My family's favorite 'little kid' toy EVER
If you had to pick one gift to give to an older baby, toddler or young preschooler this year for a birthday or Christmas, I'd say that the Fisher Price Learning Home would be the hands-down best choice. While the official recommended age range for this toy starts at 1 year old, as soon as babies can sit on their own, they can....and will...start playing with this adorable, versatile house. On the other end of the spectrum, my daughter still actively plays with the learning home at age 4 1/2, and even children up through kindergarten who've visited our home are drawn to it like homing pigeons.
Basically, this toy is a center of developmentally stimulating activities that together form a smorgasbord of fun for small children. It's like Super Toy.
Come explore the home's features with my daughter and I and see why this toy is found in so many homes, preschools and child care areas. My parents have given these learning homes as baby gifts because they've seen how much fun my daughter, nieces and nephew have had learning numbers, colors, shapes and music.
photo credits in this lens all by BunnyFabulous, unless otherwise noted. Please no copying of images without express written permission.
Personally, I think the fact that this house toy keeps its theme going by providing an 'outdoors' side and an 'inside' side ties it together for kids and enhances pretend play as they grow older.
Everything on this house is really cute. Unless you're really grumpy or annoyed by cuteness, you really can't help but smile looking at this home. There's a good amount to do on the inside of the house, and here's an overview of what you'll find:
Smiling Clock - The clock has a huge grin, and the hour and minute hands are easy for little fingers to manipulate. They move both directions, and it may take awhile, but kids will figure out that the clock only makes sounds when a hand is on the 12. Depending on the mode the house is on (either learning or music), it'll chime, play hickory dickory dock, or say 'clock'. My daughter didn't play with this part quite as much earlier on, but as she moved into toddlerhood and then as a preschooler, she liked to tell us what it was time to do. We even have used it for the beginnings of teaching her to tell time.
Shapes -- the shapes along the roof line may not look like much, but they have lots of possibility. My little girl loved gnawing on them. I really don't know why since they're pretty smooth; no interesting textures. Maybe that was the appeal, who knows. In any case, the square, circle, triangle and star and their holders make a built-in shape sorter.
Light Switch and Light - I don't know a child who doesn't like flipping light switches, or any switches for that matter. This one is sized just right and reinforces 'off' and 'on' with words as well as the light on the side of the house turning on. It's a great cause and effect. While my daughter still liked to play with this feature frequently, it was still a little frustrating to her that the light turns off after a little while rather than continuing to stay on the entire time the switch is in the 'on' position. To me, it was a teeny bit of a negative about the toy in terms of playing, but I completely understand why it was designed that way. A toddler leaving the lights on would drain the batteries a lot more quickly.
The Back of the Mailbox - All right, it's not as entertaining as the front, but it's fun to be able to receive the mail from the inside of the house, especially if someone is putting mail in there for you.
Window - The window on the right side of the photo has an easily graspable handle to make it go up and down. There's a cute indoor scene printed on it, and the sounds emphasize the concepts of open and closed.
Radio - For your little button pusher, the radio provides a lot of cute songs that have tons of learning content. It's easy for babies and toddlers to get the words for colors, shapes, numbers, the alphabet, etc. in their heads from these cute little ditties. You'll be singing them too, I guarantee. Whether that's fun to you or semi-annoying, I just wanted to give you the FYI. Another positive in my opinion is that the volume and mode controls are right there on the radio, so you don't have to flip the whole house over to make adjustments. There will come a time where your child will figure them out too, much to their delight....or confusion when they turn the sound off by accident. And yes, there is an off mode if you get really tired of the sounds and your child will tolerate it.
Phone Number Flip Book -- While this little part of the house is developmentally appropriate, it contributes the least to the theme of the house. There's a flap to flip back and forth, revealing cute animals, the word for the animal and a phone number to 'call' that animal. It kind of begs the question as to why there's not a phone included with the house. Hmmm. Maybe a design improvement in the future. The nice thing is that there are plenty of play phones out there to pretend to call animals on.
photo credit: BunnyFabulous
My niece, age 19 months and my daughter, age 5 months playing with the learning home
What's on the outside? - The opposite side of the house mimics the outside of a home. For our family's play, it encouraged lots of role playing about answering
My daughter at 13 months old playing with the learning home - She loves spinning the wheel at the top that has 'good morning' and 'good night' greetings and sou
Here's what you and your child will find on the outside of the home
Gutter with Balls - I guess it's technically on the side, but the purple gutter is lots of fun for toddlers to push balls down. A little lever on the inside triggers either the 'Itsy Bitsy Spider' song or counting the balls. The ball receptacle on the bottom is really well designed too. The balls never miss going in there, so you're not chasing them all over, and they're easy for your child to reach and play all over again.
Spinning Flower - Babies love to spin things, and this flower is no exception. There's a little yellow bee underneath to spin around too.
Window - We've had some of the most interactive play with this home feature. It's lots of fun to surprise your baby by peeking through when she opens the window. It also teaches 'open' and 'closed'.
Doorbell - Another very satisfying feature for little button pushers. The doorbell cheerily dings and turns on the light on this side of the house.
Mailbox - I guess I'm easily entertained, but I like the goofy pun the mailbox makes: 'You have letters!' it says when you open it, then it bursts into the alphabet song. The three colorful letters that come with the learning home are perfect for babies and toddlers to gnaw on too.
Spinning Garden - My daughter and I have shared a lot of giggles watching the bunny, flowers, bee, caterpillar, etc. spin by on the little garden feature. It doesn't make any sound other than the sound of spinning, but in its simplicity, it's still quite entertaining visually.
photo credit: BunnyFabulous
Learning Home Replacement Pieces - Life happens. Stuff Gets Lost.
