Melissa & Doug Wooden Sandwich-Making Set

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Review:

We have a number of Melissa & Doug play food sets, as my kids love them and play with them frequently. This is the one they play with least. My daughter likes the hamburger fixings, but seems less interested in everything else, and my son mostly ignores it entirely in favor of his Melissa & Doug Cutting Food Set. It is sturdy and well made, but spends most of its time on the shelf.

My rating:2.5 Stars (2.5 / 5)

Melissa & Doug Grill Set

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Review:

We purchased this years ago as a gift for a young nephew, who played with it for several years before passing it back to our children when he outgrew it. The set has changed slightly in the intervening time – our set has cherry tomatoes, whereas the current set appears to have tomato slices.

My feelings about this set are a little more mixed than most Melissa & Doug products. The kids have a great time cutting up the onion and pepper and skewering the meat and vegetables. They are high quality and have stood up well to frequent play by several children of various ages over several years. They can also be used to help teach basic skills such as colors and patterns.

However, my kids barely play with the grill itself, which is kind of poor quality by Melissa & Doug standards. It consists of a wooden box (no complaints there) with a sheet of sturdy plastic with lines drawn on it to represent the “grill”. The coals are painted on the bottom of the box. I think it would feel more realistic if there were either some play coals to rearrange with the tongs or real bars on the grill (or, preferably, both). As it is, the grill gets used mainly to store everything when not in use.

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My rating:3 Stars (3 / 5)

Melissa & Doug Ice Cream Sets – Help Us Choose!

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I’ve been starting to thing about Christmas presents for my kids and am trying to choose between two Melissa & Doug ice cream sets. My kids both love play food and they had a ball with the Melissa & Doug Ice Cream Scoop Set (right) when they got to play with it at a relative’s house. I was planning to get that set for them when I noticed a similar one, the Melissa & Doug Slice and Scoop Sundae Set (below left), and now I’m wondering if the Sundae Set might be even better.

I like that the Ice Cream Scoop Set has two scoops, two cones, and four flavors of ice cream, making my two children (hopefully) able to play with it together without fighting too much about who does what, whereas the Sundae Set has only one scoop and one bowl, so one child has to serve and the other to eat. On the other hand, if they do squabble while playing with the Ice Cream Scoop Set, the 2 year old might clonk the 7 year old with the wooden cones, which were pretty heavy and solid and might be more painful than the bowl from the Sundae Set.

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I also like that the Ice Cream Scoop Set comes with an ice cream carton to store everything in. On the other hand, I love that the Sundae Set has a banana and strawberry that you can cut up. (The two year old in particular absolutely loves their Melissa & Doug Cutting Food Set.) The Sundae Set also has sundae toppings, which I think they’ll both like as well.

Decisions, decisions… Which set do you think I should choose?

Work Bench ‘N Box

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Review:

Any time I get out the screwdriver to work on something, my two and a half year old son is sure to be close behind, begging to have a turn. Sometimes he’ll even open the closet and ask me to get it down for him. Since a real screwdriver isn’t a safe toy for a toddler to play with unsupervised, I decided to get him a little toy toolbox of his own so he could play with screwdrivers whenever he wanted.

This proved somewhat easier said than done. Most of the initial toy tool sets I researched were plastic and didn’t sound well made. Then I looked into the Melissa & Doug Take-Along Tool Kit Wooden Construction Toy (24 pcs), which seemed much closer to what I had in mind. Melissa & Doug are generally reliable purveyors of high quality toys, and the price was very attractive. However, I was put off the set by the reviews complaining that there were no threaded holes for the screws. What’s the point of a toy screwdriver if it can’t screw anything in? So I went looking for better options.

Finally, I found it with the Work Bench ‘N Box set by Wonderworld. The Work Bench ‘N Box has a hammer, wrench, and screwdriver, nails, screws with washers, and more, as well as a sturdy tool box to carry the set in that also doubles as the work bench. The bench includes a variety of holes on the top and sides, including both threaded and non-threaded. Everything is made of eco-friendly sustainable rubber wood except the two nails and the head of the wrench, which are plastic.

The toy was an instant hit with my son, who immediately started banging away with the hammer. He had a little more trouble with the wrench and screwdriver, but the toy should be excellent to help him develop his fine motor skills. It has held up well to the banging so far and seems like a very sturdy and well made toy. My only complaint is that the nails are a bit difficult to remove, so I will have to do that for him, but otherwise I am very pleased with the purchase so far, and so is he!

Note: Wonderworld makes a similar toy toolbox called the Wonderworld Little Tool Box Set Best Learning Toys Improved Skills Kids Toy that also appears to be an excellent choice and which has a saw with a velcro block that children can “saw” apart in addition to the hammer, screwdriver, and wrench. Although I’m pretty sure my son would love the saw, I thought the other tools in the set looked more juvenile than the tools that came with the Work Bench ‘N Box and I wanted something that my son would get several more years of enjoyment out of, plus there were fewer holes for the nails and screws, so I decided to go with the Work Bench ‘N Box.

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My rating:4 Stars (4 / 5)

Melissa and Doug Cutting Food

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Review:

We have several of the Melissa and Doug wooden food sets and this is probably the best. I wish I’d gotten it years ago. My sister’s mother-in-law (a former elementary teacher) gave it to my son (then 18 months old) to play with during a visit to their house and he loved it so much that we decided to buy one of our own. He got the hang of cutting the pieces almost immediately, though he still struggles a bit with putting them back together. I really think he’d entertain himself with this set for hours at a time if I didn’t get tired of helping him put them back together after awhile. My 7 year old daughter also likes it, but not as obsessively as her brother.

The pieces are sturdy and well made and have held up well to frequent play by an enthusiastic toddler. Highly recommended.

My rating:5 Stars (5 / 5)

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