***Disclosure: I received a complimentary product to facilitate my review. No other compensation has been provided. All opinions are 100% honest and have not been influenced in any way.***
Having 2 preschool aged children always keeps me on my toes. Sophie will be 4 on New Year's Eve, and little Xander will be 3 just 2 weeks later. (Can you imagine how crazy the Holiday season is in my home?!) My kids are very active, very curious, and love to learn. They really enjoy exploring the world around them, and are very quick to share all of the things they've learned every day. They're smart little cookies, too! They both know their ABC's and 123's, and Sophie can read better than most Kindergarten students. Why are my kids so smart? Well, I would love to attribute it to the fact that I am a super-genius and it's hereditary, but to be completely honest, it's due to lots of one on one instruction and incorporating learning into their play time.
Recently, I was introduced to a ground-breaking company called Creative Baby. They offer an ingenious product called the I-MAT, which comes to life when paired with the Voice Pen. This product turns play time into a digital learning experience where children can learn new words and practice identifying words visually, it teaches sounds, and even teaches little ones to be tri-lingual. (I am not sure if that's really a word, but we'll go with that, haha.)
Before I get into detail about how the I-MAT works, I'd love to tell you a bit more about Creative Baby and their philosophy on early learning.
About Creative Baby :
"At Creative Baby we believe that stimulating children’s minds through fun and engaging activities is the first step in unlocking their creative potential. We develop our products to excite and entertain, to challenge and delight. Our unique line of products cultivates a true love of play in children, and empowers parents to encourage and participate in their child’s creative development. At Creative Baby we truly believe that a creative baby is a happy baby. We invite you to explore our line and find the right products for your Creative Baby."
Our i-Mat and Voice Pen Review :
We received the My Animal World I-MAT with Voice Pen to check out for ourselves. This product is designed for babies and children 18 months and older. It's especially wonderful for families with multiple children, since the interactive nature of the I-MAT includes activities that will appeal to different ages.
This is a soft foam mat with 4 interlocking pieces. The I-MAT is pthalate, lead, and heavy metal free, so there are no worries about exposing your kids to anything nasty while they're playing. It is also very generously sized so more than one child can enjoy playing on it at one time. (Unless, of course, your kids are like mine and will start brawling in 2 seconds flat....In that case, taking turns might be the best bet!)
The I-MAT is controlled with the digital Voice Pen. There are buttons located on the top righthand corner of the I-MAT that will allow the user to perform many different functions. You can turn it off and on, change the volume settings, switch between English, Spanish, and Chinese, and there are also 2 interactive games that are wonderful for the older kiddos.
As you can see, the I-MAT is very colorful and detailed. It features animals from all around the world! There are moose and bears found in Canada and the Pacific Northwest, as well as farm animals, and even exotic animals like tigers, elephants and giraffes found in Africa. Move on to Asia and Australia and you'll find pandas, koalas, and a kangaroo, to name a few. There is even friendly marine life like a whale, fish, and a cheerful looking shark! My kids make a game of avoiding the shark so he doesn't munch on their toes for dinner!
By using the Voice Pen, children can hear the animal names spoken in English, Spanish, or Chinese. They will also hear fun sounds and music. Since the Voice Pen has an integrated 2 gig memory, you can even download more sounds on the Creative Baby website to ensure the I-MAT experience is always new and fresh, keeping children excited and engaged.
I have to tell a funny story...The Voice Pen also has a record function, so you can record your own voice and sounds. Well, my kids somehow sent this to record the other day without my knowledge, and they recorded about an hour of normal household sounds. This included my 13 year old arriving home from school and complaining VERY vocally about his homework and classes. It also captured the babies fighting and the vacuum running. Imagine my shock when out of nowhere, I heard my teen yelling while he was supposed to be at school. I started looking out our windows and went upstairs to try and find him. It was only when I heard the vacuum, which was across the room and turned off, that I realized it was the Voice Pen! Yep...Mommy got punked!
Sophie, my soon to be 4 year old, loves the I-MAT. I know that many folks consider playmats as something just for babies. With the I-MAT, this is certainly not the case at all. She loves reading the animal names and pressing the voice pen to the speech bubbles to hear the words and sounds. She also really loves the games, and can follow the directions given independently. This definitely makes her beam with pride and feel like a total smarty-pants. (I did say this girl is a genius, right?!)
She also loves hearing the words in Spanish and Chinese and attempts to repeat them. Look out, United Nations! We have a future member in the making!
Xander, who is almost 3, also really loves the I-MAT. He will spend hours finding the animals and listening to the words and sounds. I am actually teaching them which animals live on each continent, and he has North America, Africa, and Asia pretty much memorized! He also is able to play the games, but he seems to prefer unstructured play where he makes the rules.
His favorite picture? As odd as it sounds, he loves the tree. I know. Definitely not an animal. But Xander has always had an odd fascination with plants, so the fact that a tree is included just made his day!
The one thing that really throws Xander off is when I switch the languages. He gets very confused, and then after a few moments, giggles uncontrollably and tells me to "make it talk like real people". Sigh. I guess he doesn't really get the concept that not everyone in the world speaks English! Check out his face when I turned the settings to Chinese. It's simply priceless!
Here is a brief video that shows how the I-MAT works. I enlisted the help of my grumpy teen to demonstrate. Please make sure your volume is turned up, because for some reason my camera is recording things a bit on the quiet side lately. We tried several times, and had the same result over and over again. That being said, if anyone wants to gift their blogger friend a new video camera for the Holidays, I will not turn it down.
Overall, we absolutely adore the I-MAT and Voice Pen from Creative Baby. This is probably one of the neatest interactive toys I have ever seen. The colors are vibrant, the pictures are incredibly detailed, and with so many different ways to learn, this is definitely sure to give children a head start in learning. I can't wait to purchase more I-MAT products like the new Sea Life or Alphabet mats. It's definitely worth every single penny, and would make an amazing gift this Holiday season!
Connect With Creative Baby :
You can check out the awesomeness that is Creative Baby on their website. Be sure to check out the awesome video on their home page!
For a limited time, Creative Baby is offering FREE SHIPPING!
You can also connect on Facebook and on twitter to stay on top of their latest products and promotions!
Enter to WIN :
I am thrilled to announce that one lucky reader will receive the My Animal World I-MAT and Voice Pen, just in time for the Holidays!
How awesome is that?!
Simply enter on the Rafflecopter form below.
Open to US residents 18+ (Void where prohibited). Winner will be chosen randomly through Rafflecopter. Giveaway ends October 25,2013 at 11:59pm. Winner will be notified by email. Winner will have 48 hours to respond before a new winner is chosen.Must be 18 years or older to enter Rafflecopter. You may unsubscribe to email lists at any time and your email will not be used in any other way. Entering the Rafflecopter means you agree to the terms above. This giveaway is not associated with Facebook in any way.
PR Friendly Mama!
I'm Brandy, a happily married, proud Mom of 3 amazing kids. If you're interested in building a working relationship, please feel free to e-mail me at: NewlyCrunchyMamaOf3@gmail.com
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