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ELC Soft Stuff

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11 Reviews

Brand: ELC / Age: 3 Years+

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    11 Reviews
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      06.05.2010 13:17
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      credible cheap alternative to major brand

      We bought a few different packs of this at Christmas for our 2 year old.

      You can buy sets with tools and dough included, boxes of tools, or packs of dough on their own.

      The bumper activity jar which comes with a variety of different tools including moulds, rolling pin, pattern rollers, 'knife', extruder with a variety of shapes, cutters etc. We also bought the hairdresser kit with growing hair, scissors, hairdryer and other tools. Both sets came with dough.

      The dough comes in a good range of colours. The big negative about soft stuff is that dough in most of the sets comes in plastic tear off packaging, so there is nowhere to store it when you've finished playing with it. It also seems to dry out more quickly than other brands of dough that we have used. You can buy packs of 4 tubs of dough, so I would recommend this first for storage, then using the other packs of dough as refills. I've also since bought the bargain dough bucket which comes with 15 packs of dough, which I thought was decent value.

      There is a great range of tools and cutters available separately, from plastic shape cutters to wooden tools and stampers, to more complicated toys for slightly older children. The tools that came in the sets we bought are fantastic, and have kept my daughter amused for hours. Some are a little too difficult for her to use alone at present, but this should mean the set lasts for a couple more years without her getting bored. The only fault I've found tool-wise is that the interchangeable end of the roller comes out easily, especially when being operated by a 2 year old!

      All in all, the dough lets the tools down.

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        14.09.2009 10:41
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        Shame it drys out to quick.

        This is a review for ELC Soft Stuff and the Soft Stuff bumper activity jar.

        We recently cashed my daughters penny jar and told her she could buy something with her hard saved cash so she decided on the ELC soft stuff bumper activity jar £8 (normally £10) and Doh tubs bright colours £3 (normally £4)

        Now she is a big fan of Play Doh and having had the rainbow box of play doh for about 9 months it was just about giving up and gone all dry.

        The bumper box is great value you get 6 lumps of doh in 3 different colours and lots of different tools, rollers stamps and cutters in the box.

        The problem I have found being the roller as it comes apart to make stampers but doesnt really roll without falling to pieces.

        The other problem is that the doh comes in plastic wrapping and so has dried out really quickly it would have been better if it came in small tubs that could still fit inside the box of bits.

        The tubs of bright colours are nice bright Pink, Blue, Orange and Green and quite a big size pot. The doh however is not of a good standard and has dried out really quickly. Considering its normally played with for half and hour at a time and then put back in the pots I would have hoped it would last a little longer. The colour also comes of a bit on hands when you have been kneading it for a while but comes of easily.

        All in all I think it was good value for the money paid but I think I will buy the original playdoh in future just because it lasts longer.

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        12.08.2009 00:19
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        A fun way to spend an hour on a rainy day

        I have only ever bought two brands the one in question and 'Pl*y D**gh'. I prefer soft stuff as it feels more malleable and therefore my little girl can do more with it. However I found the colours are not quite so fun and soft stuff does not smell as nice.

        I bought the ELC kitchen set that comes in a big muffin container with rolling pin, cookie cutters and icing instrument as my little one is into cooking in a big way. The advantage is, its less messy than cooking, although it does follow you through the house! If you do find it on your carpet, I use a trick I learnt when removing bubblegum... put ice on it and then it should break/crumble and then easier to vacuum.

        My little girl loves playing with her soft stuff and most mornings would prefer to get straight down to action and even tries to skip breakfast. I think its because she gets one on one attention which is all they want.

        At her age, almost three she is still more interested in what I can make, but is slowly starting to create her own pieces. I mould the shapes and she puts them together and then the magically world of make-believe starts. All the creatures have birthdays and therefore birthday cakes, which in turn requires singing (which she loves). Then they have to go to bed and I have to roll really thin sheets for bed covers... its great for them to use their imagination. She tells the story and I provide the props, so I also feel it encourages team work.

        I have also added glitter to make the dough special and we did colours yesterday so for example added red and blue to get purple... she was amazed!

        Its one of the best toys for your child is the least messy (messy play) and as they recommend at least two lots of messy play a week this helps keep the house clean and them occupied and stimulated.

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          14.07.2009 19:22
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          Stick with play-doh

          I recently treated my children to some soft stuff from the ELC as they love the original 'play-doh' and to be honest i was really dissapointed with the product.
          It seemed exPensive for the tiny amounts of soft stuff that you actually got once you had taken all of the wrapping off, then my son decided to eat some and it stained his clothes something i never have had a problem with before.
          I found it alot stickier than original play doh so it was harder for them to roll out and create things with.
          There are some really nice accessories to the soft stuff such as the dinosaur tub but i will in future use these with play doh.
          My children did enjoy themselves mind you so from there point of view it was a success although it just made more work and washing for me! One product i wouldn't recommend.

