Green Toys Build-a-Bouquet: A Review
Early last week, we received a very exciting package in the mail from Green Toys. If you don’t know who Green Toys is, they are a California-based company that produces quality, made-in-the-USA toys from 100% recycled plastics. Their toys contain no BPA, Phthalates, PVC or external coating.
Well, not too long ago, they hosted a contest on their Facebook page. They had a product with extremely high reviews from both children and parents; after a year on the market, however, the toy simply wasn’t moving. The question was WHY? So they asked for their fans’ opinions and suggestions. The 12 fans with the best responses would receive a Build-a-Bouquet; guess who got a set! 😀 Perfect timing, too, since Princess has really been getting into flowers lately. Since I had so many questions about the toy myself, I thought it would be apropos to post a review of the toy for other parents (or grandparents) who might be interested in it.
Princess is always excited about packages. So once it got through the door, we ripped it open and Princess exclaimed (the moment she saw the toy), “I love this! I’ve ALWAYS wanted one of these!” Really? Because I didn’t know it existed until last month. Lol. To be fair, I DID show her pics of it when I entered the contest, so yeah, she probably did “always” want a Build-a-Bouquet. 😉
We pulled all the parts out of the box (even dismantling the “semi-assembled” flowers) and Princess set them all out so she could get a good look (she likes to see everything first before she plays with any one thing…Christmas day was rather interesting, as she plowed through all her gifts, arranged them in order, and then chose a toy to play with, lol). I turned around to pick up the bits of packaging that had flown out of her hands and onto the floor…turned back to her…
…and saw that she had started building. Actual entire flowers built. On the bases. Which she had attached to each other. I was surprised that she intuitively knew what to do with all the pieces! As she picked up a part, she would ask me to name it (petal, stem, leaf). One of my favorite exchanges: “Mommy, what is this piece called?” / “A stamen…that’s usually found in the center of a flower. Bees drink from there to make honey.” / “Oh. But it can be a baby flower, too.” Yes. Yes, it can. 😉
So to make this easy for you (and me), I am going to move forward in a Q&A style.
How sturdy is this toy?
- It depends on how many base pieces are fit together and in what configuration, but it stands fairly well on a hard, level surface. The bases could be a little heavier to prevent flowers from tipping over accidentally. Or you could place some of those sticky mats (like what you use to line shelves) to the underside to help it grip a table better. The other thing it depends on is how high you stack the pieces…if it get too high and you don’t have a good base, then it all topples over.
- The holes for the stems on the bases are a bit close together, so you won’t be able to put flowers in every hole on the base. BUT, I believe it was designed this way to give kids more flexibility in flower placement. Just good to know in case your kiddo is a little picky about empty spaces.
- Which leads me to the pieces. While there is a little flex in some of the pieces, they are actually pretty strong. The pieces can fit in pretty much any order you want…leaves/stems can go into a flower. The pieces nest into each other (not like Legos, that snap together), so you have to be sure to press down on them if you want to move them around a lot. Otherwise, you just lightly set the pieces into each other and then they slip apart.
- The slipping pieces are great for younger kids too, as they don’t have to exert as much force to actually build something. And the pieces don’t have to fit “just right” like Legos do.
Can you fit the pieces in the base together to make a circle?
- This was one of my questions to Green Toys. Because I thought it would be cool to make a flower crown. I didn’t play with it enough the first day to find out myself (ok…I’ll be honest…I was having a slow-brain day and I couldn’t quite figure it out, lol), but Princess did the next morning – she put the pieces together and made a complete circle (I was mildly surprised, since I kinda thought it might not be possible). However, you cannot wear it as a flower crown because the pieces don’t lock together…including the bases.
- As a result, making a posy ball or a bouquet wouldn’t work very well, either. Well, you could do a bouquet if your kiddo presses all the flower pieces together very tightly. The set works really well as a “garden” set-up, though. Or a table-top bouquet. Without a vase. Just using the bases.
- The stems do not fit into those glow wand handles I mentioned in this post.
Does it come with a storage box?
- Yes, it comes with a little cardboard box. But it’s hard to fit all the pieces in there nicely, so I repurposed a Sterilite CD box (similar to the index card box, but larger), which holds all the pieces perfectly (and fits on a shelf quite nicely).
