The Töbo Track: A Review

Tobo-Track

A few months ago, I was sent a Töbo Track to review on my blog – this was a toy that Sarah had heard a lot about, and so we were excited to see how Caleb would enjoy playing with it.

The Töbo Track is a pretty unique educational toy. This is how their website describes the Töbo Track:

Tobo Track is an exciting new way to build roads and tracks for toy cars and trains. 12 identical pieces are included with each set, and can be joined together in hundreds of ways to create a track that goes anywhere you want it to. Every hexagonal piece has a straight section, a curved section and an intersection – and can be connected to any edge of any other piece. Its a fun way to use creativity while playing with toy cars and trains.

Here’s what’s included:

  • 12 track pieces
  • 1 wooden toy car
  • 1 mesh storage bag
  • 1 set of optional stickers

Tomas Nielsen, the creator of Töbo Toys has created a company that has 3 core principles:

  1. Healthy Play
  2. Sustainable Production
  3. Educational Value

When you’re playing with a Töbo Track, you really feel like he’s accomplished those 3 principles in the creation of this toy. The toys are made from wood – and so it’s a completely safe toy, free from toxins or oil-based chemicals. And it’s also from scrap wood – wood that would have been thrown away otherwise – so it’s a toy that is great for the environment as well.

This is a toy that even I have a lot of fun playing with. Each of the tracks has a great texture and feel to it – and I know it’s not something that Caleb is going to be able to break at all. It’s very sturdy. I also love the educational component with the numbers on all of the sides of the tracks, which means that it’s a toy that can be used when Caleb gets older as a fun way to work on mathematical skills.

Nielsen says that “just fitting the pieces together builds spatial awareness, manual dexterity, and pattern recognition. And since each piece has six possible orientations, deciding how and where to place track pieces builds creativity and problem solving.”

The Töbo Track comes with 12 identical track pieces and a cute wooden toy car – which Caleb especially liked when he first opened up the Töbo Track. In fact, the only complaint that Caleb had with the toy is that he wished there were more pieces to it. You can make a lot of track options and designs with 12 pieces, but I also wished that I had bought a 3-4 sets so that we could have made some really long tracks.

Caleb has really had a blast playing with his Töbo Track. He loves seeing what kind of road shapes he can make with the tracks – I’m hoping that perhaps he’ll get another set or two for Christmas so that he can make a much longer track and keep enjoying this toy. The only comment that I might make about the product (which didn’t affect me since I was given a set to review) is the price. The Töbo website shows a list price of $59.95 and offers it for $49.95. However, you can get it on Amazon for $35, but even that feels a little steep. However, for being a safe, toxin-free toy that is made out of recycled wood material…$35 is probably a pretty good price for it.

If your child loves cars as much as Caleb does, and if you’re looking for a good present, I would highly recommend the Töbo Track. Below is just a short compilation of Caleb and I playing with the Töbo Track. Enjoy!

New Life

WPC-Preaching

This sermon was preached on August 31, 2014 at Winnetka Presbyterian Church. My text was Ruth 4:1-22. You can listen to it, and read it, below.

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I’m sure that many of you, as you were listening to this story this morning, were amazed at how similar it was to many of your own weddings, beginning of marriages.

So many romantic and meaningful rituals…

  • The haggling over a piece of land
  • The redeemer taking off his sandal and giving it to Boaz
  • A proclamation from Boaz that the sale is final and Ruth is his?

Kind of gives you warm fuzzies all over, right?

There is much about our story this morning that clearly reminds us that this is an ancient story – a story that comes right out of another world. The ritual of one man taking off a sandal and giving it to another, something done to symbolize a binding transaction, this ritual we are told in the text, was something that was done in Israel in the former times, it was already something old and ancient.

We should also acknowledge that to our modern ears, hearing a story where a woman is treated as a piece of property, something to be haggled over and purchased…well, this is certainly not something that we are accustomed to, and it probably makes us feel a little uncomfortable. In those days, if a woman’s husband died, it was customary for his brother to marry the widow; otherwise, there would be no heir to inherit the land.

But while much of this story sounds a bit foreign to us here in the North Shore in 2014…this is also a heart-wrenching story filled with the familiar stuff that we all experience in our own lives.

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Glide Bikes: Orange Ezee Glider with Air Tires

Ezee-Glider-680

Thanks to my wife, Sarah, who wrote up this great review for the Glide Bikes Ezee Glider that we got to review online.

When we lived in Ashland, OR, balance bikes were the norm. Rather than seeing kids tooling around playgrounds on tricycles or bikes with training wheels, you’d see little kids scooting themselves along on balance bikes. I had never seen or heard of balance bikes before and they piqued my interest as Caleb began to show signs of one day becoming mobile. On the recommendation of a blog I like, we bought Caleb a Pewi Ybike, which is a cross between a push toy that helps kids learning to walk and a pre-balance bike. With three wheels and a handle, Caleb was able to both learn to walk while holding onto it and sort-of learn to ride by sitting on it and pushing himself along. It was great for learning to walk when Caleb was 1 and for learning to ride the summer Caleb was 1.5, but this summer we realized it was way too small for Caleb to be able to use it as a bike again. So I began to research balance bikes.

Although I was already sold on wanting one for Caleb, this site helped me learn more about balance bikes (so I could explain them to Adam and our parents) and begin to compare different models. Money was a big factor for us since our budget is very tight, and after doing some research, I decided the other key factors were: warranty, size (I wanted something that Caleb could ride now and next summer, and ideally until he is ready for a bike without training wheels), sealed ball bearings (keeps dirt from getting into the wheels so they continue to spin smoothly instead of slowing down over time), and air tires (foam tires seem great if you want to be able to use the bike indoors, but air tires provide more traction for riding outdoors).

Factors I didn’t care too much about were footrests, brakes, and turn limiters (I didn’t care if the bike had those features or not), the weight of the bike or the status of the bolts (recessed bolts mean less chance of scrapes when your kid falls off). Ideally I wanted to spend under $100, but I quickly realized this was unlikely to happen as the majority of bikes that fit all of my qualifications were closer to $130-$150. So I made a list of my top picks and started watching for sales.

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