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            21.08.2008 09:36
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            Relatively clean fun for all ages

            Play dough has been a firm favorite for generations. Whether it's bought (as is often the case these days) or home made (using the cooked or uncooked method), it's a great fun activity that's not too messy but that will entrance children of all ages (to a point). It's creative, it's sensory and it's fun.

            "Soft Stuff" is Early Learning Centre's version of Play Dough. It's a re-useable modeling dough that comes in a variety of bright colours. In terms of consistency it's a bit softer than plasticine and yields well to the touch. As your hands warm the dough it softens so that it's easy to mould and roll out as your activity requires.

            Soft Stuff can be bought in tubs (a la Play Doh) or, if you buy a "Soft Stuff kit" you may find that you get smaller portions of soft stuff wrapped in cellophane. This can be a pain as, if left out, Soft Stuff becomes hard stuff and is no use so, if you have the smaller portions you'll need to find an airtight jar or a well sealed bag. The Soft Stuff tubs have moulds in the lids making them extra good value!

            You'll quickly find that children play with soft stuff in very different ways. Some will want to roll and cut out shapes, others will model, others will just be content squishing the stuff to see what it feels like.

            That's really all there is to it!

            To enhance the fun there are lots of accessories that can be bought such as rollers, cutters and printers.

            This is an activity that can be done alone but is far more fun with a parent or other children. As a parent you can show your child how to roll or mould the Soft Stuff and watch as they try and copy. Invariably they'll come up with their own way.

            Soft Stuff is advertised as being suitable for children over 18 months, but with supervision younger children who are sitting well could play. The Soft Stuff is non-toxic but obviously you're not going to want your little one to eat it. Toddlers love the stuff and older children who are more adept at creating things can lose themselves in the art world!

            I've not had an issue with getting Soft Stuff out of carpets or clothes and it doesn't seem to mark or stain (despite warnings that it might). In fairness we do tend to use it on a small table in the kitchen but bits do escape!

            Once opened you've probably got about six months life in the dough before it starts to dry. Keeping it in the fridge should prolong its life, alternatively, a few drops of a light carrier oil or baby oil should perk it up again although can make it a bit too greasy! I've found it's on a par for shelf life as Play Doh and is much better than the cheap own-brand stuff.

            Soft Stuff can be used to develop many skills. Hand-eye co-ordination is improved as the child manages to make what they can see and the child's observational skills are improved alongside. Imagination is served too.



            Retailing at around £1 a pot this is good cheap fun. Sets which include accessories start from around £5 and they are often on offer making this excellent value for money.

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              08.03.2005 14:28
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              There's something about play dough that is intrinsically fascinating, I don't know if it's the smell, or the cold slightly greasy feel as you squelch it through your fingers, but I love the stuff. Now although I know how to make my own, it's far more convenient to buy it ready made from a shop. You can of course buy the original Play-Doh, which is pretty expensive for what you get (but lasts for ages), or you can buy a cheap no name brand (that dries out in 5 minutes), but I buy mine from the Early Learning Centre, under the name Soft Stuff.

              ~~~What is Soft Stuff?~~~

              Well the tub describes Soft Stuff as “Re-usable modelling dough” and that's exactly what it is. Brightly coloured it's about the consistency of plastacine, although it does start off a little hard it softens with the warmth in your hands. It's available in a multitude of colours, but my children only have the pearlised versions, which are nice shiny colours. When you first get the tubs, you'll notice that they are sealed with silver foil, which keeps the dough nice and fresh.

              ~~~Using Soft Stuff~~~

              So you've bought your Soft Stuff, what do you do with it now?

              Well that's going to depend on your child, while all of my children have played with it at some point, we actually bought one lot for a very special purpose. You see my son, Michael is on the Autistic Spectrum and as part of this is “tactile defensive”, this means he doesn't like touching messy, or unusual textures. So we bought some soft stuff for the specific intention of trying to get him to not only touch it but (hopefully) positively enjoy the experience. It took a long time, and I had lots of fun squidging it in my hands, but eventually he actually touched it. As soon as he discovered it wasn't going to hurt him, he started exploring it further and was soon rolling tiny balls (this child can't use a pencil but boy is he good at rolling tiny balls out of dough).