How creative can you get with the flower/stem pieces?
- Well, you can’t turn the pieces upside down to make little flower umbrellas for fairies. Bummer.
- But you can stack them really, really tall.
- And like I mentioned before, the pieces don’t have to go together in the traditional stem-flower-stamen order, so you can really mix it up.
Besides building flowers, what else can be done with this toy? Preferably educational stuff.
- Well, first of all, ALL play is educational play. But if you’re interested in math/science/language arts kinda educational stuff, then that really depends on how creative you want to get. And how much your child is willing to do.
- You can ask your child to:
- build a flower with “x” number of pieces.
- build a flower with “x” number of leaves and “y” number of flowers.
- build a flower with “x+y” number of pieces (or any other combo of mathematical equations…heck, ask for the square root of 1600…helpful hint, that’s every leaf, stem and flower in the set).
- build flowers of a certain color order.
- fit as many flowers as possible onto a base (let’s see how many kids think outside the box!).
- build the tallest flower possible.
- build the maximum number of flowers of the same (or a certain) height (and yes, kids can understand words and talk like that; it’s a good idea to mix up your phrasing so they have to think a little bit)
- build flowers to the scale of different skyscrapers around the world (see?…you can get really creative).
- figure out what order YOU built the flowers into (this can get really complicated…for example, you build in the color order yellow-purple-pink, but build one flower with a yellow petal, the next with purple-pink, the one after that with yellow-purple-pink, the next-to-last with yellow-purple and the last with just pink…tricky tricky!).
- build a flower of the color you spell out (good for listening skills).
- complete certain building tasks…TIMED (good for helping children who might not be good at taking tests learn how to manage their time…and their panic)
- There’s tons more, but I think you get the idea. 😉
- You can even do these activities using a different language. Cray-cray!
- Obviously, some of these suggestions are for much older kids. And while you may balk at the idea of older kids playing with something like this, some people are tactile learners and learn best when they are touching and doing something instead of just trying to visualize it…manipulating pieces around to complete a math problem may be all the help a struggling child needs.
Sounds good…but will my kid actually PLAY with this?
- Well, it’s only been two weeks, but I’d say yes. Princess played with it the day it arrived for nearly an hour. The next morning, I asked her to go play while I took care of our dishes and she went and pulled this set out again. It’s been out another two times since.
- It will definitely come out again for her off-site birthday party next month…we’ll set it up in the center of the table as a “bouquet” and the kids can fiddle with it as they like. I will probably tape the bases down in an effort to avoid a falling flower disaster.
- Bonus: I can wash all the pieces easily. I imagine you can put the pieces into a laundry bag on the top rack of your dishwasher, but we don’t use the dishwasher. I just rinse everything in 50/50 water/vinegar and, if I’m really being a germophobe, follow that up with a peroxide rinse. Spin it all in the salad spinner and set out to dry. Easy, quick and non-toxic.
We love our Green Toys Build-a-Bouquet – it’s absolutely darling and I love that Princess has a building toy that suits her interests so well. I’d love to see a gardening or tree set next (imagine all the fun you could have building the different levels of branches!). Maybe Green Toys will get really out there and build a cloud set (sorry…the kid in me getting carried away)! There are sooooo many building toys that are “for boys” (model cars, K-nex, Mindscope NeoTrax, and other race-track type setups); it’s about time that there’s something “for girls.” NOT saying that girls and boys can’t play with the same thing (because we have loads of Legos, NeoTrax and train tracks that Princess ALSO enjoys), but I know some parents out there are squeamish about gender-specific toys. To me, toys are toys. Kids of all ages and genders will play with whatever makes them happy. I think the colors are great – not too girly, but girly enough (because honestly, any time there’s a pink anything, it’ll get called girly; and I’d rather NOT have a red flower…it would be a total eyesore with the purple and yellow).
Well, that should about cover it. You were actually probably wondering if this would ever end, lol. But just in case…if you have any questions about this toy, feel free to post them in the comments and I’ll do my best answer them. 😉 And if you want your OWN Build-a-Bouquet, you can find them at the official Green Toys website or on Amazon. Better yet, support your locally owned toy store and ask them for Green Toys!