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My nephew has just had his first birthday and he loves anything musical or anything that he can use to make some sort of noise. My sister actually spotted the Xylophone in the Early Learning Centre catalogue and thought that he may like that for his birthday so I decided to purchase it for him. The Xylophone cost me £15.00 which I think was fairly reasonable as it was musical and it also looked as though it was made quite strong. The product is available to buy in store and online from The Early Learning Centre. The xylophone is for children aged from 9 months. Although the Xylophone is made from strong plastic, it's actually quite light to hold which is good. The main colour of the xylophone is a light green colour and there are 5 keys on the xylophone, each a different colour. The colours do how-ever repeat twice. On each end of the xylophone are 2 beaters which can be taken off the end for the child to hold. They can then use the beaters to hit the xylophone to create different notes and music. The 2 beaters are different colours and have a loop at the bottom which makes it easier for a child to hold. The ends are flat and rounded. On one of the xylophone there are 2 black buttons. One of these switches the xylophone on and off and the other one can be selected so the keys on the xylophone either play music or just a note when it's pressed/hit. I put this is front of my nephew and took a beater to show him how to use it. He picked up a beater and hit the xylophone gently with the beater. When it played a musical note he was most impressed and hit the beater on the xylophone again. He played with the xylophone for a few minutes before getting bored and crawling off. He has played with the xylophone a few more times, and when we change the keys to the music he sits and rocks to the music. Unfortunately he doesn't play with the xylophone as much as I thought he would and he does tend to get bored of it within a few minutes. The music on the xylophone seems to be more popular than the actual music tone which plays when you hit one of the bars on the xylophone. The xylophone can be wiped with a damp cloth is anything is spilt onto it and I found that things wipe off very easily, due to the xylophone being made from a strong type of plastic. The xylophone takes 3 x button cell batteries, which lasts a long time so long as the xylophone is switched off after use, otherwise this will of course run the batteries down. In terms of value, after playing with the xylophone with my nephew I think it probably was a little pricey, especially as my nephew doesn't seem to spend much time playing on it. The quality of the product is quite good and it's strong but also light which means it's great for packaging into a box or taking in the car for a short trip. I give this product 4 out of 5 stars as I don't think it's actually worth the £15.00 I paid for it. (review may also appear on ciao)
Christmas 2010 was a very momentous and exciting occasion; it was my twins first Christmas. Myself and Mr Lools were the excited ones, at 11 months old the boys were too young to understand what Christmas was about. So taking on our roles as Mr and Mrs Claus we set about purchasing presents, guided by the ELC catalogue. My boys love music so Mr Lools and I decided to purchase some "musical" presents one being the ELC My First Xylophone. ***What Is It?*** The ELC "My First Xylophone" is a battery operated plastic xylophone. It is rectangular and made from blue plastic and is about 30cm long by 15cm wide. There are 5 plastic keys on the Xylophone (red, orange, yellow, green and blue) which are about 2cm by 4cm, all which when pressed make a different musical sound. The Xylophone comes with 2 blue plastic beaters to play with. These are quite slim and long which makes them very easy for a child to hold and are durable to be bashed about. There are two buttons on the top of the xylophone. A switch to turn the toy on or off and a demonstration button which when pressed plays 5 different pieces of music. The Xylophone uses three AA sized batteries which are supplied with the toy. ***Suitability*** ELC states that this toy is suitable for children from 9 months old. I would say this is quite a basic Xylophone and the 5 different keys are large enough for a child of this age to press with their hands. With some help from parents a 9 month old should be able to develop their hand-eye coordination in order to hit the keys with the beaters, although this will probably take practice. Because of the plastic beaters, I would definitely say a 9 month old (and in my case two 13 month olds) need supervision when using the beaters. These are made from quite hard plastic so children could hit themselves or another child with these beaters which would hurt. Because the Xylophone is quite basic from toddlers over 2 years old this maybe a little too basic and they would lose interest in it quite quickly. ***Availability*** My First Xylophone is available from ELC both online at ( www.elc.co.uk ) and in store. Mothercare and Boots also stock ELC toys and you can purchase this toy both online and in selected stores. ELC state the RRP is £15.00 for the My First Xylophone however there are often special offers on this