Thursday, November 5, 2009

TO DIE FOR THURSDAY: Busy Zoo Activity Center

With the holidays quickly approaching, you probably have family members asking you what to get your for your little ones.  I've started putting together a list for the girls but it's hard to know which toys are as good as they look, so I try to rely on recommendations from my mommy friends.  Since I've gotten so many good ideas from them, I thought I'd return the favor with my own suggestion in today's TO DIE FOR THURSDAY post.

We went to a fabulous first birthday party this summer and in the guest of honor's living room sat the most fantastic looking toy ever - the Busy Zoo Activity Center. 

Gabrielle and Alaina were immediately mesmerized by all of the colors and movable objects, and I made a mental note to add this fun new find to our "must have" list.  When we received a gift card for the girls' first birthday, I knew exactly what it was going toward.  From the moment I opened the box, they were all over it.

[NOTE: I have a lot of great pictures of the girls enjoying their Busy Zoo but I had to use this one because they're sporting their Bronx Bomber gear - Alaina's in her pinstripes and Gabrielle has on her Yankees onesie from Uncle Jason.  Can you say World Series Champs?]

What I love about the Busy Zoo is that all four sides and the top have different interactive activities to engage your child.  They include animal alphabet spinners, a silly critter flip-flop puzzle, peek-a-boo doors, squiggly tracks, snake-along beads and animal paths.  The fact that it's five-sided is especially great with twins - they can each find something to play with so there's no need to fight over the toy.

The Busy Zoo is made from solid wood and has rounded edges so there's no potential for eye gauging or major injury, and it's 18 inches high and 12 inches square so it doesn't take up a ton of room.  If there's one drawback, in my opinion, it's how lightweight the toy is.  The girls love to pull up on it and it's not heavy enough to sustain their weight.  But after tipping over with it a few times, they've gotten the hang of kneeling to play with it instead.

The Busy Zoo is made by Parents Magazine and is supposed to promote hand and eye coordination.  It's recommended for ages 12-18 months but I wish I had gotten it earlier.  I think Gabrielle and Alaina would have enjoyed from 9 months and maybe even earlier.  I've seen it retail for as much as $99 but you can find it at here at Target for $48.99.

Like this recommendation?  Throughout the month of November, I'll be featuring some of Gabrielle and Alaina's other favorite things and assembling them into the AFOMFT Holiday Must Have List.  But since I only have experience with girls one year old and younger, I need some help making sure there's something on the list for everyone.  That's where you come in!  Is there a toy or other product that your little one loves?  Post a comment here letting me know what it is (include a link if possible), what age it's for and why it should make the Must Have List.  Every recommendation will earn you one entry into a drawing for a $25 Visa Gift Card which will be given away on November 30th.  What are you waiting for?  Let's hear about a few of your favorite things!

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  1. I got the twins a VTech Alphabet Train last year for Christmas. They were about 8 months old and they LOVED it. Their 2 year old sister was also a huge fan. One year later, they're still playing with it. They ride it, they play with the alphabet blocks, they hide their toys under the seat. It has also never had to have the batteries changed in the year of use. That's wonderful in itself!

  2. My kids 18 mo-3 all like Today's Kids Soft Rock and Bounce Rocker. The seat harness was great from 9 months on. At about 12 mos, we took the harness off so they could get on and off by themselves. They bounce and rock daily on this thing. It's fun with the bright colors and textures and soft so I don't have to worry about injuries!

  3. This is the all time favorite toy in our home for our kids! It plays music and the kids jump to their hearts content. It wears them out and ensures a long nap. :) It's great for shack wacky kids in the winter time and doesn't take up a ton of space.

  4. So happy you posted this since I was looking at another thing like this and wasn't impressed with it. This is going on their list, unless I cave and buy it sooner for them. Thanks Danielle!

  5. We have this Activity Center and it wasn't a huge hit with my kids but they still play with it every once in a while. They're not much into toys that involve sitting in once spot. ;)

  6. Little People! My kids love to play with them at my sister's house.


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