5 Amazing Toddler Games from Haba

Oh Germany! What an abundance of high-quality, sturdy family games that are both simple yet innovative. Starting from 18 months to adulthood, German company Haba offers a wide variety of board games (amongst toys, furniture, dolls and play rugs) that can be played alone, in pairs or as a group. To be honest – I did not expect that board games would be available for Bean until she was at least 4 or 5 years old, save for memory games and color sorting, until a friend showed me Haba’s threading game for toddlers. I was hooked – and expanded Bean’s board game collection. All of these are available in different languages – here are 5 that we love to play with Bean.

1. Bärenhunger (English version : Hungry as a Bear)

Currently one of Bean’s favorites, this nifty game requires players to “feed” the cardboard bear whatever food appears on the dice. The game is great for hand-eye coordination and recognizing different foods – blueberries, spinach, strawberries, carrots, potatoes and rice. The game ends when the Bear is fully “fed” and the plate is empty.

2. Fische Angeln (English: Here Fishy, Fishy)

Remember those old-school battery-operated rotating fishing games? Well Haba made a durable version for 2+ years old onwards that is not a choking hazard. The game has several components that build on each as the child grows older. With a roll of the dice, you fish differently colored items out of the box, aiming to complete a puzzle where each piece corresponds to one type of fish.

3. Tier auf Tier (Animal upon Animal)

A balancing game available in four different versions, ranging from toddler to adults, Tier auf Tier involves stacking different animals Jenga-style until the tower topples over. We have the travel (pictured above) and original version, and both are equally fun with the kiddo or after a dinner with friends. Bonus: great for learning animals too!

4. Fädelspiel (English version: Threading Game)

Any game that can be converted to a travel one is okay in my books. Haba‘s threading games come with little pouches that make the game easy to carry around – whether in transit or at your destination. Available in themes ranging from ‘My Favorite Toys’ (pictured) to ‘Zoo Animals’ to ‘Construction’, the colorful wooden pieces, thick string and accompanying puzzles make this an ideal introductory game to 18 month olds and above.

5. Die Post ist Da! (English version: Mail for You!)

This game gave me a serious hit of nostalgia – mainly because so much communication takes place over social media and email, rather than letters. Consisting of a cardboard house, a yellow wooden post truck and colorful little envelopes, the objective of the game is to deliver the right mail to the right ‘house’, denoted by four different colors. What I enjoy about this game is that the mail has two sides – it can be delivered to the house according to color, or according to the objects found in the various houses!

Enjoy!

Products and images taken from Amazon.de. 

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A Montessori Kitchen (3)

We’re back in the kitchen! 5 more things that you and your toddler can do together while preparing meals.

Bean’s age: 22 months

1. Food Name & Feel 

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This peach is almost ripe.

We have a basket that is always filled with fruit and vegetables. When mom has to do something that requires hot oil or boiling water, Bean stays occupied by feeling the textures and smelling whatever is inside the basket. Lay out a clean cloth and place an assortment of fruits and vegetables. Bonus : get them to name them!

2. Peeling Onions

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Onions are complex; that’s why they have layers.

As with garlic, Bean loves peeling the dry, crackling skin off onions. While she hasn’t tried cutting them yet – the tears that arrive when she stands next to me have made her reluctant to any cutting of onions – she is always eager to peel. Removes one step for mom!

3. Preparing Chicken Fillets

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Mashed chicken, here we go!

Hammers and toddlers go so well together. After placing a layer of cling film over our cutting board, Bean enjoyed smashing the chicken almost flat. She needed a little guidance as to how vigorously she should hit it, and it is a tangible application of the hammer and block toy she enjoys playing with.

4. Cracking Eggs

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Humpty dumpty, is that you?

One of Bean’s favorite activities is to crack eggs open. After watching mom and dad do it, she quickly learned to firmly tap the egg on a hard edge before prying it open at the crack. There is some fishing out of egg-shell involved, but practice makes perfect!

5. Whisking Eggs

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Whisk, whisk

One of the tools in Bean’s kitchen arsenal is her mini whisk, which she has used for everything from mixing cake batter to preparing omelets. A deep, metal bowl provides stability and avoids any spillage. An easy and fun way for the kiddo to help out and manage hand-eye coordination.

(Even) 5 More Rainy Day Activities

Summer thunderstorms are rolling in and this means more indoor playtime. Here are even more – 5! – activities to entertain the kiddo while you have to finish that last batch of laundry or prepare luggage for your summer holiday.

Bean’s age: 22 months

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Mom and dad make this look so easy…

Most of us have spare locks and keys lying around – whether for luggage or drawers – and they can be put to good use! We placed three different locks and their respective keys on a tray and just let Bean figure out what to do. She returned to the tray several times – and although she still didn’t have the strength to twist the lock open, she managed to match the keys to their respective locks and place the key all the way in. For older kids, try combinations locks.

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I think I’ve found the right piece?

Puzzles, puzzles, puzzles! German children’s brand Haba makes age appropriate puzzles starting from toddlerhood. Available in several themes (Zoo (pictured), Construction, Farm Animals, Professions, and Vehicles), every box contains thick, sturdy cardboard pieces that range from two piece-puzzle to four-piece. Bonus: also travel friendly!

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Pompoms make a return!

Upcycle empty kitchen or toilet rolls by fixing them to a flat surface with scotch tape and letting the kiddo drop colored balls or pompoms through them. We put bowls at the bottom to save ourselves too much of a mess. This can also be used as a color-sorting activity and is extremely easy to put together.