toy. I purchased this toy for £7.50 in November 2010 from ELC online. The toy was also included in the Christmas 3 for 2 offer at Boots. ***Using it*** Unlike many other toys from ELC and other manufacturers the My First Xylophone was relatively easy to take out of the packaging and set up. It simply needed a plastic tab to be pulled from the battery section and it was ready to turn on and use. The Xylophone is operated by a simple on off switch. This is very easy to move and push to on/off. My only criticism of this switch is that it is very easy for young babies to accidentally switch off whilst they are playing which can be frustrating for the child if they are pressing buttons and no sounds are being made. There is also a button which when pressed "demo" music is played. There are 5 different tunes that are played. The main function of the xylophone is the noises made by hitting the five keys. Each of these keys is a different colour and plays a different sound ranging from low notes to higher notes. These keys are large and easy for a baby to press which makes this a good toy for younger children who have limited hand eye coordination. This is not an extremely noisy toy but the sounds made and the music played is quite loud especially if you have another child playing in the room. Personally I feel the toy would benefit from a switch like other ELC toys for a half volume and full volume option. This is especially the case when demo tunes are played. My First Xylophone is a fun toy but also educational and has learning benefits. For older babies and toddlers, because of the brightly coloured design and keys you can teach your child colours and ask them to press the red key for example and make a game of this. For younger children the Xylophone helps with their hand - eye coordination and physical development. Initially just using their hand to hit the keys, moving on to actually holding the beaters and using these to hit the notes. I noticed after a few weeks of play both my boys (who were 11 months at the time) were very confident at playing with the xylophone and could hit the different notes with the beaters, and squealed with delight as a sound was played. Personally I feel the tunes played by the Xylophone are poor because it is classical music. Personally I would have preferred nursery rhymes which we could sing along to, or tunes which you could teach your child to play. The classical tunes are so complex no adult or child could possible play these on this Xylophone. The xylophone is made from a hard durable plastic and is perfect for rough play. The toy is sturdy when played with on the floor or at a highchair but still light enough for a child to carry and pick up. My boys are small 13 month olds are both of them are able to pick up the toy (in their own fashion) and move it to where they want to play with it. It has been dropped and pulled about a lot since Christmas, and even dropped from the height of a highchair, yet is still in working order and has no scuffs or scratches on it. The plastic beaters that come with the xylophone are also durable. These are quite long and thin with circular ends which are very easy for younger children to hold. The beaters are quite long and I think for babies that are 9 months old (especially those that are smaller) the beaters might be quite long for them to hold and more difficult to hold and hit the keys with. My boys seemed to pick up the skill of holding the beaters and hitting the keys within a few days (at 11 months old). The beater are quite noisy when younger children hit them onto the xylophone, in addition to the noise from the keys you hear an echo of bang, bang, bang as your child makes music which I think for some children is quite an attraction in itself. In fact at times I think the boys would prefer to have the beater to chew on or crawl around the room and hit the various pieces of furniture rather than actually play the xylophone. The beaters are made from hard plastic are make perfect "weapons" as a mother of two mischievous boys I would never leave either one or both of them unsupervised with these beaters as both of them like to hit the beaters off themselves, each other and items of furniture. This could cause quite a lot of damage and injuries. If I do leave them alone or have to turn my back I confiscate the beaters so the boys can still press the keys with their hands and make "music". ***Overall*** This is a good quality toy from ELC which is fun yet educational. Personally I feel it is suited to slightly younger babies and toddlers rather than older toddlers as it is very basic. For older toddlers a Xylophone with more parts and sounds would be more desirable. However for children around the 1-2 years old this is very easy to use, colourful and has educational benefits. The beaters can be a slight hazard for younger children, therefore it is advisable to supervise at all times or just play with hands. The demo tunes are not my favourite aspects, because of the classical tunes and the fact these are tunes either an adult or child would not be able to play on the Xylophone. It's a shame that ELC did not make this toy with the option to have it on 2 different volumes like with their other toys. Overall another good quality durable toy from ELC.
