September 8, 2009

KIDS BUY PRODUCTS

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Citiblocs- Not Your Typical Building Blocks

52_block_box.pngAt a playgroup last week, one of the moms remarked that she was going to try to get away from all the character-licensed, bright and flashy electronic toys this Christmas. She wanted to make a return to more traditional, openended toys for her three children. I was more than happy to tell her about the new CitiBlocs my kids have been playing with the last month or so. When I was first asked to review CitiBlocs, I knew that my children weren't going to be old enough to build some of the amazing things that are possible, but I was very curious about how Nadia would use the blocks. I've loved watching Nadia incorporate these seemingly simple, yet ingenious blocks into her play! Click on Read more... for my full review of CitiBlocs and for details about how to win a starter set for your kids.

Fun Factor **** - CitiBlocs are not your typical building blocks. They are very simple wooden planks about 5 inches long x 1 inch wide x a little over 1/4 inches thick. Each block is precision cut to be exactly the same as the next which means you'll never run out of a crucial style of block. CitiBlocs are marketed with some pictures of some of the coolest structures you've ever seen built with blocks, but the way Nadia has played with the blocks has been a little different. She and I built a high-rise for her Littlest Pet Shop, a very basic structure, but functional nonetheless. One day, I found her throwing the blocks down the steps to the landing because she was "feeding the ducks." Maybe a little noisy, but creative. On the evening after her first Royals game, she used the red and blue blocks to create a baseball field with 9 Royals players and 9 Mariners players. This was all her own idea and her dad was in heaven! Right now, she's sitting across from me at the table spreading the blocks out to represent the land masses breaking apart in prehistoric times before dinosaurs evolved or converted, as she just told me, into birds. Finally, a couple of days ago, she used the blocks to build a house for her LPS critters all by herself. CitiBlocs stand up amazingly well on their ends, and getting them to balance is excellent practice for honing Nadia's fine motor skills, too. I love it that even though Nadia can't build the elaborate structures that are someday going to be possible thanks to the clever design of Citiblocs, she has still found was to not just build with them, but to incorporate them into her play in other ways!

Here is the very basic, but very functional Littlest Pet Shop high rise. It lasted until Isaac woke up and deemed it unsafe and promptly demolished it!

We have both the basic natural set and the red and blue set which makes 106 blocks total. They all fit in acute little basket I picked up at Target with space to spare. My point being, they don't take up a lot of spacelike other building blocks we have, and I don't have to worry about these blocks being scattered about thehouse. They are safe and non-toxic and while they are marketed as being for kids 3+, I personally worry asmuch about my 18 month old playing with them as I do some of the other toys we have around. When yourkids are ready to really start building, you can even download a building ideas and instructions guide. And, in case you're wondering, while 106 blocks sounds like a lot, they can actually be picked up amazingly quickly.

Here Nadia is building a "house." I loved watching her stack the blocks up on their ends. It took a lot of concentration, and I was very impressed with how patient she was.

Materials/Durability **** - As I mentioned, CitiBlocs are non-toxic. They are made out of New Zealand Radiata Pine, precision cut and then stained using water-based paints. They comply with both the CPSIA and the European Standards of Safety. CitiBlocs is committed to making a safe toy while also using green manufacturing practices as well. If you're looking to feel good about the toys you buy, I think that you will find CitiBlocs to meet those standards. Each CitiBloc is pretty light, but they feel very sturdy. They aren'tgoing to be easily broken in two and I'm confident that these blocks will last through years of play. Ours have been fed to more than one flock of ducks and are no worse for the wear, even after bouncing off the tiled floors!

And finally, the baseball diamond. I couldn't get the last red "player" into the picture. Notice the coaster that is home plate and Sizzles the mascot. Yes, I know that there are normally on 9 players on the field at a time, but she had a lot of fun creating this with her dad!

Price *** - A basic starter set of 52 pieces is only $15. You can also save by buying 100 piece, 200 piece and 3oo piece sets, too. Two 52 piece sets would be $30, but the 100 piece set is only $27.50. Since we are notbuilding truly elaborate structures at this point, I feel like 100 pieces is more than sufficient, but when the kids really get into building later, I know we will want to have a bigger set. And remember, they don't take upmuch space. There is no reason to be scared of having to store 100, 200 or even 300 blocks!

Overall Rating ***1/2 - CitiBlocs may be new, but they are well on their way to being a classic, at least in our house. Their simple nature doesn't limit my children's imaginations. I look forward to someday soon beingable to start building our first real CitiBlocs structure, but for now, I'm happy just watching them become food for the dinosaurs and ducks, or shifting land masses, or baseball players. I know it seems early, but if youare already starting to make that list of ideas for the holidays, don't overlook CitiBlocs. You can buy them directly from the CitiBlocs website and earn CitiBucks to use on future purchases, or they are also available from our affiliate Amazon.com for just a little less with free shipping on orders over $25.

Did you think that I forgot about the giveaway? CitiBlocs is giving away a winner's choice set of either the 52 block set or the 54 block red and blue set.

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