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We are extremely lucky to live in Cornwall, we are close to the south coast but not that far away from the north coast either. With the recent nice weather we've spent a lot of time at various different beaches. The boot of my car is quickly becoming a dumping ground for various beach related items, mainly sand toys. One of the spades we have is from Early Learning Centre. The ELC spade is, of course, available to purchase from ELC either in store or online and can sometimes be found on sale from Mothercare and Amazon too. It has a full price of £3 but I picked ours up for half price. As far as the design of the spade goes, it is pretty much the same as every other spade available to purchase. It has a handle at one end and the actual spade at the other. The handle is a nice length, between each end it's around 30 centimetres long. It's the perfect size for my three and a half year old to use. There was only one colour available to purchase, red. The quality of this spade is as you would imagine being an Early Learning Centre product. It is made from plastic but it isn't flimsy like a lot of other spades, it can be put through its paces without showing any signs of giving way and snapping. I've used this on wet sand and again, it withstands to pressure without bending. All of our beach type toys get put through their paces with both my three and a half year old and my boyfriend's five year old daughter. By the end of the day everything is covered in sand but the sand washes off quickly after a quick rub over in the sand then it is left as good as new again. Early Learning Centre state that this spade is recommended for children over the age of two years but I see no reasons why younger children can't use this, it may be a little tricky for younger ones to use due to the size but I don't see any hazards that it could pose. The full price is quite expensive for an average spade but the quality of the plastic used means it represents good value for money and for that reason I would definitely recommend it.
When my daughter was less than a year old and we enjoyed a couple of weeks of sunny, beach like weather, I bought her a Poundland bucket and spade set thinking it would do her first year, when she wasn't able to do much sandcastle building herself, and then when she was older I would purchase a better set. Well, a year on, the Poundland set was still going strong with the exception of the spade, which got misplaced. I had however, thought about getting her a bigger spade, after she was using her cousin's larger spade one sunny day on the beach and found it much much easier than the little spade that had come with the poundland set. My daughter's cousin had got the spade in the Early Learning Centre in the sale, and I was fortunate enough that when I also picked mine up in the sale as well, half price at £1.50, which I think is a fair price given the size of the spade and the fact that it is good quality. According to the ELC, this spade is suitable for children from aged 2 onwards. My daughter isn't quite two yet, and has no problem manipulating this spade to dig, however, I think it would probably have been too big for her at 18 months or less, and so the age range is probably near enough appropriate. This spade is made of plastic, however, there is a much sturdier feel that the cheap spades you get in the likes of Poudland. This spade actually serves several purposes for my daughter, as she loves helping her daddy in the garden, and now that we have a much larger garden having moved house recently, my daughter has much more opportunity to help in the garden. This spade is hauled out along with her Poundland bucket, and her wheelbarrow to help daddy dig up the vegetable patch and get it into shape. The length of the handle gives her enough leverage to lift the spade with either sand or muck (!) wherever she wants. She loves that she can move larger amounts compared with her previous small spade. ELC claims that this product helps with hand eye coordination and I could see how that could be the case. Getting the sand/soil etc onto the spade and then moving the spade to as position where a bucket or hole etc could be filled, means a child needs to work on hand eye coordination. My daughter is fairly good at getting most of the sand/soil into the bucket or hole she is working with, without dropping huge amounts. All in all, for the meagre price I paid for this robust and sturdy space, I am very happy. As I said, it serves two purposes for my daughter - in the garden and on the beach, so it was definitely worth the money, even if I had paid full price!
Large spade to dig holes and build sand castles.