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World Village Playset – China Review by Shecki Bernard

Whole Wide World Toys
http://www.wholewideworldtoys.com

My youngest two daughters were born in China. As an adoptive mom, I’ve always got an eye out for things that portray the Chinese culture in a positive light for them. Whole Wide World Toys has hit the mark with their World Village Playset China Adventure Kit and the optional add on Shop, Boat, and House Companion Pack.

The World Village Play Set sells for $59.99. The Shop, Boat, and House Companion Pack sells for $39.99.  You can purchase them together, along with the Tiny China Book, in the World Village Play Set China Play Day Bundle for $109.99.

The base of the play set is a double layer play mat. This machine washable mat has a slightly fuzzy back and a printed top side depicting Chinese village life, complete with structures, lanterns, kites, and more. 

The next component of the play set are the sturdy wooden pieces in a puzzle like tray. The pieces include not only people, both Chinese and Caucasian, but also animals, food, and transportation. On the front of each piece is the picture. On the back of each piece, you find the English word, the Chinese characters, and the Mandarin pinyan to help you pronounce it. This is nice, because some Chinese resources for children only have the characters, which doesn’t help us, since I can’t read them. The inset on the puzzle tray where each piece fits has the same image as the back of that piece, including the words. The ¾” thick pieces stand by themselves on the play mat.

The story cards are a creative component that adds a nice touch. One side of the cards highlights a picture from the play mat. The other side of the card asks, “What’s the story?” and gives a story starter suggestion, such as, “When I got home from school, I saw our chickens walking away along the canal. I think they went…” This was a great opportunity to increase my girls’ vocabulary and discuss cultural differences between American suburbia and rural Chinese life.

My China Travel Journal, A Story About Life in China, is a 32 page book that comes in the play set. It introduces you to Emma and Joe, who travel to China. It exposes children to some of the foods, games, and stories of China in a kid-friendly way. The Journal is available both within the main play set, and as a separate add on item at Whole Wide World Toys.

For extra fun, you can add the Shop, Boat and House set to your Chinese village experience. This set comes as an add-on, or as part of the Big Play Day Bundle. The house, boat and shop are made of ¼” wooden pieces, tied together with leather cord, so they stand alone for play, yet fold flat to go back in the box for storage. Each piece features windows, so you can have people on both sides, talking to each other and interacting in creative play scenarios. My girls liked pretending to buy and sell noodles and go on boat rides. 

The Tiny China Book, available on its own or as part of the Big Play Day Bundle, shows real photos of Chinese scenery and shares several interesting facts about China to pique a child’s interest.

This is a nice, quality made play set, and my children have spent many hours enjoying it so far. I would love to see Whole Wide World Toys offer similar sets for other countries. This set makes a fabulous addition to a study of China.

-Product review by Shecki Bernard, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, December, 2016

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