Monday, November 3, 2008
More than a dollhouse
Last month, Whitney at RookieMoms.com sent me an email offer I couldn't refuse. I actually missed the email because it came at a hectic time (during Hurricane Ike), but, luckily, I found it as I was filtering my inbox.
She wondered if I'd be up to participating in a cool review. She told me the good people over at The Learning Curve would be sending me a dollhouse to review, and, get this, an additional dollhouse to give to a person or organization in need.
I was skeptical. Seriously, why would someone want to give ME a cool dollhouse? I did some research, and everything seemed to be legit, so I gave Whitney the go-ahead.
I couldn't wait to see what it looked like. I couldn't imagine what sort of dollhouse would be able to successfully encourage kindness and charity. I soon found out. It's not just any ol' dollhouse. It's Mrs. Goodbee from Caring Corners, a dollhouse that encourages sharing, caring, and preparing as children play.
The package boasted of "over 400 activities, songs, words, and sounds", so we couldn't wait to see what all this thing could do. Ring the doorbell and the house invites you to "come on in". When the baby cries, Mrs. Goodbee suggests giving the baby a bottle from the fridge. As you (in doll form) stand in front of the sink, Mrs. Goodbee reminds you that brushing your teeth is important and doesn't take much time at all!
Mrs. Goodbee comes with special stickers for her "Garden of Good Deeds". When you "catch your children being good" (or they complete a special task), they can put a new sticker in their Garden of Good Deeds.
As good deeds are done and new products are purchased, codes are revealed to unlock these fun games on the interactive website, CaringCorners.com. Caring Corners recommends helping your children fill the box Mrs. Goodbee comes in with donations (clothes, toys, whatever) and delivering it to your local Goodwill store or other charity. Your child will receive a Certificate of Appreciation from Goodwill, which will have a secret code to unlock another special activity at the website. We went through the whole house and had a HUGE bag of stuff to give away!
Mrs. Goodbee is twelve rooms of fun that teaches children to be aware of others, a value that we, as parents, try to instill in our little ones daily. While the dollhouse comes with a little girl, a baby, and a dog, you'll want to buy more to complete the family. The Family Night package comes with an adult male, a couch, and an entertainment system for the Mrs. Goodbee family to watch home videos on. (You can actually change the picture on the screen to three different family scenes!) The Table Manners package comes with a little girl, a dining table and two benches, as well as a hutch holding all sorts of delicious looking goodies. The table has buttons to push which say "Thank you", "Please", and a variety of other words.
Each package is suppose to teach something specific. For example, The Table Manners package teaches preparing, as children see how to set out dishes and be polite at the dinner table. The Baking Cookies family pack teaches children to share special treats. Pet Playground teaches children the importance of caring for pets. These are moments that actually happen in our lives. Acting it out with the dolls, and then showing our children how we do that "in real life" helps concrete the lessons in their minds.
Of course, children are eager to add more characters and accessories to their house, and, well, if you're like me, you probably are pretty excited too. My husband and I decided to set up a plan to obtain the other add-ons. For every good deed the children do (without a lot of prompting), we add little money to a jar. When they have enough money, they can purchase the package they want. Pennies, nickles, and quarters add up pretty quick! Before or shortly after we purchase the product, the children will have to participate in the activity portrayed in the package, whether it's helping with grocries, hosting a fun playdate (and sharing their toys), helping Daddy fix something, or baking and sharing cookies with the community. We want to really use this special toy as a learning tool, and not just another toy that gets lost among the others.
One more thing, if you ever want to know how your children view their family life, watch them play with this product. If the Mommy doll seems to be a little cranky lately, or the Daddy doll spends a lot of time in front of the television, maybe it's time to review your own actions.
Then again, your son may tie a napkin around the Daddy character's neck and make him a superhero who saves the Mommy character, who is stuck on the roof of Mrs. Goodbee.
This dollhouse is definitely a winner in my book. My children play with it several times a day and really enjoy it (even my three-year-old son!). There are few toys that can captivate their attention for that long while promoting Christian characteristics and qualities.
I'll continue to post on our Mrs. Goodbee experience as time goes on!