If you’ve been to a play area, a toddler group or out at a park with your little one, you’re bound to have come accross the popular Happy Hopperz bouncy animals or the Wheelybug ride on toys. There’s no doubt that these adorable bouncy ride-on toys are lots of fun, but you may be suprised (and pleased) to learn that they have developmental benefits, as well as physical and social aspects.
I first became interested in these toys when looking through information from my supplier Hippychick who distribute both toys in the UK. I decided to stock a few of them at what2buy4kids and they just flew off the shelves. The mother and former teacher in me was keen to learn more about these great toys.
Happy Hopperz are a collection of inflatable bouncers in various sizes, colours and styles. They have animals, such as dogs, cows and horses with ears for gripping. They offer a thin body shape (suitable for 12 months – 2.5 years) and a wider body (suitable for 2.5 – 5 years). Inflating is easy, the pump is included, and the bouncers can be used indoors or outdoors.
Clearly, they are cute and lots of fun but how can they aid development? Happy Hopperz will help with co-ordination and balance skills while strengthening muscles and developing motor skills. Playing with friends on their Happy Hopperz will develop children’s social skills and confidence. In addition, your child will develop an awareness of the space around them as they bounce and jump. The stronger they get, the faster they can bounce. I was also impressed to learn that Happy Hopperz are used by Occupational and Physio therapists as therapeutic aids. And, on their website, they have ideas for fun and educational games that encourage activity, imagination and coordination.
Wheelybugs are ride on animals produced by an award winning Australian company. The animals range from ladybirds and bees, to mice and pigs and they’re fun to ride, and safe and comfortable to use. The animal bodies (the seats) are covered with a soft but tough layour of polyurethane leatheroid that can be easily wiped clean. The best feature are the castors on the rounded plywood base which allo the bug to go backwards, forwards, sideways and round and round. This means no parents having to jump up and bull the bug away from obstacles – children can manage this all on their own. And the design means they won’t ever tip over. There are two sizes available; the small one (suitable from age 1 to 2) and the large one (suitable from age 3 to 5).
And the developmental benefits? Apart from being brilliant fun, Wheelybugs promote gross motor skills, awareness of space, muscle development and confidence. As your child gets older, bigger and stronger, he/she will love whizzing around and taking risks (which is an important developmental skill too). And I’ve noticed that when there are many children on Wheelybugs, they get a chance to work on their social skills as they share, take turns and negotiate with others.
I have always loved the designs of Happy Hopperz and Wheelybugs, but now I am just as enthusiastic about their developmental benefits as well. I love the toys that adapt to children’s needs as they grow, and these hopping and ride on toys do just that. As your child grows, you’ll see the progression from these toys being used to balance, move slowly and gain confidence to toys that encourage excercise, aid in development and provide hours of fun.