Santa was super generous this year and brought lots of presents for nine month old Freddy, one of which was this, The ELC My First Xylophone. This was a toy that Mummy and Daddy helped Santa choose as we love doing all sorts of creative activities with Freddy and he loves music. When Santa bought this it cost the princely sum of £15 but it's currently available in the ELC for a very reasonable £7.50. What Can You Play? This battery operated xylophone is a good size at 33cm x 15cm and fits nicely on Freddy's high chair tray, meaning that he can play with it while waiting for his dinner to be cooked. The main body is a pale blue and is made of a durable plastic. There are a total of five keys each of which is a different colour and plays a different note, while the notes don't exactly sound the same as if the keys were made of metal or wood, they do actually sound pretty good. The on/off switch is easy to operate as it simply slides from one setting to the other and there is a demo button that plays one of five different tunes. The battery compartment is secured by one of those tiny screws, and the xylophone requires three AA batteries of which a demonstration set are supplied (and these batteries are still going strong after a month of regular use). Along with the xylophone itself, there are also two beaters, that are approximately 20cm long and made of solid plastic. All in all, the xylophone gives the impression of being a durable toy that will last for many years. I Play The Xylophone To be brutally honest, Freddy wasn't particularly impressed with this when he first opened it on Christmas morning. But, I'm not going to hold the xylophone to blame for that so much as the fact that Freddy was an excited, slightly over-stimulated little boy that morning. Mind you that wasn't such a bad thing, as in common with many baby toys this was very firmly attached to the packaging with plastic ties, so at least we had plenty of time to release it. I'd like to leave a note to baby toy manufacturers here : please find another way of packaging toys, babies do not understand the concept of waiting, in most cases they want the toy NOW. Once the xylophone had been removed from the packaging all we needed to do was pull a out the plastic tab in the battery compartment and the xylophone was ready to play with. Although the xylophone is sturdy, it's still quite light, certainly light enough for Freddy to lift and examine, but it's a little too bulky for him to move while crawling. I would imagine that he'll have no difficulty carrying it around once he's walking and steady on his feet. Although he does occasionally play with this on the floor, he's not the steadiest when sitting, so he normally plays with this while sitting in his highchair where he won't fall when he gets a little over-enthusiastic. Freddy has no trouble switching the xylophone on, but he is a baby who loves to press buttons and slide switches so it would probably be a little harder for most babies to manage this. Once the xylophone is switched on, the keys are easy to press and so make wonderful music. I did have to show Freddy how to use the beaters and to be honest, although he can use them, they are a little too long for a baby his age. Not to be beaten by a toy, Freddy has worked out his own way of using them, so although they are unbalanced and hard for him to control when he holds them at the ends, he finds that they work perfectly when he holds them in the middle. (Clever little thing isn't he). What I do like about the beaters is that they clip securely into slots on the xylophone when not in use, meaning that they are less likely to be lost. Although there are only five notes, Freddy still manages to make lots of noise with the xylophone. The notes themselves are relatively quiet, loud enough to be heard, but not so loud that they drown out everything else. What do make the noise, are the beaters, as they are made of solid plastic they do make a lot of noise as they're banged against any and every surface. In fact, there are plenty of times that the beaters manage to drown out the actual music. I would suggest that if you do purchase this for your child that you never leave your child unsupervised with the beaters as they could cause a lot of damage to any ornaments (or television screens). Oh and believe it hurts if the child accidentally hits you with one. As well as being able to create his own tunes by pressing on the keys, Freddy can press the demo button to release one of five reasonably short tunes. Although Freddy always has a big grin on his face when he presses on this button, I personally have a couple of problems with these tunes. Firstly they are not tunes that Freddy can actually be expected to recognise, seeing as they are all classical and obscure classical at that. It would have been far better, in my opinion, for some of the tunes to have been nursery rhymes that we could have sung along to. My second problem, is that although Freddy can hit the keys and 'play along', there's not a chance of him being able to emulate the tunes. In fact there's no way anyone could as the demos include notes that are not available on the xylophone. With there only being the five notes, your child won't be able to play anything but the simplest of tunes. I can just about manage Three Blind Mice, but that's it. I was slightly disappointed that there wasn't a simple 'song book' included, it would have been a nice addition for slightly older children, it wouldn't have needed to include anything more than the order in which colour keys should be pressed. What Can You Learn? The Early Learning Centre is famous for producing and selling toys that are not only fun but will also help children learn and develop new skills. The My First Xylophone is no exception to this, and will encourage your child to develop a range of different skills. Billed as being suitable for babies from nine months of age, this will help these younger babies improve their hand-eye coordination as they learn to control where they hit with the beaters. The immediate reward of the music playing will encourage them to press more and more notes. These babies will also begin to appreciate music, Freddy loves to play (and sing) along as we listen to music on the radio. As baby gets a little older, the xylophone can also be used to help with colour recognition. As each key is a different colour, you can talk about which colour they are pressing and then as they become more confident at naming colours you can ask them to hit the specific key. Final Words This is yet another excellent educational and yet fun toy from the Early Learning Centre. Freddy loves sitting in his high chair, hitting the keys and making music. He finds it easy to make music by either pressing the keys with his hands or using the beaters and he really enjoys playing along to music on the radio. But that's not to say it's a perfect toy, the beaters are a little too long and could cause serious damage if the child is less than adequately supervised. I'm also not that keen on the demo tunes, and think it would have been better if they had been tunes that a young child would recognise rather than classical tunes. Oh and a simple song book wouldn't have gone amiss either. But all in all, I reckon that the xylophone is worth a pretty reasonable four stars out of five, as Freddy loves it, it is durable and the batteries last for ages.