Product Type: ELC baby toys
Newest Review: ... away in their "nesting" form seems to provide much more amusement at the moment. The ELC stacking cups are also water tight so a... more
Stack It Baby
ELC Stacking Cups
Member Name: sandemp
ELC Stacking Cups
Date: 29/01/11, updated on 29/01/11 (70 review reads)
Advantages: Simple, versatile toy, doesn't take up a lot of space in the toy box
Disadvantages: I really can't think of any, these really are the perfect baby toy
Would you believe that I first bought these stacking cups from the ELC almost twenty years ago, when my eldest child was a baby? That set of cups survived many years of use (and abuse) at the hands of four children and were eventually passed on to a family friend. Fast forward twenty years and when looking for stocking fillers for nine month old Freddy I couldn't help but remember how much fun my other children had had with their set and so picked up a set of beakers for £6.
For your £6 your child gets a total of ten plastic cups of graduating size, ranging from 5-10cm in diameter. Each of the cups is a different colour with some being opaque while others are translucent. The range of colours is pretty good, with cups in various shades of blue, green, purple and pink along with red and yellow. As each of the cups is a slightly different size they all nestle inside one another, which means they don't take up very much space in the toy box. The cups can also be stacked one on top of the other to make a tower, they all have rims on the base that firmly hold the next smallest in place, which makes it a little easier for your child to build the tower. When all of the cups are used to make the tower, it certainly looks impressive and at 65cm in height it will probably be a while before Freddy will be able to put the top-most cups into place.
Each of the cup is numbered on it's base, starting with one on the smallest counting up to ten on the largest, which makes it easier for us adults to nest and stack them in the right order as well as providing a way to help children recognise their numbers. All the cups are made from durable plastic that has so far survived being thrown across the room and chewed on. But I must say, they don't seem to be quite as well made as the ones I bought twenty years ago. I do remember the plastic on my last set being slightly thicker and tougher, I'm not sure these would withstand a three year trying to use them as stilts in quite the same way as the older style did. I will say though that they are extremely well finished, with all the edges being smooth and rounded.
Being made of plastic they are extremely easy to clean, I simply wash them with the rest of the washing up. There's nothing on the packaging to state whether they are dishwasher safe, and not having a dishwasher, I've never tried it.
==Playing With The Cups==
When I first gave these cups to Freddy to play with, I actually only gave him the five smallest whilst he was sitting in his highchair. After examining them very closely, he found they made a great noise when banged together. He then spent a good ten minutes banging them together and against his tray before discovering that he could put one inside the other. And that's now his favourite way of playing on his own with these, he'll spend ages just seeing which cup will fit in which, with a big grin of triumph on his face when he manages to fit on inside the other.
When we're playing together, I'll build a tower while Freddy tries to knock it down. It's a bit of a race really, how high can Mummy build the tower before Freddy knocks it down. And then there's always fits of giggles as the cups go flying across the room. I find these cups a great motivator in getting Freddy to move around the room, as although he has fantastic fine motor skills, he's a little behind as far as gross motor skills go (crawling, etc.). By building the tower out of his reach, I've been steadily encouraging him to improve his crawling.
We also take some of the beakers into the bath for water play. They're great for pouring water from, although there is a small hole in the bottom each of them meaning that the water does drip out adding an extra dimension to water play. Although the weather hasn't really been suitable to test these out in the sand table, I can tell you that the older style were brilliant for making sandcastles and I don't see any reason why these wouldn't be the same.
Although Freddy is too young just yet for role play, I'm sure at some these will also be commandeered for spare cups at teddy bear tea parties. I know that the previous set was, with the different sized cups being matched up to the appropriate sized teddies and dolls. They were also used as makeshift pots and pans for cooking up pretend meals. These really are proof that sometimes it's the simplest toys that can be the most versatile.
==Learning Through Fun==
Billed as being suitable for babies from six months of age, coming from The Early Learning Centre, as well as being fun, these cups are fantastic for encouraging your baby's development. Although the ELC, states that they will encourage hand-eye coordination and problem solving skills, I think that they are selling these cups short a bit there. Yes they do encourage hand-eye coordination as the baby/child learns to stack them and then nest them together again. And yes they do encourage children to problem solve as they learn to work out which order they go in, but they do so much more too.
Firstly as well as the fine motors skills necessary to build the cups into a tower, these cups will help your child develop their gross motors skills as they move to get to any tower you've built and then knock it over. They can also be used to help teach colour recognition, counting and number recognition along with the concepts of bigger and smaller. Finally they encourage imaginative play, with their uses literally being limited by your child's imagination. I've seen these cups used as pots and pans, cups and even a space rocket when built into a tower.
The Early Learning Centre Stacking Cups is an excellent, durable and versatile toy that is an essential for any baby's toy box. £6 may seem a high price to pay for what is essentially little more than a set of plastic cups, but believe me it's money well spent. The cups are so versatile and durable that you'll find that the same cups your six month old baby was banging together are being played with in the sandpit when that baby is six or even older. So think of that £6 as an investment that will still be paying dividends for years to come. There are cheaper versions of these cups available from other retailers, but to be honest from what I've seen these cheaper cups aren't quite as well made or finished and I wouldn't be quite as confident that they would last as long. And so I'm giving the ELC Stacking Cups an almighty five stars out of five and recommending them to all parents of babies six months old and over.
Summary: A must have for any baby's toy box
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