Disclosure: I received samples to assess for this post. All opinions are my own.
I always try to find ways to incorporate my daughter’s Chinese heritage into her everyday life. Play time is a fun and natural way to do this, so I was excited when I found out about the China World Village Playset from Whole Wide World Toys.
Created by Laura Barta, company founder and mother of two, World Village Playsets teach kids about the world around them through creative play. The China playset exposes children to the unique people, customs and traditions of this country.
The playset includes a beautifully-illustrated soft fabric playmat, a 32-page color story and activity book and 14 story cards to engage kids in storytelling. Thirteen large chunky painted wood puzzle pieces feature people and objects seen in China. Each puzzle piece has both Mandarin and English printed on it. Ideal for smaller hands, my daughter enjoyed placing the pieces on the playmat, moving them around, and creating stories around them.
To enhance playtime, the story book provides details about life in China though the eyes of two visiting American brother and sister, Emma and Joe. The story book mentions interesting foods, places, customs and activities for the kids.
Note that this is an imaginative-based playset, so there are no lights, sounds and things that move automatically. It’s meant to stimulate creative play without the “bells and whistles” that so many toys today depend on to engage children. The playset is for children ages 4 and up, though with the younger children a grown up will need to participate to read the book and facilitate storytelling.
There are many ways for children to engage with this playset. Examples include:
- Taking the chunky wood puzzle figures out of the puzzle holder and letting kids “walk” them around the detailed playmat. Find the story cards associated with different areas around the playmat and ask your child the questions printed on the cards.
- Use the story book as a guide and have the Emma and Joe puzzle figures “act out” the scenes in the book.
- Make the Egg Drop Soup recipe included in the book to bring Chinese culture to life in your home.
- Copy and cut the tangrams included in the book for kids to play it at home just like many children do in China.
- When not in use, display the playmat as a wall tapestry. The playmat includes loops for hanging.
- Review the Chinese and English translations on the puzzle pieces and try to remember the words.
Whole Wide World Toys also makes a Deluxe Companion Pack which includes a boat, canal house, and kite & candy shop. Kids can place these large, stand-up pieces on the playmat to enhance creative play. Place the character figures in the boat to ride up the canal or have the figure play behind the windows and doors of the canal house and shop.
The playset is ideal for families looking to enhance cultural learning in their homes, for families who travel and for classrooms or adoptive adoptive families with a child of Chinese descent. The China World Village Playset is the first in a series of playsets from Whole Wide World Toys who plan to expand their lineup to feature other countries.
About Whole Wide World Toys
Whole Wide World Toys was founded in 2014 by Laura Barta, former P&G executive and mom of two who has lived in and traveled to many countries around the globe with her family. World Village Playsets are designed to inspire curiosity about the world and its people by immersing kids in the everyday lives of people around the world through play. For more information, go to Whole Wide World Toys or visit us on Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest.