Know Before You Buy: Big Hugs Elmo Review

This is a review of Big Hugs Elmo by Playskool. I received this product free through BzzAgent for the purposes of reviewing it; however, all opinions are my own and are not influenced by the company.

Clark is almost three, and while he is familiar with Sesame Street and Elmo, it isn’t his favorite franchise (he prefers the cast of Disney Junior characters). I was interested in seeing how he would react with this Big Hugs Elmo toy knowing his preferences. He surprisingly took to him almost immediately.

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When I unboxed Elmo to prepare him for my child’s use, I found it to be fairly easy to set up. I liked that they used paper “strings” to bind Elmo instead of those awful plastic ones. I recycled mine after the fact. All I had to do after that was access the battery port by separating the velcro, unscrewing the cover, and adding batteries. I flipped his switch to “play” and he was ready.

I played with Elmo first to see how he worked and found that without the instructions, he wasn’t always intuitive. The hugging motions were a bit awkward because his mouth doesn’t move during some of the hugging bits. It was a tad creepy considering that his mouth moves most of the time. It didn’t seem to bother Clark, however. He’s pretty used to playing with Scout[[ASIN:B0080M1GX0 LeapFrog My Pal Scout]] and his mouth doesn’t move, so I imagine that is why. My son took to Elmo very quickly, and while he was a little concerned about hugging him at first, he loved the imaginative play and was hugging him in no time.

At first, Elmo’s arms seem very fragile, and I could definitely envision my son breaking this toy rather quickly. That concerned me a bit since the retail value is more than I would generally spend on a toy unless it was a birthday or Christmas item. But after playing with him for awhile, Clark seemed to not break him or mess him up, so maybe I’m a little overcautious in that respect. Also, the box containing his animatronic parts doesn’t have enough padding at the bottom in the back, so I’m waiting for him to smack it on his head at some point.

Overall, though, I really enjoyed how lively this toy was. It strongly encourages and supports imaginative play, affection and care, and physical movement. These are all essential to his growth and development, and I appreciate that they are integrated especially because I am a teacher. The specificity of the way the mouth and arms move in tandem with the words was a refreshing sight since it more closely mimics the natural movements we make ourselves than other animatronic toys. Clark insisted on bringing Elmo along for his weekly trip to his grandparents’ house.

On another hilarious note, as a teacher I thoroughly enjoyed the cardboard cutout of a boy that came with the toy. I’m totally going to use him in my classroom! I think he may become a way to post announcements or little fun French phrases on my whiteboard, haha.

UPDATE: Six months later and this toy is still going strong. I take back everything I said about it possibly being flimsy. It’s solid and not going anywhere. Our oldest son is super destructive on toys and yet Elmo still looks perfect! Anyone who knows him knows that that is seriously saying something!

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Acquirables: Yearly Birthday List

If you are like me, you always have the best of intentions when it comes to sending out birthday cards to friends and family, but often you forget exact dates or realize two days too late to send a card (because it takes two days in the mail, duh!). So, in the spirit of sharing fun new things on my blog and revamping everything, I made this nifty birthday list.

Unlike a huge book or even a calendar, it’s only six pages (and three if you print front-to-back on cardstock) so it would fit nicely in, say, a home and family organization binder (that may or may not be coming soon, hint hint) especially with a pocket or sheet protector for all those cards. There are two months on each page and two spots per date, but plenty of room to write in more names if you know more than two people with one birthday. Just click on the banner below to get the PDF file!

One more thing: are you a foreign language teacher who might want to adapt this list to use in the classroom as a way to teach dates? Email me and I’ll send you a copy of the PDF in your chosen language!

Pink Pirate Party

My friend, A, is hosting a pink pirate party for her daughter and asked me to do the invitations. The best part – it only cost her $3 for 30 prints at Meijer and they gave her the envelopes to match for free (which I totally didn’t expect!). I also did her other daughter’s Pooh birthday tickets .

If you are interested in invitations for your next party, give me a call! I charge $5 for the file with unlimited revisions. Then I send them to the closest photo printer to you that’s on Snapfish and you can get as few or as many as you’d like. I also email you the JPEG file. These photo invitations look like you ordered them from one of those professional sites without the cost. Like one of the designs you find on those sites? Email me the photo at twobluepillars@gmail.com and I can most likely reproduce it fairly closely (this one was a rip from Oriental Trading with a few changes). Thanks for letting me work with you, Amber!