              After he had finally started touching the dough, we decided to buy him some of the accessories that the ELC sell (which I'm not going to list here, there are far too many). At the basic level, a mat (to keep the table clean), a rolling pin and a set of cutters are all that is needed. Soon he was creating his own little pieces of modern artwork, and become more confident about touching other messy items.

              ~~~Other ideas~~~

              Print some super size letters, laminate the paper and you have templates for practising making letter shapes. Or make some fat sausages, put them in a toy frying pan and sing ten fat sausages (I'll put the song at the end), as each sausage goes pop or bang get your child to squash one of the dough sausages, this is brilliant fun and we get squeals of laughter no matter who is playing.

              As your child gets older and more confident, you can start encouraging them to sculpt models of everyday items, we've made cats, dogs, snakes, apples, bananas, and even models of ourselves. You may need to show them how to get started, but no what their final product looks like, they'll be having fun and improving their observational skills.

              ~~~Who is it suitable for?~~~

              The packaging says that Soft Stuff is suitable for children over 2 years, but to be honest my youngest girl was playing with it much earlier than that. Basically, if your child is able to sit independently (or with suitable support) they will be able to play with this. The only thing is, for children that put things in their mouth you will need to stay with them while they play (but really your children will gain most from this if you play with them anyway), as although it's non-toxic, it's not particularly pleasant to eat. There is no real upper limit to playing with this, I still enjoy fiddling with it, and find it very soothing rolling it between by fingers.

              ~~~How long will it last?~~~

              Until it's opened, the Soft Stuff will last indefinitely, I've just discovered an unopened pack in my cupboard that I bought three years ago, and it was perfectly fresh when I pulled off the foil. However, if left out it will start to dry out quite quickly, and even in the closed tub will dry out after about 6 months, although you can increase it's life by storing it in the fridge when not in use. Basically I would say it lasts longer than the mega-cheap brands, but not as long as Play-Doh.

              ~~~What will my child gain from this?~~~

              There are so many skills that Soft Stuff can be used to develop. Hand-eye co-ordination is the obvious one as they start to make the dough do what they want, and artistic and observational skills as their models begin to look like what they intend them to be. But what about encouraging the use of imagination as they create little stories out of their models, or as an aide to storytelling and singing. I've even used Soft Stuff to help with letter and number recognition, I bet you never realised it was so versatile, did you?

              However, for my son the greatest thing he gained from this, was that he actually touched it, it really is worth the money just for that.

              ~~~Any bad points?~~~

              Unfortunately this can seem to get everywhere, probably because Michael turns it into tiny balls, and if stepped on tends to squish into the soles of shoes. We've only played with it in the kitchen, which has a hard floor, but I suppose it could be a problem for carpeted rooms. The packaging also warns that it may stain, and that overalls should be worn and soft furnishings covered, but I can't say I've experienced any staining of my children's clothes.

              ~~~Where to get it~~~

              Well being ELC Soft Stuff, you can only buy this from the ELC, either on-line or in their shops (some Sainsbury's also seem to be selling ELC toys). It is remarkably cheap costing just £3 for 4 tubs, in a variety of colours. I really would recommend the pearlised ones, especially for girls they are so pretty, but you can also get them in standard, bright and glitter varieties for the same price. Accessories cost from £1 (for the rolling pin) to £10 for an ice-cream set.

              ~~~What the children think~~~

              Christopher (13) ~ It's for babies, I don't want to play with it.

              Louise (9) ~ I like making pretend food for my Barbies.

              Ashleigh (6) ~ It's fun making things and it feels nice when I squeeze it.

              Michael (6) ~ Look ball (as he's made yet another tiny ball lol)

              ~~~What their Mum thinks~~~

              Personally, I don't care that I'm an adult, I love playing with my children's Soft Stuff. I'm glad that having the children I have an excuse to join in, and of course they have so much fun too. Not only this but it's so cheap, lasts pretty well and is so versatile I'm always thinking of new ways to use it.

              I am therefore recommending this to the parent of young child, who is unlikely to actually try eating it, as a useful and fun activity.



              ~~~Ten Fat Sausages~~~

              As promised the “Ten Fat Sausages Song”

              Ten fat sausages sizzling in the pan
              One went Pop, and another went Bang.

              Eight fat sausages sizzling in the pan
              One went Pop, and another went Bang.

              Six fat sausages sizzling in the pan
              One went Pop and another went Bang.

              Four fat sausages sizzling in the pan
              One went Pop and another went Bang.

              Two fat sausages sizzling in a pan
              One went Pop and another went Bang

              No fat sausages sizzling in a pan,
              When all of a sudden the pan went BANG!!!

              Have fun.

