Product Type: Lamaze baby toys
Newest Review: ... on the carpet and blow raspberries to signify her glee. Pulling apart This is where the Balancing Bug Stacker really triumphs over m... more
Stacks of Magnetism.
Lamaze Balancing Bug Stacker
Member Name: CrazyEgg
Lamaze Balancing Bug Stacker
Advantages: Develops coordination, fine motor skills and demolition expertise.
Disadvantages: Entomological inaccuracy.
The Balancing Bug Stacker consists of six brightly coloured, slightly anthropomorphised arthropods. They are plastic, each housing an integral magnet which also serves to make each bug rattle if it is shaken (physically, rather than emotionally). Being approximately the size of a large egg they fit snugly in the palm of my medium-sized hands, if held in such a way as to avoid the various rubbery and knobbly protrusions that form wings, legs and antennae. Lamaze suggest this toy is suitable from six months, and we have owned a set since Baby was 7 months (4 months corrected). She is now coming up to 14 months, so we have had plenty of time to review and assess this toy.
It will be obvious to you, the reader, that these bugs can be played with individually. What is it that makes this activity 'great' as Lamaze claim? Observing Baby at play I can see that she has enjoyed shaking the Bugs to make them rattle. There is a definite weight to the bugs so this will have helped her develop her arm muscles a little. She has also spent time feeling them and sensing the different shapes and textures that Lamaze have provided, something that has undoubtedly helped her fine motor skills. Latterly the bugs' legs and wings have become a favourite surface upon which to relieve Baby's sore gums. I notice she favours the flat wings for her emerging front teeth and the legs for her as yet unseen back teeth.
When playing together, Baby and I generally afford each Bug its own persona. We are slightly hampered in that each bug has the same smiley face, but nevertheless we are able to have Snail slowly slithering, Bee buzzing, and Butterfly fluttering for example. The spider is a useful prop when singing Incy Wincy Spider, the Ladybird when reciting Ladybird, Ladybird Fly Away Home.
The sixth bug is a squat green thing and is something of an enigma. I guess he can be whatever we want him to be.
It is the variety of possibilities when playing with the bugs individually that makes this a great activity.
Stacking items on top of each other is a developmental milestone for babies that demands good hand-eye co-ordination, so any stacking toy should be of interest and use to baby. Because these bugs have magnets in them and the top and bottom of each bug is flattened, they stack on top of each other easily, and stay in position reasonably well. They can go either way up and will stack in any order, so they are most suitable for the novice stacker. They stack with a satisfying 'clomp' sound too.
As yet Baby CrazyEgg is not much interested in stacking things for herself, though she is highly delighted when others stack on her behalf. This is because one of the things Baby CrazyEgg loves to do is...
This can be achieved through the direct lunge or using an intermediary such as cuddly Elmo. Simply grab his eyeball and swing and the bug stack comes tumbling down. Baby will applaud this, or sometimes 'Bash-a-Bug' on the carpet and blow raspberries to signify her glee.
This is where the Balancing Bug Stacker really triumphs over many other stacking toys. Baby can grasp two attached bugs and has to exert pressure to pull them apart. How the bugs are held will determine to an extent what development is taking place, for example perfecting the pincer-grasp action of thumb and forefinger, or clasping and gripping with the whole hand. The action of pulling apart requires the use of both sides of the brain and so is great for cognitive development, in the same way that you might get Baby to have fun by ripping paper.
Since the Bugs are magnetic they will stick to other magnetic surfaces. We have a magnetic board that the Bugs will stick to. If you hit the back of the board they will slide down, so you can have races. The snail always wins though, so sometimes he has to be left out in order to achieve a surprise result.
Useful as well as fun, each of the Bugs can do time as an honorary fridge magnet if you so choose. They will hold one or two sheets of paper quite readily.
The magnetic quality of the bugs, their size and shape is crucial to their performing the above tasks so well.
No toy is perfect and the stackable Bugs are no exception. My biggest complaint is the inaccuracy and illogicality in the modelling of the bugs. I can forgive some elements since they are, as I have said previously, anthropomorphised somewhat, and I realise that the bugs have a magnetic task that they are obliged to be able to perform. Nevertheless, the following factors irk:
I have already referred to the Spider bug: his form renders his arachnid heritage indisputable. However he has only six legs, not eight. This is wrong.
The gastropod in the gang has a green body, but its tail-end is blue to match his shell. This is just sloppy. Additionally, his antennae are strangely placed: one behind the other so it appears he has a Mohican.
If during imaginative role-play, you fly the Ladybird eyes first so that it can see where it is going, its spotty wings are under its belly. Sigh.
Overall this is a magnificent stacking toy. Entomologists and gastropod gurus may be disappointed.
Summary: A magnificent stacking toy.
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