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Just don’t touch the sofa!

Messy play! These non-toxic IKEA Mala squeeze paint bottles are perfect for little hands. The tops can be easily unscrewed (though I haven’t decided if this is a blessing or a curse) and the paint is easy to squeeze out. Great for making bright art pieces, these bottles come in a pack with neon orange, neon pink, neon yellow, bright green, bright blue, silver and gold. Bonus: The paints are water-soluble and very easy to remove from non-textile surfaces.

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This is quite therapeutic.

The paint is fun to spread around on a long or large piece of construction paper…

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…or create hand print art with! Bonus: once the paint dries, hand prints can be used as a keepsake. 

A Montessori Kitchen (2)

As Bean gets older, she wants to imitate mom and dad more in the kitchen. We put together her own set of toddler-sized and friendly tools, in addition to the vegetable knife and egg slicer, to let her explore more skills in the kitchen.

Bean’s age: 21 months

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Toddler kitchen arsenal

Clockwise, from left: Silicon mini whisk, small vegetable peeler, mini ‘retro’ colander with handles, ceramic mortar and pestle, egg slicer / cutter, vegetable cutter with wide handle.

1. Vegetable Peeler (with wide handle)

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Everyday I’m peelin’

The wide handle is perfect for a toddler’s hand to grip, and it took a few tries before Bean realized which direction to pull away from. Carrots are an ideal vegetable to start with as they are easier to hold onto.

2. Removing Mushroom Stems

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One mushroom down, two more to go…

No tools required! Pulling the stems off mushrooms.

3. Mini Colander with Handles

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Blueberries for my yoghurt!

This colander is a dream. We’ve been showing Bean how to rinse her own small fruits (blueberries, strawberries or grapes) for breakfast or her midday snack. The handles are just the right distance apart for small hands (and arms!).

4. Scooping Yoghurt

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The Montessori scoop and transfer with marbles / nuts translates well to scooping yoghurt. We use a small spoon – expect a mess at the beginning!

5 More Rainy Day Activities

Or activities for when it gets really hot in summer and it’s cooler to stay indoors. Here are five more things for your toddler to enjoy with things that can be found around the house.

Bean’s age: 21 months

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It’s called abstract, mom

Bean has the IKEA MALA stamp set – though this activity works with any stamps. Just grab a blank piece of paper and let them get to work. This combines color, mess and that loud “THUNK” sound that toddlers seems to love so much.

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Feathers and glue – what a combination!
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The trusty colander returns…

Feathers can be found at any dollar or craft store. We’ve been using Bean’s for several activities and these two are the ones she found more enjoyable. The first involves making glue dots on a piece of construction paper and letting Bean stick one feather to one dot of glue. The second activity featured our trusty colander – poking feathers through the holes.

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Office stationery has a make over.

Direct the stickers onto paper instead of the glass dining table. We used everyday office notice stickers as they are colorful, easy to handle and easy to peel off.

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Jewellery in progress.

The timeless macaroni necklace. We used pipe cleaners (since we had a big bag of them anyways – why not reuse them?) and dried rigatoni as they have big holes to thread through. Bean found this activity so engaging that she made three necklaces – one for herself, one for her doll, and one for me!

Pompoms and Pipe Cleaners

Who knew elementary school arts and crafts could be so versatile? Combining tactile play (those pom poms are so soft!), color sorting, and the use of the trusty kitchen colander, these inexpensive art supplies can be revisited again and again on rainy days, sick days, or days when you’re too tired to haul the kiddo out. Here are 4 activities that Bean found enjoyable.

Bean’s age: 20 months

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Pompom Color Sorting

Grab any combination of plastic bowls, tupper ware or containers to sort the different colored pompoms into. Bonus round: sorting by size instead of color!

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Pompoms into a Bottle

Bean enjoys dropping random objects into bottles – keys, biscuits, bottle caps. She took the lead on this one as soon as I gave her one of our many empty plastic bottles. We started with the smallest pompoms first, then worked our way up. Bonus round : shaking all the pompoms out!

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Pompom and Glueing

Our final activity with the pompoms for the day. Grab a blank sheet or paper and dot it with craft glue. Place one pompom to each dot of glue. Instant toddler art!

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Here’s my trusty colander…

As for the pipe cleaners – the colander has just the right-sized holes to poke each pipe cleaner through. Alternate by focusing on different sections or specific pipe cleaner colors. Bonus round : removing all the pipe cleaners!

4 (Indoor) Rainy Day Activities

Cabin fever? Rain, rain, go away? If you’re as fortunate as us to live in a country with four seasons – including the incredibly awkward North European Spring – then here are 4 activities to keep the kiddo entertained with items around the house.

Bean’s age : 19 months

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Carton and Bottle Tops

We used : 1 glass bottle, 1 glass jar, 1 yoghurt container and 2 milk cartons. Easy to assemble and helps with practical skills.

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Dried Food Sensory Play

Food appears in two forms – cooked and uncooked. Bean found the latter fascinating. We used: rice, lentils and three types of pasta (fusilli, penne and fregula).

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Playdough, playdough

Old cookie cutters return to save the day! We used a set from Ikea to make playdough shapes.

Playdough 6-pack : Flying Tiger
Stainless steel cookie cutters: IKEA

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Stickers and Crayons

If you have any stickers lying around, then you could offer them to your toddler to create “art”. Combine drawing with sticking to keep things interesting.

Flower sticker pack : Flying Tiger
Watercolor crayons : Flying Tiger