Picking and Choosing
While there's a lot to do on this house, don't be surprised if your child gloms onto a few features to the neglect of others. Different ages and stages make for different interests. My daughter was attracted to everything on the house at some point or another, but not all at the same time.
The door to play
The rest of this toy is really entertaining, but it's the door that makes it all flow together
Here's another example of where I think the Laugh and Learn Home is a very appropriate toy for mobile babies...crawlers, cruisers, etc. The door is excellently designed for babies to open themselves and crawl on through. It's an opening just their size. Opening and closing the door not only has several fun phrases and satisfying noises (my favorite is the creak), it swings freely enough to open and close easily from either side, but it rests shut too.
There's another shape sorter in the door to use with the shapes on the roof line, and the other side of the sorter has a larger opening to be able to retrieve the shapes and also put other items in there. We loved putting other random toys in the sorter for our little girl to find, much to her delight. She liked hiding stuff in there too.
A little orange key 'unlocks' the door. It doesn't move a ton, but we ended up using the key for other pretend games as our daughter got older. She liked pretending that she'd locked me out. Glad that didn't translate to real life.
photo credit: BunnyFabulous
It's a motivating toy for babies who are learning to pull up and cruise - I love that some of the home's best features are strategically placed higher up.
After getting to play with her older cousin's toy learning home, my daughter was delighted to receive one of her own for Christmas. While before she had focused on the mailbox, spinning garden, window and other features she could reach from a seated position, at 10 months she was ready to reach for the roof.
This toy was one of the main motivations for her to pull up to standing since there was so much to do on the upper level. She'd play with the clock, then hold on to the home and scoot around the corner to dial the house numbers. Then she'd see the gutter with the balls on the other corner, play with that, then reach for some shapes to gnaw on. I liked that she'd be moving around and practicing her cruising and standing skills, but still be in one place. Not to mention she was enjoying playing around with movable stuff that wasn't the drawer handles or the knob on the DVD player.
So what's up there to entice baby?
Good Morning/Good Night wheel -- The spinner on the house's roofline is easy for small hands to grasp and figure out how to move. It doesn't take long for an older baby to figure out that moving their hand more quickly along the ridged edge can make the spinner go fast. When it stops on the sun, there's a friendly 'good morning,' a short tune, and a rooster crowing. As the spinner stops on the moon, there are some night sounds, 'good night' and an owl hooting. Great to practice what you say in the morning and what each animal says. On the music mode, it plays some cute songs.
Clock -- Depending on the mode, the clock tick tocks and says 'clock' when you move one of the hands on or past the 12. It can take awhile for older babies and some toddlers to catch on that the sounds only happen at the 12, but this was also an opportunity for my daughter to develop her problem-solving skills. We'd move the clock hand slowly and ask her if there was a sound on that number, and we cheered when it made its sound on the 12. You can also use the hands to teach 'up' and 'down' since the hands have arrows on them. The clock's smiley face is just the right height to greet your little one as they cruise around.
House Numbers - These are pretty simple; they just say the number when you spin them, but they go along with the theme nicely. We've played a little game of 'guess which number comes next' when I move the number dials up or down.
photo credit: BunnyFabulous
The Laugh and Learn Home in action - Now a full-fledged walker, my daughter demonstrates more of the home's features. At this stage, she was all about running
28 Months Old and She's Still Enjoying the Shapes....and Her Rabbit Ears
Using The Learning Home for Creative, Interactive Play - Here are some ideas for goofy games to play with your child using the learning home. These have all bee
- Window Surprise - This game can take many forms, but the basic idea is the same. When your toddler opens the window, you have a surprise on the other side ready to interact with her. My brother loved hiding behind the house and reaching his hand through the window to grab his kids. They laughed and squealed as their dad growled and tried to catch them. In our house, the surprise was usually different stuffed animals who would pop through the window to say hello or give our daughter kisses. As she got older, she also liked popping the window open to play a sort of peek-a-boo with whomever was on the other side.
- What Did You Get in the Garden? - In this game, my daughter and I would take turns spinning the garden with our eyes closed and a finger pointing at it. When it slowed down, we'd poke our finger on the garden and say what we 'got,' which was whatever our finger was pointing at. She had a grand time yelling out 'bunny' or 'snail' or 'flower'. It was also amusing to her when one of us got nothing; the finger just pointed to the grass.
- Using the learning home to make, well, a house - The door of the learning home lends itself well to being the door and front facade of a play fort or play house. You know the kind. You put chairs or other furniture around and put blankets on top to make a cozy hideout just the right size for a toddler. It's extra cool to have one with a real door. Another bonus is that the mailbox becomes a fun pass-through for other little surprises. My little girl loved when I'd put her play food in there to 'feed' her.
- Learning to tell Time - I guess this isn't a game per se, but the clock definitely lends itself to learning how to tell time. Since it makes sounds only when a hand is pointing to the 12, it made it easy to teach my daughter when it was an 'o'clock', and then tell me which o'clock it was depending on to which number the hour hand pointed.
Laugh and Learn Home makes a great fort - My daughter at 4 years old still uses her learning home as an integral part of her pretend play.
Your opinions.. - Here's a list of what I like most about this house toy. What do you think?
Your Thoughts About The Learning Home - Would you want this for your child? If you have one already, what do you think?
Larry Rankin from Oklahoma on July 20, 2015:
Wonderful learning tool. I might have to get one for my daughter.
Nelly van der Werff from The Netherlands on June 21, 2014:
Great lens and lovely 'toy home'.
getmoreinfo on November 01, 2012:
Such a cute Fisher Price Learning Home toy
SquidooMBA on October 26, 2012:
We love this! Our adult friends see it and start playing with it when they come over and our daughter has always enjoyed it. Great lens...