learning Resources Camp Set available here from toysandgamesonline.com. I've shopped with csnstores.com a few times before, and as always, I was impressed with their huge selection and fast shipping.

The first thing I noticed about the set is that it seems to be very high quality. I am often afraid when ordering plastic toys that they will be cheap and flimsy, but this set is made with very sturdy, heavy plastic.

The set comes with a canteen, a mini stove, a pot, a lantern, a utensil set, a camp shovel, a compass, and a first aid kit. I love that so many areas of camping are included - Annie has been cooking, playing first aid, digging a fire pit, and using her compass - she is getting the full camping experience (without me actually having to go camping - yay!)

Annie's favorite piece (and mine, too) is the lantern. It actually lights up (with 2 AA batteries), and it works great! Just tonight, Annie asked us not to turn on any lights so we could use the lantern and pretend we were camping while she changed into her PJs and got ready for bed.
One of my favorite features of the set is that it truly encourages imagination. Besides the light on the lantern and camp stove, there are no loud sounds or other gimmicks to these toys. Annie needs to use her mind to create a camp site in her head and uses the toys to enhance her scene. She stills need to create an imaginary fire pit, cook with imaginary food, and use imaginary band-aids to treat her imaginary owies. She can have fun with this set and still explore on her own.

One of the only complaints I have about the set is the compass - Annie loves the idea of using a compass, and this is one of the main reasons I was excited about this set. Unfortunately, the compass doesn't actually work. The needle does move, but it doesn't point North. To me, I would think this would be a great learning tool for our kids, and I think it is a shame that details was overlooked.
Annie has been enjoying her new set for the last several days - unlike some toys that kids play with for a few minutes and then forget, this set has so many different pieces that I know it will keep her interest now, and I know she will be able to grow into it as well. I actually look forward to many more days of camping with Annie! (as long as the bugs stay away!)