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                26.10.2000 07:04
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                My eldest daughter adores her soft stuff and we do on a regular basis get it out for her to play with. she has a couple of toy's to "help" her cut them up and make different shapes and generally make a mess, inevitably some ends up a weird kind of brown colour (no matter what colour you started with) and some of it somehow ends up under my shoe and on my socks. I also find that it does not stay soft stuff for long if you dont get the lids on tight and preferably with a little cling film inside to keep it extra soft. IT is however cheap and chearfull and I do happy make sure that we have some in so she can have 30 mins to 1 hour play with it. I do recommend it but I would not recommend anyone to let their younger child play with this anywhere near a nice carpet

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                04.10.2000 21:22
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                My children love this product. And would sit for hours with it if they could. However, it goes so hard so quickly they couldn't play with it for very long. My son can make all sorts of things out of it and he had the set which is a food maker. He loved the idea of making burgers and buns and the salad to go in them. My daughter loved the idea of eating them too but I didn't as it was very difficult to get off of her teeth once she had chewed it. I don't like this stuff myself as it goes hard and you find bits all over the place for days after they have played with it. It can get trodden into the carpet (then difficult to get out) and my daughter who admittedly is probably a little young for it wants to eat it. But then how do you stop her playing with it when he has it all out. This product is ideal for someone with alot of time to supervise their children and who has a bare floor eg. wood or lino so that it can easily be cleaned up. For those who haven't I find that putting a bit plasic food splash mat down helps a great deal although sometimes it will still manage to find its way onto the carpet. UPDATE............................. I have recently been doing a family literacy course at my sons Infant School. The main aim is to learn ways in which we can encourage our children at home. With Reading and Writing. What I was interested to find is that they need to learn to manipulate their fingers and learn the different ways in which they can move them through play such as sand, salt and play dough. We brought the children into the lesson and got them to show us how they play with these items in the classroom. I found the play dough very good and it is amazing how well they do when they are using it and how much they learn. Especially if you talk to them all of the time when they are making things. The schools however do not buy in their dough they make
                it and the dough lasts longer and is easier to use. I also noticed that it is much easier to clear up when dropped and squashed into the carpet. Why not try and make your own it is cheaper and better. The receipe for Salt-dough is as follows: 4 cups of lain flour 8 teaspoons of cream of tartar 4 tablespoons of oil 4 cus of water 2 cups of salt Add food colouring *optional* Method... Mix all ingredients together in a large an and cook over medium flame stirring all of the time till the play dough forms (takes about 5 minutes) Knead well and leave to cool in air tight container. The dough can be baked in an oven on a low heat. Then it can be varnished painted or whatever. Storage......... The dough has tremendous keeping qualities if sealed in an air tight container i.e. plastic bag with elastic band.

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                  19.09.2000 23:56
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                  I was first introduced to this "stuff" when my son was given a tub in a party bag. my initial reaction was that it was quite good, however after it had been used a few times my opinion changed. You have to be fairly quick about putting it back in the tubs as it tends to go hard in a short space of time, and it's difficult to remove trodden-in bits from the carpet too. I like the various cutters and shapes you can buy from the ELC, but I'm not a fan of the "soft stuff" I'm afraid.

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                  23.08.2000 00:56
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                  I bought the ELC soft stuff (it's thier own play dough brand) for my daughter 18 months ago. It has just been replaced, with good care it can last for ages. This soft stuff comes in a variety of colours most of which are BRIGHT! You can either get it in individual cartons in a set of 3 or in a big bucket which gives you quite a few different tubes of the stuff. I have opted to buy it in the cartons as these are definetly airtight and really do store it well. The ELC also do arrange of cutters eg family's, cars and farmyaard animals. You could always use your own pastry cutters if they were not too sharp. They also do a really great machine which produces a long sausage shape. My daughter has had hours of fun with her soft stuff, which has also lasted for 18 months, which is not bad for something costing a £5 for 3 tubs. Its great for kids as it can get them to learn about colours ,texture, cutting out skills, co ordination and of course it can lead to some very imaginative dinners being made- well it did in my case.

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                    15.08.2000 06:24
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                    My 3 year old daughter loves playing with playdough and we have tried several brands. The first lot that we bought for her was 'Soft Stuff' from the Early Learning Centre. This comes in packs of 3 for £3 in many different colours, including pearlised. We found that it soon dries out even though we did put the lid back on when she had finished playing. It was never very soft to start with and even I found it hard to get it through the soft stuff machines and my daughter could not do it. Proper Playdo is much softer and easier to put through the soft stuff machines (and also smells really nice, although that might not be such a good thing for little children).

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