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May 2007 | Vol. VI - No. 5
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Preschool/Early School: Fishing for Fun

Physics and Music Spice Up the Bath


“We cannot wait to get [Bubba and the fish] in the pool.” Stephanie Kirby
The Roundtable participants expressed great enthusiasm about how bath toys from Fundex Games and Alex could be played within an environment their children loved — the water — and also stimulated their intellect and curiosity. Bubba: The Bottom Feeder Game, Dive Pets Fishin’ Net and Tub Tunes Symphony are colorful and sturdily made, they said, making them hassle-free for the bathtub, pool and even dry places. None of the mothers disliked anything about any of the toys, even if they had suggestions for improvements.

Participants were World Bank policy advisor Gail Richardson with Alexander (6-½ years) and Jessica (4-½); former finance executive turned stay-at-home mother Shannon Harris with Tripp (5); stay-at-home mother Heather Jones with Reece (7-½), Cameron (5-½) and Meg (3-½); sales executive Stephanie Kirby with Sarah (6) and Emma (4-½); and writer/editor Elise Yousoufian with Aaron (5-½) and Hanna (5-½).

Bubba: The Bottom Feeder Game by FUNDEX GAMES
Category: Water Activities
Gender: Boys and Girls

TDmonthly rating:



What It Is: A make-believe fish (Bubba) made of a blue net ringed with large lips of sturdy green plastic, whose 15” length can hold eight orange plastic fish of different weights and buoyancies.

What the Moms Thought
Everyone praised Bubba the Bottom Feeder. It “challenges kids to think about buoyancy,” noted Richardson. Yousoufian appreciated that “Bubba’s parts and the fish he eats are perfectly sized for Aaron and Hanna’s hands.” Harris reported that her son “was enthralled by this toy.” Kirby said, “My 6-year-old grabbed her goggles and used them in the tub. We cannot wait to get [Bubba and the fish] in the pool.”

How the Kids Reacted
Bubba and his fish provided fun with counting. Jones wrote that her sons — 5-1/2 and 7-1/2 — “liked the number of fish to catch” and the “strategy behind the game.” Richardson’s son, Alexander, played simple math games with his younger sister, Jessica. The youngest child among the participants, Jones’s 3-year-old Meg, enjoyed having a school of fish in the tub.

Challenged on buoyancy, Aaron pointed to one fish, and then said he knew it was heavier “because he’s going down.” Hanna agreed, answering, “because he’s sinking.”

Some of the kids played with Bubba out of the water, too. Richardson wrote, “Bubba was even used in the playroom as a holder for small stuffed animals.”

How to Improve It
Though the package recommends Bubba for kids 5 and up, Jones added it would be nice to add “or children able to hold their breath under water.”

Would You Want Another Toy Like This?

Yes. The children enjoyed playing with Bubba, and the opportunities for “teachable moments” with this toy are varied in number and depth of learning.

Dive Pets Fishin' Net by FUNDEX GAMES
Category: Water Activities
Gender: Boys and Girls
Age: 6 and Up
MSRP: $7.99

TDmonthly rating:


What It Is: A yellow net with a sturdy plastic ring and handle, coupled with a set of hard-rubber sea animals.

What the Moms Thought
Yousoufian thought the net and creatures were perfectly sized, and Richardson found the toy “well constructed and sturdy…simple to use.” Jones pointed out that the sea creatures can be retrieved by hand, or “for greater challenge,” with the net.

Two mothers remarked on how the toy inspired their children’s imaginations: Kirby said her younger daughter suggested a “beach day in January, complete with towels and her suit,” while Harris wrote that Tripp used the net for “other adventures as well.”

How the Kids Reacted
Most of the children liked the sea animals that came with the net. Only Richardson’s children felt that the net and creatures were more appropriate for younger children, like their 2-year-old cousin.

Emma and Sarah wanted to hold their breath and catch the sea animals with the net. Cameron and Reece wished they could try the net and sea creatures in a pool (they received the toys in the winter).

The net engaged 3-year-old Meg, who “enjoyed story-telling with the numerous fish.”

Tripp “loved putting different things in the net and…watching the bathtub and pool ripple.”

How to Improve It
Richardson asserted that the net “can’t be improved — it is a classic.” Yousoufian, in contrast, felt the net “needs something to make it stand out. The only thing that distinguishes the net is that playing with it is coupled with the sea animals that my children liked. The characters are appealing, but there is nothing educative about it.”

Would You Want Another Toy Like This?
Although all the children enjoyed this toy, Richardson’s children would not want this toy for themselves and Yousoufian would not buy one for her children. They felt it was a toy best suited for younger children.

Tub Tunes Symphony by ALEX
Category: Bath
Gender: Boys and Girls
Age: 3 and Up
MSRP: $32.99

TDmonthly rating:


What It Is: A set of four instruments — five-flute set, drum, six-note xylophone and water drum — and music sheets designed to be played in the water.

What the Moms Thought
Kirby liked “the variety of instruments.” Yousoufian thought that “marrying water with these somewhat serious toys is ingenious,” since children can play music on instruments that either float (the drum and the xylophone) or that need water to function (the flutes).

How the Kids Reacted
Harris’s comments about Tripp — who found TubTunes Symphony his “favorite toy overall” — summed up all the reactions: “A tremendous thrill! Tripp loved the instruments — played with them in the water and out — loved learning how to make different sounds.”

How to Improve It
Kirby wrote that they did not use the music sheets. Several mothers felt the music was “too complicated for the kids to read” while playing. Yousoufian added that the music probably would not be accessible to her children until they were 6 or older. Jones actually tried the “waterproof” sheets in the water and reported that they became “quite wrinkled.”

Yousoufian thought the packaging could be more informative, noting that the target “3+” is probably more like “4+” because of the gross-motor skills needed for the flutes and the xylophone, “not to mention understanding not to drink water from the flutes.” She thought that over the next two years or so, her children would “develop more sophistication in playing all the instruments“ and “could begin to read the music cards that are too difficult for them now.”

Would You Want Another Toy Like This?
The enthusiasm for this toy — putting aside the critiques of the song sheets — suggested that both the participants and the children would enjoy another toy similar to this one.

Photo of children by Elise Yousoufian



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Elise YousoufianWriter's Bio: Elise Yousoufian engages in paid work as a writer/editor on complex negotiations for airplane maker Airbus. Her two children completed four years at a Montessori school and enter first grade this year at the local elementary school.  She finds watching Aaron and Hanna one of her life’s highlights. Read more articles by this author

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